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Top Ten Things Not to Say to a Kofer
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marina









  


Post  Tue, Sep 17 2013, 1:11 pm
People going through religious struggles or an off-the-derech journey are often confronted by well-meaning individuals who make useless and even offensive comments. I did a little survey of my OTD friends and here are the worst offenders, in no particular order:

1. Oh, you’re off the derech? You must meet my Rabbi. Variations: you must go to an Aish seminar, visit R’Amnon Yitzhak, get a bracha from my rebbe, learn this sefer.

If you must say these things, say them to a person just starting to doubt. Don’t imagine that the person standing in front of you with a cheeseburger is going to run to your rabbi or learn this and that sefer. Leaving your community and way of life is not easy, and, in all likelihood, this person has already tried seforim and rebbeim and seminars.

2. This is just a phase, you’ll be back soon. Variations: you’re just rebelling, you’ll change your tune when you’re on your deathbed, are you done with this stage yet?

These comments, like many others here, blithely dismiss the OTD person’s struggles and difficult decisions. It makes an OTD person sound like someone trying out vegetarianism, someone who will drop it at all at the sight of a good chicken sandwich. If you really think the person will come back, keep it to yourself.

3. Were you abused? Variations: Were your parents divorced? Who hurt you so badly that you are leaving Hashem? What’s the real reason for all this?

Many OTD people have had bad experiences with the frum community, but not all. There are many reasons for leaving a Torah lifestyle and abuse is only one of them. This type of comment translates into: you are leaving the Torah lifestyle because you are broken, maybe you are even mentally unwell. But, the good news is that all you need is a competent therapist. Also, look- it's very unlikely that an abuse victim will suddenly share his or her most traumatic experiences with you out of the blue. Don't be weird.

4. That’s what happens when you eat cholov stam. Variations: have you checked your mezzuzos? This is what happens when you let kids visit the library/wear denim skirts/ play with the neighbors/ go to MO schools.

These comments are simply useless. OTD people don’t think going to the library or eating cholov stam is evil and this type of statement just solidifies their impression of you as a superstitious and uneducated fundie.

5. You’re not really interested in the answers, are you? Variations: you are just leaving because you want to have an easy life/do drugs/have s-ex with everyone you meet.

Not only is this attitude dismissive of the person’s struggle, but it also evidences your basic misunderstanding of the secular world. The OTD person is not taking the easy way out. He has lost his whole family and community. She may be losing her children in a religious custody battle. Many have to re-educate themselves to get a job. OTD people have searched high and low for religious answers and they haven’t found them. And, fyi, the secular world is not defined by drug-induced orgies. Real life is not a “Who’s Your Baby Daddy” talk show.

6. But non jews have such empty lives! Variations: How can you leave such a meaningful life for a world of sheker? non jews will never accept you, they all hate Jews.

OTD people understand that the Torah lifestyle is meaningful to you. But again, the secular world is not a “My Mom Slept with My Boyfriend” talk show. Regardless of what you were taught in school, most secular people live meaningful and productive lives. They raise their families, they help those in need, and they are accepting of other cultures. This comment reveals your ignorance about the secular world and also implies that the OTD person before you is a shallow and empty excuse for a human being.

7. Don’t you want your grandchildren to be Jewish? Variations: You’re killing your mother/father, how will your siblings get married, how can you be so selfish? Your ancestors died for the Torah and you are throwing it away.

These guilt trips do not help. They might make the OTD person feel bad, but, ultimately, won’t change his or her decisions. Think about it: if your perspective or world view radically changed, would you really limit the outcome based on what your grandchildren or siblings may or may not do? You might hide it more, but not forever. It’s kind of like saying to a BT: What? You’re becoming a chossid? But don’t you want your grandchildren to have a secular education? Don’t you want them to have a job?

8. I’m davening for you. Variations: I’m so sad for you, I’m saying tehillim for you, Hashem should help you.

OTD people don’t have cancer. They view their decision in a positive light, as difficult as it may be. They don’t want to be pitied and they don’t want to be viewed as defective. If you want to daven for them, don’t tell them about it.

9. Do you really believe in dinosaurs? Variations: You know, evolution is just a theory, haven’t you heard of the watchmaker analogy, let me tell you the Kuzari proof for Matan Torah, do you really think the Rambam didn’t think of all these questions first? Was Rashi a fool?

If you are going to debate science or history with an OTD person, be very well prepared. They have studied the arguments pro and con and know details that your education probably did not cover. If you make silly generalizations, you will look like an idiot.

10. Mean things. Are you trying to finish Hitler’s work for him? You were never really one of us to begin with, I can’t let my children play at your house anymore, why doesn’t your wife divorce you?

