Rav Chaim On Accepting Baalei Teshuvah into Yeshivos

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Rav Shmuel Boruch Genut, who is close to Rav Chaim Kanievsky, reported in the Israeli Yated Ne’eman that Rav Chaim was recently asked by the director of a cheder in Elad whether he should accept a ba’al teshuvah to teach at his institution. In response, Rav Chaim pulled out a volume of the Rambam and paged to Hilchos Teshuvah, from where he read:

“A person should not think that a ba’al teshuvah is far from the heights of the tzaddikim because of the sins and transgressions he committed. This is not so. Rather, he is beloved and pleasant before the Creator as if he never sinned. Furthermore, his reward is great, for he tasted the taste of sin and left it and conquered his inclination. The chachomim said: The place where ba’alei teshuvah stand, complete tzaddikim cannot stand in, etc.”

Rav Chaim’s intent was clear.

Rav Genut added that he once asked Rav Chaim whether ba’alei teshuvah should be given preference when it comes to tzedokah, for the Sefer Hachinuch (Mitzvah 431) writes of the mitzvah to love the convert that this mitzvah also teaches to have mercy on anyone who is torn away from his birthplace and family.

“If so,” Rav Genut argued, “we should invest more efforts in helping ba’alei teshuvah, who are physically and mentally far removed from their families and friends.”

Rav Chaim agreed, noting, “When one needs to give financial assistance to needy ba’alei teshuvah families, one should give them special help. And sometimes, where relevant, it is worthwhile to even give them precedence to other families.”

David Steger – Matzav.com Israel


      • How many kids who come from non balteshuva families arent accepted or thrown out?? The answer is plenty. Look outside your own prejudices.

  1. This is not even a question….

    Also the Rambam isn’t talking about baalei teshuva like we use the word. Which “frum” person hasn’t done aveiros and then done teshuva?

  2. It is sad that it has to even be a question. Why is common sense not so common among so many people? Why is an asay in the Torah of vehavta lereyacha komoicha trampled on every day by our so called mechanchim who have the elitist attitude that we are better than them and cannot have them in our schools? Why is the pain and suffering of our brethren disregarded and ignored all for a krum cause? Just a few unanswered questions that beg answers but none ever surface

  3. A: This question should never have been asked. B: Does this mechanech not know how to open a Rambam himself? No common sense. No hergesh for fellow yiddin. No humility. None.

    • Quite judgmental, are we?

      It is quite probable that the principal was well aware of the type of answer Rav Chaim would give.

  4. Careful if you do not ease around a Ba’al Teshuvah. His challenge to make his judaism right for Torah and G-d is more than most. The sins he endures before Torah is even discussed in his life are magnanimous and his faith in G-d must be even more so.

    The safe bet is that even Moses himself would have been carefully qualified to be a Ba’al Teshuvah. His learning took place unlimited among the pharaoh and his table. Still, Moses was the one Hashem chose to lead our nation.

    Careful to think that the ba’al teshuvah must have community support and human experience. The hate of any of his challenges may be the unsettling of your own faith if you are not careful about your own fear of G-d.

    Seeing a Ba’al Teshuvah should give you reason to fear G-d. He is always the safe bet that his hope and his teshuvah will be acceptable to G-d and that his fate and his faith will grow with Israel.

    The world was not created without the evil impulse added in the Garden of Eden. Seeing that, it explains why we have reform and conservative judaism. Anyone to break free from the bonds of the wicked, ask your syangogue or yeshiva for help and hold Torah high is a hero of Jewish life.

    I can only hope that a Ba’al Teshuvah must be included in all jewish life. His values are smart and he will know G-d maybe even better than the most careful non-ba’al teshuvah orthodox jew.

    Just a thought. Until you learn what was wrong in your life as a jew before becoming trusted to learn Torah, you will never know what is right in Israel in the best sense of G-d.

    It is very important to keep Kosher. That is the very first step. The rest can be conducive to growth.

    And we must help the others with Kiruv. Kosher is indeed the first ready thought to help them learn. Maybe we can have more ba’al teshuvahs. It would help Israel feel must more right with Torah.


  5. I”m sorry, but I think that your headline is somewhat misleading. It implies that the question is whether or not we should admit BaalTeshuva students into yeshivos. That is a non question (which thus prompted many of the responses).
    The question of whether or not we should hire one is not so Pashut (and hence requires a R” Chaim to answer)
    since although they may be very sincere and erlach, their hashkofos may need some fine-tuning and we may not want to expose our children to such dayos.


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