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I wanted to notify you about a very good post on Kol B’Isha Erva: Defining our own derech. In brief, it is a response to a BT (baal teshuva) poster who feels disenchanted with his observant lifestyle and the community he is in. There are many good points in the original post and I recommend you go and read it and the comments. But in my opinion this is the most powerful part:

It’s important not to abandon common sense and the lessons learned by experience, parents, and even secular teachers. […]

I believe that, as baal teshuvas, we have the ability to create derechs that combine the best of both the secular and frum worlds, even if those innovations rankle those who follow the crowd. It takes koach and courage to buck the system, but BTs have already been there, done that. By bucking the secular system and joining orthodoxy, we have already proven ourselves willing to go against the grain. We have the ability to enact social change, and while that might make us dangerous to some, it also makes us pioneers to others.

I am not a BT, I am a convert-to-be. But in many ways the pressure to conform to the new, better way of life is the same. To be "in" we are told that we need to accept the whole package. But this sometimes means going against everything we learned as we grew up. And that’s not always healthy. Don’t throw all of yourself away. Re-evaluate it in the light of Judaism and keep what is good. Believe in yourself and your values. Don’t be afraid to create your own derech (way). And let the others label you "off the derech" as much as they want.

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