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My Forbidden Orthodox Love

I fell for the girl in the FBI T-shirt the first time I saw her. But she was religious, and I wasn’t.

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A Rebellious Orthodox Teenager’s Forbidden Love Affair

I broke away from my hometown’s Orthodox community. But the girl I wanted to date wasn’t sure she had the strength to follow me.

Prelude and Fugue

There are men who leave you for another woman, and there are men who leave you for a man. Then there are those who dump you for God.

It was a cold and windy December night in 2004, when four teenage girls walked into Jerusalem Pizza, a kosher pizzeria where I was working in the heart of Monsey, N.Y.

When the girls took off their coats and settled into a booth, I noticed three of them wearing the strict uniforms of Bais Yaakov of Monsey, an Orthodox girls’ school: dark flats, high black socks, pleated skirts three inches below the knee, and blue button-down shirts. The fourth girl, however, her blond hair in a ponytail, wore sneakers, short white socks, a denim skirt an inch above her knee, and a light blue top that said “FBI.”

Growing up in Monsey’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, I was taught from a young age that it was forbidden to look at, touch, or talk with girls. Looking, touching, and talking would be acceptable only when I was married, my rabbis said. The summer before, my parents had had a loud and chaotic divorce, and I had switched from Mesivta of North Jersey (my yeshiva) to East Ramapo High School. I was 16, and it was my first time attending public school, the first time in my life rabbis weren’t telling me what I could eat and wear, or whom I could talk to. But I still didn’t know how to do the things kids in public school seemed to have been trained to do all their lives: order a sandwich in the cafeteria, change in the locker room for gym class, or talk to girls.

I couldn’t take my eyes off of the girl in the FBI shirt, while she ate her pizza. I wondered why she was wearing a shirt that said FBI. But I hoped that her secular clothes meant that she had left the fold, too. She had crystal-blue eyes and a beautiful smile. I wondered if this was love. I had learned the word “love” six years earlier, when my grandmother yelled at me for signing a letter I wrote to her, “Sincerely, Moshe.” I didn’t understand why that upset her. Growing up, my parents and seven siblings didn’t hug me or use the word “love.” Instead, they yelled and hit. To feel warmth, I wore layers upon layers of clothing or lay down on the carpet where the sun was shining.

The next night, as I was closing the restaurant, the phone rang.

“My friend who was there last night likes you,” a girl told me.

“Really?” I answered skeptically.

“The one wearing the FBI shirt.”

“OK, put her on,” I said calmly, but my heart was pounding.

I asked the FBI girl to give me her phone number, so I could call her back when I got home. After we hung up, I pumped my fist and yelled “Yes!” into the empty restaurant.

When I called her from home later that night, she told me that FBI stood for Fabulous, Beautiful, and Intelligent. She said it was an old shirt she bought at the mall. I told her I liked it. She was a senior at Bais Yaakov of Monsey, she said, but she hated the uniform, all the people, and her parents.

“I think you’re really cute,” she said.

“Thank you. I think you’re really cute, too. And fabulous, beautiful, and intelligent.”

She asked me what my favorite color was. No one had ever asked me that before. I thought about her denim skirt and light blue shirt and answered, “Blue.”

It was late when we hung up, but I couldn’t fall asleep. I wanted to stay up all night and talk with her.

A week later, the FBI girl told me by phone that her mother had heard from someone in the community that we were talking (we had talked every night on the phone that week, except on Shabbos) and had threatened to take her cell phone away. We made a plan: She would stay over at a friend’s house for Shabbos, and we would meet Saturday afternoon at Bais Rochel (a girls’ yeshiva) close to her friend’s house and mine. Because it would be Shabbos and school wouldn’t be in session, no one would see us.

On Saturday, the FBI girl stood on a rock in front of the school, waiting for me. She wore a winter coat and a long black skirt. We found a spot on the grass in the back of the school.

“You’re beautiful,” I said, looking at her blue eyes. Her nose and cheeks were red from the cold. I wanted to kiss her, like I’d seen couples do in public school and in movies. I imagined it would feel soft and sensual. Just thinking about it made my stomach turn from excitement. I wondered if she was thinking the same.

