By Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin MA
Director: Jewish Professionals Institute. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Author: The Second World War and Jewish Education in America www.jpi.org/holocaust/
Formerly: Director Sinai Heritage Center (Wall Street) and AJOP Trustee
Part of a series on Matzav.com devoted to Kiruv Rechokim.
It has long been said that the Jewish Family is the central “institution” that has ensured the survival of the Jewish People throughout history, with the help of HKB”H of course. In a prior article the power of the Jewish family as an important ingredient in Kiruv Rechokim was mentioned. The Chumash itself tells us this from the time of Adam’s creation and his need for a wife, and then HKB”H tells them to be fruitful and multiply and fill up the Earth! The entire book of Breishis (Genesis) is focused on the “ten generations” from Adam to Noach and the next “ten generations” from Noach to Avraham Avinu. The focus is on the families of Adam and Eve’s descendants and then on Noach and then the Avos and Imahos (the Jewish Patriarchs and Matriarchs) and their children the Shevatim and how they all built famous families that in turn became the pillars of not just larger extended families “Batim” but of all the people and nations in the world.
The Jewish Torah world with its stress on family life has huge advantages over the modern world that unbendingly stresses the freedoms, ambitions and pursuits of the individual at the cost of ideas about marriage and building a solid family as early as possible in adulthood. By now it is old news that so many secular Jews are single well into their 30s and 40s when they eventually wake up too late to find good Jewish spouses. By now it is also well-known that there are “alternate” lifestyles devoid of traditional notions of a family with a mother and father. And by now the tragedies of divorces, assimilation and its concomitant spiraling out of control intermarriages in the general Jewish population is a well known phenomenon.
Frum families are probably the most powerful ultimate no-so-secret “weapons” that can easily become and be used as a magnetic base for successful Kiruv Rechokim. Getting an invitation to any Frum Jew’s home and joining that Jewish family and watching it interact around their table and informal socializing and chatting never fails to create a powerful impression and stirring in their minds, hearts and souls and the bringing out of the most profound feelings in secular Jews who have never experienced such things really.
The advantage of bringing someone home is that no matter the gender or the age there is usually someone for everyone to meet. Female guests can meet the Akeres Habayis the wonderful wife and mother of the children of the host. If it’s a male guests they can bond and talk with the Rosh Hamishpacha and all the other males in the family starting with the father and any brothers and grandfathers who may be at home.
A note of caution and encouragement for those who would love to host secular Jews in their homes or for those who already do that. Try to avoid situations where you have to invite guest to sleep over at your home because there are great questions of Tznius (modesty) and by you not knowing what goes on at night with strangers not familiar with the morality of Frum life. In many out-of-town situations this may not be possible. The best solution is to have a special annex that is secluded from the rest of the bedrooms. Better yet, try to find a neighbor who is better equipped to host guests or even better some Shulls have places and arrangements for sleep-over guests. Whatever the case may be you must always use great caution and discretion when it comes to people sleeping over in your house where you have your precious children who come first in safety. Some people also prefer not to have guests even for meals when they have older daughters around, or to have female guests when they have older sons in the house. Always use your Seichel (common sense) to establish the highest standards of Tznius and protection for the safety and sanctity of your family.
The note of encouragement is not to be overwhelmed when planning to have guests for Kiruv Rechokim. Too many people think they can “only” have people over for Shabbos and Yom Tov which is not true. Sure, if you have a way to comfortably and easily invite guests for meals on Shabbos and Yom tov and you have done so or think you are ready to do so then do it, but try to avoid having people over who may be Mechallel Shabbos and Mechallel Yom Tov by driving to your home on Shabbos and Yom Tov, or by them not knowing they should not ring your doorbell, speak on their phones or turn lights on or off on Shabbos and Yom Tov etc.
From my own long experiences in Kiruv Rechokim I have found that there are so many other days to invite secular Jews to your home that has the power of Kedusha (holiness) without resulting in any Chillul Shabbos or Chillul Yom Tov. For Shabbos it is not easy but there are ways such as inviting people for a Melave Malka (the special Saturday night meal) when the days are long enough to allow for lots of time to end Shabbos first. Preferably invitations for Shabbos should only be made when you already are able to guide your guests beforehand as to what to do or not to do or what to expect from a Shommer Shabbos family.
Here is a list of the most perfect times to have secular Jews over and give them a powerful taste of true Torah Yiddishkeit and still allow for everyone’s maximum freedom and from not feeling restricted or conflicted, when Kiruv guests are not yet ready for the full day of Shabbos at a Frum family, these are excellent other choices that really do work:
* Purim and Shushan Purim have so many opportunities for the meals and Mesibos (parties).
* Chanuka days and nights that are not Shabbos, with Hadlokas Neiros and Mesibos.
* Chol HaMo’ed Sukkos with its many opportunities for meals in the Sukkah, Bentching Lulav and Esrog and Simchas Bais HaSho’eiva parties.
* Chol HaMo’ed Pesach with opportunities of meals serving Matzah and all the special foods and deserts of Pesach.
* Motzei Shabbos Melave Malka parties.
* Lag Ba’Omer is a good time for picnics and bonfires.
* Tu B’Shvat when one can make meals and deserts serving all sorts of fruits and some people even have a “Tu B’Shvat ‘Seder’.”
May HKB”H always give us the right times and Siyata Dishmaya to offer our best times and efforts for Kiruv Rechokim and to bring about the Geula Sheleima Bekarov, Amen.
To be continued…