Forsaken! Hardly!! ©

By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This essay is offered in the loving memory of Mr. Arnold Student Litman who excelled in thought. He was a graduate of Harvard and a decorated World War II veteran. May he rest in peace. May his memory be for good!

Dovid Ha Meleck offers each Baal Te Shuvah comforting insights.

After returning to Hashem, each baal teh shuvah faces similar situations depending on where they return from. Many of us face the total and complete rejection and isolation of mother, father, sister/s, brother/s, close relatives and people whom we classified once as friends. I refer to them as angry souls. This is an experience many of us face. The reason this happens is multifaceted. However in Judaism personal shame and embarrassment usually are at the top of the list followed by anti Semitism. The angry souls ask questions like, Why can't you be normal? Why do you have to be different from everyone else?

The angry souls feel like they are losing their grip on the baal teh shuvah. They feel an urgent need to corral the repentant soul's serious desires to return to G-d. They are extremely threatened by any movement towards Shabbos observance, kashrus, Torah study, black hats and shaitls. Essentially there is little anyone can do about their sudden panic attack!

When Shabbos observance, kashrus, Torah study, black hats, shaitls,... appear on the horizon the angry souls feel compelled to do something. They feel the urgent need to mobilize. They MUST react to this sudden surge of fanaticism. They MUST control it! They MUST stamp it out! They cannot let it get out of hand! The angry souls solicit support from other angry souls. Together they strike with great force. They plan and scheme. They make many, many, many attempts - executing countless assaults - to conquer and defeat the repentant heart of the baal teh shuvah.

The baal teh shuvah who has faced wave after wave of such volatile assaults may wonder, Will the angry souls stop at anything? Will they ever cease their campaign to neutralize my life of Torah observance? Will they ever accept my commitment to G-d?

Unfortunately, the answer is a bold, upper case NO! Do not expect anything from the angry souls but more of the same. They will continue their hydraulic vice-like pressure.

The angry souls feel betrayed by a close relative. The penalty for such betrayal is life in hell without parole, G-d forbid. You have been selected as the most likely to get a knife in your back, G-d forbid.

So how does a baal teh shuvah respond to the angry souls? Actually there is little that you can do unless you forsake Torah observance, G-d forbid. Unfortunately, you're at a life long impasse with the angry souls. They will not give up and the baal teh shuvah cannot give up. There is no place for shalom! Many a baal teh shuvah has tried many approaches to find a neutral place with the angry souls but there is NONE!

The angry souls are close to receiving a dose of G-d's wrath for what they have done and are doing, G-d forbid! Yet, they would rather die than quit. Eventually most baalei teh shuvah end up in a state of isolation from the angry souls. That is about as good as it gets.

The baal teh shuvah is forced to live a life of isolation from those loved and dear. Usually this cannot be avoided. So what does one do?

Dovid Ha Meleck took comfort in G-d. In fact, he cherished his relationship with G-d. That is what the baal teh shuvah must do. Dovid said, "Though my father and mother have forsaken me G-d will gather me in." Tehillim 27:10 G-d has a very special place for the baal teh shuvah. When the angry souls reject the baal teh shuvah, it is G-d who goes out to the lonely park bench along the lake looking for us. When the angry souls attack us, it is G-d who defends us! When the angry souls attempt to break and hurt us, it is G-d who picks up the pieces and heals us! I KNOW! MY WIFE KNOWS! MY FRIENDS KNOW! In fact we are V E R Y C L O S E T O G-D because of what we experience in this life. Can you think of a better, more comforting place to be in this life?

Forsaken, hardly! ! The baal teh shuvah has given up much to enjoy being a student in the Bais Midrash of Hashem. That is what we are all about. We enjoy being with G-d more than anything in this world!

Wishing you the best,

Dr. Akiva G. Belk ...a baal teh shuvah enjoying the Bais Midrash of Hashem


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