The Matzav Shmoooze: Why Did I Go Off the Derech – And Why Do Others?

24

times squareDear Editor@Matzav.com,

As a so-called former “teen at-risk,” I’ve wanted to write this letter for a long time, so here it is. I am hoping that Matzav readers will understand my important point.

We all read articles and hear speeches about why kids go off the derech or do things that go against the way they were brought up. You’ll hear terms like abuse, lack of love, poor academic skills and the like.

In my eyes, this is all hogwash. The reason I and many others went off is simply because the things we began doing were more exciting and fun. That’s it. The world out there looks enticing. Freedom beckons. We give in to our urges and we are pulled away from Torah life.

Some of us, like myself, end up getting it out of our system and realize that while it may be fun and entertaining, it doesn’t have any long-term substance. So someone like myself came back and settled down. I worked through my issues. I’m getting there.

But my point here is this: The reason teens go off is because it is easy, and fun, and hard to resist the temptations of the world. Let us stop blaming parents and schools and rabbeim and teachers for the at-risk epidemic. It is not their fault and never was their fault. We live in an in-your-face society that throws the colorful enticements of the world at a teen. When you line up a life of school, and learning, and a seemingly dry life of living a certain way against the flash and glitz and fun of the immoral world out there, a teen will often take the easy road. It’s as simple as that.

Matzav readers, it is about time that this elementary truth be understood and accepted.

Sincerely,

Been There

{Matzav.com Newscenter}

 

24 COMMENTS

  1. Its not true. There are Many reasons why peopple go of the derech. The main reason why is if you dont fit the mold you are accepted. I was once in a supermarket a few a year or two after high school waiting online to pay and the person ahead of me in line asked me what yeshiva i go to. I told him i work and he was like owe and cut the conversation. Thats why peopple go off the derch if you are a liitle diffrent then evreybody or a diffrent backround you are not exepted and thats wrong.

  2. Kudos to this letter writer. He should’ve been at the Aguda Convention and summarized their long debate with a 1 minute explanation. Of coarse its the Yetzer Horah, plain and simple as he put it.

  3. Thank you, been there, for your article! You are so right! There is also aome merit to the argument that a child just became uninterested, רח”ל, and to the argument that the home environment and/or the schhol may have been a contributing factor. BUT, by in large, that is not the blame! If a child couldn’t tough it out in the shelter of his home or school, he ain’t gonna make it on the street!
    Your points were well presented!
    Thank you! And, welcome back! Ring my bell one day and let’s shmooz!

  4. you might think its not the parents or teachers fault, but when a child sees his parent with the latest technology & sitting on the internet etc… he gets pulled down with them & starts to be involved in the tumah of the world. while his father might be using it for his work the child is looking at it as his desire & internet. if you want to save your children from going off the derech C”V then remove the tumahs of this world from your home. leave your technology at your office at work & if your office is at home then put a serious lock & leave all technology inside so your childrens yidishkeit is not effected by it. we cant smoke, drink & use the internet etc,.. in front of our children & expect them not to see it & be effected by it HATZLACHA

  5. Shmuel, you are wrong! 100% wrong. I know many people who went off ad their parents where more frum than most people you know. The parents can shelter their children from everything in the world, but non matter how hard you try outside influences can always get in.
    It is society as a whole, who needs to be on the lookout for signs of a child getting pulled in the wrong direction. Not just their parents and teachers. Everyone! And then look up and try to help them find their place among us.

  6. Aharon (comment # 1) and Shmuel (comment # 5) you two have from the funniest comments I have ever read on this site. You both gave me a laugh out loud moment so thank you for making my day better. I mean after all, you clearly both know better why the person who went off did so. How could he possibly know why he went off???? What was he thinking??? Man, he should have come to you to so you guys can explain to him why he went off. I guess you taught him!. Now he knows and I am sure he is so thankful for you two setting him straight. Wow!!!

  7. Such a sad letter, all the reasons given are probably true for different situations. May Hashem Yisborach have rachmonus on all His precious children!

  8. The underlying premise might be a lack of sincerity. If the Idishkeit is all about fitting in a certain social circle and coincidentally observing some rituals not necessarily imbued with meaning and emuna, then the more adventurous types might try out other social circles and fall for the shiny nothingness of the goyishe world. We can’t fight the hype and superficiality of eitser hora with our own hype and superficiality; the only path to victory is meaning, depth, and emuna. Unfortunately, the prevailing approach in contemporary hinuch is concentrating on chitsonius of uniformity. Even the great idea of fighting the internet addiction only takes care of a single symptom, not the entire disease of the prevailing emptiness. There has to be a total reshuffling of our institutions and approach to chinuch in order to come back to the path of meaning and sincerity. Only then can we hope to defeat eitser hora.

  9. The answer to the question:”Whose fault is it?”, is not as this letter writer says, none of the above, but in reality, ALL OF THE ABOVE. What is one kid’s way out off the derech, is not another kid’s. Each kid has his own reason and they may all be different, but they are all included in the letter writer’s list.