I reached out and ran my hands through her straight blond hair. “It’s so soft,” I said.


“You smell nice, too.”

She smiled.

I should lean in toward her, I thought, and we’d magically be kissing.

“I should get back,” the FBI girl said. “It’s getting late.” She didn’t want her friend’s parents to grow suspicious.

She got up and brushed off the leaves that had stuck to the back of her skirt. We walked from the back of the school to the sidewalk alongside the road. I confessed that I was scared it would be the last time I would see her. We hugged and I smelled flowers in her hair.

“Can I kiss you?” I asked.

“Like a good boy,” she said.

“How does a good boy kiss?”

She pointed to her cheek. I was willing to do whatever she asked; all I cared about was seeing her again. I kissed her on the cheek, like a good boy, and held her.

When I arrived at Jerusalem Pizza to work the Saturday night shift several hours later, a minivan was sitting in the parking lot. No customers ever got to the store earlier than I did. When I walked into the store, I saw a couple sitting where the FBI girl had sat the night she came in with her friends. The woman approached me and said that she and her husband needed to talk to me. My body weakened and my head got foggy.

I sat across from the FBI girl’s parents in the empty dining room. The father rubbed his mustache. The mother sat forward in her chair. “I’m really not happy about this,” she began. She explained that she didn’t want her daughter talking to boys. Plus, I went to public school and didn’t wear a yarmulke! She had enough stress because she had another daughter to marry off, and her husband had already had one heart attack; did I want to give him another? She demanded that I call her daughter and tell her that we had to stop talking.

“I can’t do that,” I said.

The father finally took his hand away from his mustache. “My daughter is religious. You’re not. This will never work out.” She lived under his roof, he said, so she had to listen to his rules.

“I have to get to work,” I said angrily, and left the dining room.

The next morning, my cell phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number. I picked it up and it was the FBI girl. Her parents had taken her cell phone away, so she was calling from the house phone.

“Your parents came into the store,” I said.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

“It’s OK. It’s not your fault.”

In the background, I heard her parents yelling at her to get off the phone.

“Leave me alone,” she yelled.

“Get off the damn phone!” I heard her father yell.

The phone slammed down.

I couldn’t get the FBI girl out of my head. I couldn’t focus on my schoolwork. I went to sleep thinking about her—how smooth her blonde hair was, how we both liked mushrooms on our pizza, and how neither of us wanted to be the first to hang up after talking for hours. I wished I had hugged her one last time.

Whenever the pizza shop door opened the next month, I hoped to see her walk in again. But she didn’t. Her parents had been right: Our relationship wouldn’t work out. I needed to accept what the FBI girl’s parents already had: I went to public school and didn’t wear a yarmulke. Two weeks later, I started ordering sandwiches in the cafeteria, changing in the gym locker room, and I even started talking to public-school girls.

Read the sequel to Moshe’s story here.


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Ezikiel says:

can you please change the end that love would triumph? Maybe some years down the road, maybe you run into her after both of you had failed marriages? Like , it could never work out, and yet, mysteriously, it somehow did? Maybe there was a war, and both of you volunteered at an hospital? Or, better yet, you did aliah and met at a settlement in Israel? Maybe her father could have his second heart attack and you happen to be there and save his life, and then he sees that you are a good guy and the whole experience changes his outlook on life and he agrees that you marry his daughter? Or maybe it’s you, who comes back into the fold, study and become a great sage like in the story of Rabbi Akiva and Rachel? Anything but this….

    Candy Ross says:

    I totally agree with Ezikiel. The ending left me disappointed and empty. How can you give up if you truly love someone? Any happy, hopeful ending would have been better than this. My feeling? Get closer to G-d, and you’ll find the way.

      @ezikiel and @candice_rebecca:disqus are both silly and self serving responses to a non-fictional article about a time of transition in his life. This period of disappointment in his life helped him accept that certain things just couldn’t work and that he had to completely move on to experience what he was really chasing, which he did.

      @Ezikiel:disqus and Candy Ross are both silly and self serving responses to a non-fictional article about a time of transition in his life. This period of disappointment in his life helped him accept that certain things just couldn’t work and that he had to completely move on to experience what he was really chasing, which he did.

