Family Friction: Kiruv (Outreach) Response on Ask the Rabbi
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Family Friction

I am a new Baal Teshuvah and have been struggling with my family's acceptance of my new way of life. After the March of the Living, I realized that I wanted to take my interests in Judaism further than ever before and that I wanted to increase my level of observance. Over the past year, I have become kosher, completely Shabbos observant, attend Torah classes at the local yeshiva, have changed my wardrobe to one of modesty...

I am bursting with passion to know everything I never knew. I know this is how I want to live my life and I just wish my family could understand that this is not an adolescent phase. When I try to teach them things about Shabbos, they think they know it all and think I am crazy. How can I teach them that although there are many restrictions on Shabbos, it is a time of recuperation, rest, peace and happiness.

I need them to see that even though I've given up a lot, what I am receiving in return is far more important and wonderful. They make fun of my eating kosher by saying that treif is "real food." How can I open their eyes? How can I achieve my goal without completely separating myself from my family and loosing the closeness we once shared?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Sometimes the best way to impart a message is simply by setting a quiet example.

It does not seem at this point that anyone around you is interested in changing his or her life. It would therefore follow logically that anything you say will fall on deaf ears. A person needs to WANT to hear in order to really listen to what is being said.

Be patient, and the truth will prevail.

My sister became observant 10 years after I did. She says that the reason she became observant is because I never pushed it on her, and allowed her to just observe from afar. It seeped in.

It is very important that you discuss your challenges with a competent rabbi or mentor. That will help you process things and stay on the wonderful track you are now on.

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