  10. While this letter is well written and coming from someone seemingly well meaning, I still have to totally disagree with you. And the reason why I disagree with you is simple; if a child from earlier on is given the opportunities to love and appreciate all that torah life and yiddishkeit has to offer he will not be looking for any other alternatives…because fact is there in nothing more rewarding and fullfilling then living the torah way. And while its true that today there are more kids off the derech then ever before but also today, klal yisroel has so many young and brilliant bnei torah to offer, who from when they were in their teens were learning and absorbing torah and growing in yiras shomayim. Theses children are not looking for any other alternatives and are not intimidated by, as you like to say “the flash and glitz and fun of the immoral world out there”. And why are these boys who are excelling in torah and yiras shomayim, why are they not sucked up by whats out there? And why is it these boys are not intimidated by all of this so called excitement and fun of the secular world? Answer is simple-because they love and appreciate the beauty of torah and mitzvos. And so it all really does boil down to if a kid is given the opportunities to succed earlier on and thats where parents, rabbeim and schools do play a very big role in those crucial earlier years for a child, that in many cases could make it or break it for a child. So I beg to differ with your reasoning.. Wishing you hatzlocho…

  11. BT, thanks for your personal opinion, and kudos to you for B”H returning!

    1) since you haven’t indicated WHY some teens “give in to our urges” while others don’t, you are actually not addressing the roots of the problem at all.
    2) nobody should ever have to feel that a torah life is “a seemingly dry life” – even when compared with the outside glitz

    much hatzlacha!

  12. I wish much hatzlocha to the letter writer in his quest to return. It is to his credit that he’s sharing his story in an attempt to help others. However, as sincere and honest as he is, there are those whose reasons for leaving are abuse, neglect and other bad experiences. He is fortunate that he hasn’t experienced the very real anguish and trauma (which can even invoke suicidal thoughts, impulses and even attempts) that some people went through.

  13. This is a clear scare, but the real scare is not the kids of the orthodox who go slightly off the derech. The real scare and criminal scary fate is that there are jews born in to non-religious families who will never know that a derech exists and their beginnings will destroy half of their even potential neshama and family. We must worry about those who are jewish and not learning Torah.

    Scary. A reform jew today is more likely to harm himself or his own fate in ways that are unimaginable to anyone who learn Torah. And to the uninformed Reform or conservative jew, there was no education to even tell him that a G-d of Abraham is real in this universe. This is a very bad experience.

    Find your derech and keep your ways.

    Torah is trainable.

    Shalom.

  14. Obviously, they have bechirah chofshis (free choice) and give into their yetzer hora’s when they go off, but is there really no connection between difficulties kids encounter? It’s known that kids with challenges have a noticeably higher level of going off, and it’s not always cruel parents or teachers, or nasty ones or even whose with bad middos. It could be difficulty academically (a huge parshah, with many causes), illness, death, divorce in the family, unemployment of a parent, moving to a different city, whatever. Of course, not all kids with challenges go off, and kids who have beautiful childhoods can, but my experience shows that it definitely tips the balance. From a mother of two kids not at home, and others who threaten to join…chas v’shalom

  15. to the person in comment 1; you don’t learn and you don’t speak/write properly either. you don’t fit anywhere. where do you work? to all the other people who made comments; the letter writer is partially correct. sometimes parents are at fault, sometimes the yeshiva system is at fault, and sometimes its what the author spoke about. technology is part of the world. we must use it wisely. go tell your child not to do homework. theyre not permitted on the internet. the teacher said use the computer; “‘ my mommy and daddy don’t let me”’. youre child will sound really stupid. I heard a story that a student had homework and the father took her to a congragents home (by the father is a rabbi.) so the owner of the computer could do the homework. now tell your daughter to marry a kollel boy and support the family for the next 40 years. w/what skills?????

  16. totally agree with this article. ive been in chinuch for 20 years and seen all that you said. It is for this reason we arestarting a new high school in monsey. Our idea is to create an accepting environment that will give bachurim a geshmak in yiddeshkeit with alot of warmth and care. We will have extra curricular activities that will add to the overall ruach and strive to produce solid ehrliche yidden. please visit our new website at yhsmonsey.org and please give us feedback.

  17. This comes from a shallow train of thought and those who agree fall into the same category. The author himself says at the end “When you line up a life of school, and learning, and a seemingly dry life of living a certain way against…”. That itself show that he wasn’t getting a chiyus from his yiddishkeit which is one of the reasons people make wrong decisions. Also, no one knows all the details to his story so you can’t come to any conclusions.

  18. No wonder you became frum again. You were never OTD for the right reasons. Those in the frum community working on solutions don’t need to worry about stam ba’alei tayvah like you for the simple reason that you are not a threat; you have no tochen and you will be back as soon as you realize kugel is more geshmak than strip clubs. No, the real loss to Klal Yisroel is those minds that think far deeper than yours, that could deal with their tayvos if not for other, more complex issues. But go on and presume we’re all slaves to our desires like you are. We’ll see if your kugel ever brings me back.

  19. No wonder you became frum again. You were never OTD for the right reasons. Those in the frum community working on solutions don’t need to worry about stam ba’alei tayvah like you for the simple reason that you are not a threat; you have no tochen and you will be back as soon as you realize kugel is more geshmak than strip clubs. No, the real loss to Klal Yisroel is those minds that think far deeper than yours, that could deal with their tayvos if not for other, more complex issues. But go on and presume we’re all slaves to our desires like you are. We’ll see if your kugel ever brings me back.

  20. Rav Chaim Pinchos Scheinberg ztz”l used to say: “Nachalti eidosecha ki sasson libi heima” Torah is not passed down as an inheritance, but simchas hatorah is passed down! When a child sees the joy and happiness that a parent gets from learning Torah and doing mitzvos, only than will he inherit a life of Torah.

  21. There are numerous reasons and rationalizations.
    During the 70s, 80s and 90s we had theTeshuvah Explosition.
    Now the OTD phenomena.
    Thing go through cycles all part of Golus.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here