      You’ve both missed the point. The ending was SUPPOSED to leave you feeling disappointed and empty, because that’s how the author felt at the end of this episode.

      i guess if i had a name candy i would feel the same-it wasnt love, rocket surgeon-he didnt even know her-she made blood flow to his organ-he was trying to get laid-thats what boys do-hello???-what r u, like 9?

      Candy Ross, I’m not sure if you’ve ever been 16; true love occurs about 16 times a day with about 16 different people. Maybe one in 160 actually proceeds as far as Moshe got with FBI; ideally 1 in 1600 actually turns into a real, lasting relationship. The story Moshe describes is perfectly natural and normal–anywhere but meshugene Monsey–and actually helped him grow into a person capable, hopefully, of experiencing true love for longer than a few weeks. This is a “coming-of-age story”; you seem to be looking for a fairy tale. It’s important for an adult to understand the difference….

    I think that is the whole point, by the girl’s parents rejecting him outright based on appearances and community standards, before even trying to get to know him as a person, they led him further away from the religion (and probably didn’t give their daughter such a positive feeling about their superficial standards either).

      not first appearances and community standards, you airhead-they believe Torah to be true and dont want their daughter to marry a loser frei pizza boy that thinks he is a writer and will probably wind up as a drug addict, if he isnt already.

        Just so you know — not only is Moshe is a college grad, a righteous mensch, and completely self-sustaining, but he wrote a full book. I’m wondering what you’ve done with your life, good sir?

          a college grad making pizza-wow-you people in Monsey DO have some pretty stringent requirements for your pizza boys.-what did he study-it sure wasn’t writing–brilliant dude, to have spent his years in university, no doubt payed for with government loans that he will now way its no fair to have to pay back) studying something that brings him to the fine occupation of pizza boy.-brilliant.I would imagine that his “book” is as devoid of logic as is his life strategy.

          a college grad making pizza-wow-you people in Monsey DO have some pretty stringent requirements for your pizza boys.-what did he study-it sure wasn’t writing–brilliant dude, to have spent his years in university, no doubt payed for with government loans that he will now way its no fair to have to pay back) studying something that brings him to the fine occupation of pizza boy.-brilliant.I would imagine that his “book” is as devoid of logic as is his life strategy.

          magistralatina says:

          You DID notice that the pizza parlor was the author’s after school job while he was still in high school, didn’t you? DIDN’T you? Oh, you were too busy ranting about someone you don’t even know to pay attention, huh? Or maybe reading comprehension just isn’t your strong suit . . .

    no doubt u are a liberal to have this request-that is the diff betw libbs and sane people-
    liberals see the world the way they would like it to be
    conservatives see the world the way it is!

    Barnaby Yeh says:

    This isn’t fanfiction. Real Life doesn’t always have happy endings, and the above things didn’t happen.

Moshe, this is wonderful! Monsey and its craziness. Hope all’s going really well for you. I’m so happy you wrote a memoir!!! Where can I buy it? I still have your book of poetry on my shelf. Keep it up!
(P.S. I love the ending here. Even if you bump into her years later and you end up happily married, that’s not the point. The point is the feeling of being a high school kid: struggling with religion and different communities, feeling hormonal, alone, wanting and not being able to have.. you do a wonderful job of capturing that.)

gwhepner says:


My daughter-in-law, from Monsey NY,

is frum, and I am sure that she
doesn’t eat pork.

Her school was Bais Yaakov, which
means they kept hidden

from her all the pleasures to frum
girls forbidden,

but one of these pleasures she couldn’t

when she met a young man whom she
very soon kissed.

Once he got her pregnant she
didn’t object

to the bris that helped her son to
join the elect,

but still hasn’t given up her bitch
for him,

a Maltese with shaggy white hair
she calls Zoe,

with eyes just like hers, dewy,
dovey and doey.

She keeps her bod lovely each day
in the gym

although in Beis Yaakov they told
her the bod

of a woman is not what appeals to
her God.

It appeals to her father-in-law,
who’s writing this verse

to tell her she’s FBI, not as

as the Feds and the fracases Fedmen

but fabulous, beautiful,

Although, as she knows very well,I
am picky,

she’s the pick of the crop, for
she’s ripe and she Rikki.

