Fellow Baalei Teshuvah will probably know what I mean when I use the word “struggle” in the context of their lives.
Struggling to explain to your friends why you won’t go out with them on Friday night.
Struggling to deal with the jibes about your new dresses which cover your knees.
Struggling to tell your parents why you don’t want to eat off the plates you used for the past 15 years.
Struggling to tell male acquaintances why you won’t shake their hand.
(For men, negiah works the opposite way, of course, and I suppose a black velvet kippa is a good substitute for a tzenua dress!)
Look at the list of examples above. They all deal with other people. It’s all about awkward social situations, losing friends, conflicting with your parents. You feel you can do this, and you want to do this. You want to give up your old ways, and start anew. But other people don’t want you to, or so it seems. (Personal faith struggles after becoming a BT are an entirely different matter, and probably something I’ll cover in a later post)
If you’re in the midst of dealing with these problems, then my heart goes out to you and I wish you much hatzlacha. I know exactly how it is, particularly as with regards to conflicts with parents.
But I have to say to you; these struggles are a part of your identity as a BT. They shape you, and they prove to those around you just how devoted you are to the Torah way of life! Don’t feel lesser if you can’t keep Shabbes totally, or have to eat at non Kosher restaurants because of your family. Instead, see it as a struggle which brings you closer to G-d. Your soul clearly yearns for the Torah if you feel this way. And while returning to your Jewish roots may be hard, it’s the best decision you’ll make.