I was shocked at how many horrible things people have said to OTD folks. Everyone understands that you feel strongly about the Torah lifestyle, but comments like the above just alienate the OTD person even further. If you really can’t eat at the person’s house or let your kids play there, handle it under the radar. Be a mentch.

What do OTD people want? Just be kind. Be supporting and hear them out without judgment. Don’t ask them over for a meal just so you can mekarev them. Don’t have coffee with them so you can convince them to keep Shabbos. Be a good friend, just as you would be to anyone going through a difficult phase. And if you can’t, because you’re too hurt, at least don’t say anything.
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greenfire









  


Post  Tue, Sep 17 2013, 1:16 pm
gotta love these ...

I confess I did laugh out loud by the

"That’s what happens when you eat cholov stam."
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EmesOrNT









  


Post  Tue, Sep 17 2013, 1:17 pm
How about the nasty things OTD people say about their religious counterparts?
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Ruchel









  


Post  Tue, Sep 17 2013, 1:18 pm
The problem goes both ways.

Also between charedi and dati.
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slushiemom









  


Post  Tue, Sep 17 2013, 1:18 pm
So true! A very close friend of mine made the decision not to be religious any more (she's incredibly intellectual and philosophical and in her mid 20's - this is not a rebellion thing for her) and she's gotten all of these comments and she hates it!
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marina









  


Post  Tue, Sep 17 2013, 1:19 pm
EmesOrNT wrote:
How about the nasty things OTD people say about their religious counterparts?


Feel free to write up a top ten list. It might be very interesting.
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Ruchel









  


Post  Tue, Sep 17 2013, 1:21 pm
There's also a difference between someone who goes less frum and someone who goes OTD. In some circles it's the same :/

Also a difference between someone who goes OTD as in "traditional but non shomer mitsvos", or even fully frei but a normal life, and someone who starts drugs and partying and very weird crowd.
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bamamama









  


Post  Tue, Sep 17 2013, 1:24 pm
Well done, Marina.
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sequoia









  


Post  Tue, Sep 17 2013, 1:24 pm
Drugs and partying are not forever either, usually.
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fromthedepths









  


Post  Tue, Sep 17 2013, 1:29 pm
Nice post. I have a couple of questions/comments, but no time. Will try to come back.
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shlomitsmum









  


Post  Tue, Sep 17 2013, 1:46 pm
So what should people say or do?
If they do care for their fellow OTD friend.

MYOB is not possible sometimes .... Sad
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bamamama









  


Post  Tue, Sep 17 2013, 1:49 pm
shlomitsmum wrote:
So what should people say or do?
If they do care for their fellow OTD friend.

MYOB is not possible sometimes .... Sad


At the point when someone is ready to go OTD, you can't say anything to reverse their decision. So it's best to keep your comments to yourselves. Concern-trolling only begets resentment.
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amother






Post  Tue, Sep 17 2013, 1:57 pm
TOP TEN THINGS OTD PEOPLE SAY :
1. I feel free ( if youre so free , why the need to repeat thyself much)
2. There's proof ! ( yada yada for everything you prove , we have some proof back at ya )
3. I have a new life ( yet you all hang out with people mostly from your old life?)
4. We just wanted to be happy ( and, are you?)
5. All this kiruv ! YUK ! ( and yet , you create support groups..kiruv much?)
6. We just want respect ( but first you must give respect)
7. We are still moral. Moral has nothing to do with religion( yet large percentages of OTD ( do the research) are involved in promiscuous behavior\ drug\alcohol\etc.- many of these behaviors being immoral)
8. We love our children ( yet weren't willing to sacrifice your own happiness for their sake, which is what good parents do despite having to "live a lie" etc.)
9. We have nothing against anyone ( so why the hateful posts? hmm?
10. I believe in equel rights ( so let us have our rights to believe will ya ?)
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amother






Post  Tue, Sep 17 2013, 2:07 pm
Just ran it by my OTD sib and he said it's very accurate-he's heard all of them aside from number 10.
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Barbara









  


Post  Tue, Sep 17 2013, 2:57 pm
amother wrote:
TOP TEN THINGS OTD PEOPLE SAY :
1. I feel free ( if youre so free , why the need to repeat thyself much)
2. There's proof ! ( yada yada for everything you prove , we have some proof back at ya )
3. I have a new life ( yet you all hang out with people mostly from your old life?)
4. We just wanted to be happy ( and, are you?)
5. All this kiruv ! YUK ! ( and yet , you create support groups..kiruv much?)
6. We just want respect ( but first you must give respect)
7. We are still moral. Moral has nothing to do with religion( yet large percentages of OTD ( do the research) are involved in promiscuous behavior\ drug\alcohol\etc.- many of these behaviors being immoral)
8. We love our children ( yet weren't willing to sacrifice your own happiness for their sake, which is what good parents do despite having to "live a lie" etc.)
9. We have nothing against anyone ( so why the hateful posts? hmm?
10. I believe in equel rights ( so let us have our rights to believe will ya ?)