    Okay, you realize that you sound like a perverted old man in your little poem, right? Lusting after his daughter-in-law?

    you make Moshe look like a good writer, and that aint easy-go jerk yourself off for the 4th time today, looooozzerrrrr!!!

Mushrooms?? Yuck

EvelynKrieger says:

Most likely it was a wonderful, first infatuation, not true love. Too bad you didn’t get to go to a modern orthodox, co-ed high school.

    Natan79 says:

    You really aren’t bright. You showed it already with that awful piece about being a dim mother who doesn’t want to let go of a daughter who’s 20 already. Thank God your daughter escaped your dumb clutches.

      EvelynKrieger says:

      I guess you didn’t recognize humor in my comment. FYI, My daughter and I remain very close and I’m quite happy for her. No need to insult.

        kweansmom says:

        I loved your article. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

Moshe, what’s the name of your book? I’d love to read more.

pitiful writing actually, or better, non-creative writing.

I dated someone FFB for six months and it was one of the worst experiences, if not the worst, of my life (I am a BT). My integrity was impugned, my feelings were hurt, my heart was broken, and I was made to feel less than human by all parties involved. My yichus wasn’t good enough, my finances weren’t good enough (even when I spent tons of money on the girl, that was criticized), and my family was put down. There is a social code of conduct which governs all Orthodox communal life, even among the so-called Modern Orthodox. Anything which goes against the tide is frowned upon, which is why in the future, should I decide to marry, it would only be with a baalat teshuva or a giyoret.

    kweansmom says:

    Why did you stay in such an awful relationship for six months? And why are you now generalizing from one family to the majority of Orthodox Jews? I think you should focus on finding someone who you love and want to marry, and stop writing off all FFBs because of one bad experience. (I’m glad my BT husband gave this FFB a chance!) Anyway, the article is about a family’s objection to their daughter dating someone who is not Orthodox. While I don’t necessarily agree with the father’s way of handling the situation, it’s very different than not wanting his daughter to date a BT.

RJH18 says:

This is a sad commentary on our religious youth. We have failed to inculcate them with proper values leading them to stray after a vain and unfulfilling life. We are once again enmeshed with the secular culture which surrounds us.

    nah- the Rabbis have madeJudaism boring-unless you love learning gemorah, it can get old quickly-the Rabbis do a terrible job of devleoping a love for God–most people do things, or dont do things, kuz they dont want to get in trouble with da big guy in da sky, but they dont do it out of love- relozory@0 says:

Actually, the writing is nice. Moshe got thrown into a situation that wouldn’t allow him to fit, jammed right in the middle. What a test! His attraction to FBI girl may have been his last link to the frum community, even though she may have been on the edges & he was reaching in from the outside. What could anyone have done differently to make it better? Beith Ya’aqov families ideally want their daughters to marry scholars, but at least someone who’s shomer miswoth to SOME degree. Moshe, through no fault of his own, is unfortunately no longer in that system. But where was Moshe’s community when he was ripped from yeshiva & thrown into public school like a cantonist child in Czarist Russia? He was ATTRACTED to FBI girl because of her frumkeit, marginal though it SEEMED to be. As far as sweet endings, how many 16 yr olds in the SAME social group have that? Is liking mushrooms strong enough of a value to hold a relationship together? (Can you imagine having a relationship w/a squirrel because it likes eating mushrooms w/you?). But HORMONES, sweet, sweaty HORMONES, like cocaine (?) gives the feeling that everything will be good. Moshe, your instincts about frum girls were correct & worth giving up treifa cafeteria food, maintaining modesty in a dressing room & talking to public school girls. My big picture observation is that HAVING a public school girl will make you feel far more empty than NOT having FBI girl! HaShem Yishmor othka!!!

i could give a crap that you left yiddishkeit-if i had a nutjob for a father like you did i would also have left-but to call you a writer?-that was 6th grade crap-there was nothing profound in it, and I would be surprised if there was anything deeper than a kiddie pool in your book-do you get into the philosophical reasons that you do not believe Torah to be true?-I doubt it-you wrote an article about wanting to shtoop some narcissistic girl (who the hell calls themselves fabulous, beautiful, and intelligent except a vain airhead??)-you better become good better at making pizzas than you did at making the chick, because outside of a small group of people that get their rocks off reading about going off the derech, you don’t have much talent, and will probably wind up rooming with your father in a homeless shelter.