Why are any of these things offensive to you? Your list sounds more like Marina's list of things not to say to OTD people than offensive things OTD people say to you.

1. I FEEL FREE.

Many people do feel restrained by a religious lifestyle. You don't, which is a good thing. Thus, while it would be offensive to tell you, "you are so restrained that you don't understand what it is to live freely" (for example), you have no ability to judge how THEY feel about anything.

2. THERE'S PROOF.

Your "yadda yadda" sounds offensive. There is no "proof" of religion. Its all based on belief. And there is proof, or at least very significant evidence, of many scientific and historical things that some right-wing Jews reject.

3. I HAVE A NEW LIFE

Having a new life doesn't mean rejection of everyone from your "old" life.

4. WE JUST WANTED TO BE HAPPY.

You ask are they? Well, presumably, yes, your assumptions to the contrary. As noted above, no one gets to judge another person's happiness.

5. ALL THIS KIRUV. YUK

This would appear to be in response to attempts to convince them to change. There's an obvious difference between kiruv and support.

6. WE JUST WANT RESPECT.

Of course that should go both ways. But why does one person have to go first? Why do you feel that you have the right to disrespect someone for his choices, but at the same time demand respect from him?

7. WE ARE STILL MORAL.

Are you seriously saying that you are offended by someone stating that he can live a moral life without Orthodox Judaism?

Let me tell you about my friend Lynn. She was born a Jew, but found Jezus in her 20s. In addition to raising her lovely daughters and caring for her aging parents, she fostered an immigrant family. She also volunteers with the homeless, bringing them food and warm clothes and, no matter when their last shower, hugging them and praying with them. She's been known to park her car when she sees a homeless person, to get out and to offer them help. She is tireless in fundraising for them, getting socks and mufflers and whatever they need. I'll be honest. I may not agree with her religiously, but she is a far better person than I am.

8. WE LOVE OUR CHILDREN

Again, you are judging that the children are better off as Orthodox Jews, and happier that way. Its not always the case.

9. WE HAVE NOTHING AGAINST ...

Well, if they are saying something nasty about Orthodox Jews, that should be your complaint. Lots of OTD people have nothing against Orthodox Jews.

10. I BELIEVE IN EQUAL RIGHTS

Ditto. If an OTD person tells you that you have no right ... to kosher shechet, or to brit milah, or whatever that's offensive. Saying they believe in equal rights? Do you believe that a woman should be entitled to be called to the Torah? Well, then, things aren't equal. You have the right to believe. So do they.
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EmesOrNT









  


Post  Tue, Sep 17 2013, 2:59 pm
To be clear, that amother list was not what I had in mind at all.
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Barbara









  


Post  Tue, Sep 17 2013, 3:01 pm
EmesOrNT wrote:
To be clear, that amother list was not what I had in mind at all.


To be clear, I didn't think it was what you had in mind.

I would guess yours would start with something like, You only think that you've chosen this way of life, because you are so repressed that you cannot understand real freedom. Or something like that.
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Ruchel









  


Post  Tue, Sep 17 2013, 3:03 pm
There are born-frei people who are into drugs and partying, but it seems that proportionally they are fewer, or it is more hidden, or not seen as as normal... it may just be an impression, but most of my frei and non Jewish friends do not have on their fb some types of pics I see on some "high profile" OTD ones. Partying in tights, pic on all fours tongue out... stuff like that.

I'm not the only one to have noticed. And to have wondered why they couldn't be lite MO, or traditional, or normal-frei instead.

Again I'm not saying it's all of them. My OTD uncle married in his early 20s to a woman he stayed 100% faithful to and devoted his existence to and they led the most "domestic" life ever, while eating pork and stuff.
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shlomitsmum









  


Post  Tue, Sep 17 2013, 3:11 pm
I asked because is good to know so as not to alienate or annoy people further from Judaism.
Asking why or expressing pity is obviously impolite ,fake concern is always repulsive in any area not just OTD.


So ....

I just sort of carry on as if nothing has happened and treat the girl I know the same as before . I don't judge her but I feel guilty for not saying anything or even addressing the issue..... That is why I wanted to know IF there was something one can say that can be helpful or constructive.
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Ruchel









  


Post  Tue, Sep 17 2013, 3:13 pm
Sometimes one can be helpful... but the risk of alienating them further is so very big...
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