    Pot calling the kettle black much?

    Hershl says:

    Shouldn’t you be sitting learning Torah, wiseass?

    If you are on the derekh then we are all in trouble.

    Barnaby Yeh says:

    When the pot calls the kettle a bad writer…

    Doctor Bucephalus says:

    Shakespeare wrote much more raunchy stuff about wanting to shtup some narcissistic girls who think way more of themselves than that ordinary teenager did. On the Internet, everyone’s literary opinions matter. By the way keep thinking you’re right about everything, keep thinking that being frummer makes it okay for you to say anything to anyone, regardless of how uneducated or awful it is, that menchlichkeit is optional towards the right people who don’t deserve it, and your kids will leave the derech.

    tooclose- for a guy that loves and professes the torah… u sure are full of hate/vulgarity/anger/ darkness/rudeness and just plain ugly… its guys like u that make getting closer to g-d just a chore with no meaning and pointless. i wuld never want to serve the god u serve. sounds like the god of selfrightousness to me. everything u post has no valildity when u post with so much negativity and hate. wat good are u doing to ur religion? from where i sit absolutely none. i feel bad for you- isnt getting closer to g-d suppose to free u up from that not make u more hateful? just wondering…

      The word you’re looking for, Clara Garcia, is “troll”: Tooclose–if that even IS his real name?!–isn’t a lover of the Torah or of anything; he’s a lonely pathetic sociopath who feeds off the abuse of people whom he’s never met and who have no need to wish him any ill. His problem is a curious mix of sadism and masochism, but the most lamentable aspect of his sickness is the fact that he gets a glow of pleasure every time someone insults him. Because otherwise he lurks in the shadows of his own lack of self-esteem and self-respect. The best thing to do with specimens of this type is to return them to their own darkness, where they can whither and wilt. Or maybe even find a better use of their over-abundant free time….

Hershl says:

What a wonderful story.

Keep up the good work.

Sorry Tablet, This piece belongs in a junior high school magazine. Why are all these kids so shallow? It’s so sad to read about one bright kid after another leaving the spiritual path our anscestors have followed for millenium and for what? To go on facebook, to hook up with shiksas? Does this really justify loosing ones life in this world and the next?

    brynababy says:

    Oh, what a narrow, arrogant comment! You stay in your world and allow Moshe to make his own choices. In the meantime, Jewish rabbis are being found guilty of the ugly sin of child sexual abuse!! What spiritual path are they on?!

Now if you went to public school AND wore a yarmulke – then you would have been one cool Jew!

Moshe, my son’s name, all went to a hebrew school, but went their seperate ways when they became young adults and married. One is married to a non-practicing Jewish girl, so their children no nothing about the religion. Moshe married an Italian, no children. my two girls married goyium. Everyone seems to be breaking away from judaism, especially in Charleston, S.C. where I have always lived. No jewish person wants to be jewish..they change their name and identity.

Barnaby Yeh says:

Something about freedom and personal autonomy vis-a-vis interpersonal relationships has somehow struck a bad chord with the frummies here…

    Diogenes says:

    Twas ever thus. The caged rabbits resent the ones who escaped.

Climbing Mt Everest

(Life, for many different people, could
be and should be an adventure, no matter where you start. Whether you’re lucky
enough to be blessed into an understanding, structured and stable home, or G-d
forbid, the opposite. Each person is born with their own personal voyage to
retreat to, and it is their responsibility to get there, guided, and not
PUSHED. cbg)

is a amazing Torahdikeh way to look at climbing a Mountain, especially Mt
Everest, because it’s not only the largest mountain in the world, it is the
most difficult, and there are so many things that one has to learn, from the
people in their lives, before even attempting such a climb. Just as in life,
one needs to have guidance and proper training to “climb” their own personal

As I stand here at the on the cliffs of Mount Everest, with the world right
in front of me, surrounded by clouds that block parts of my view, and a chilled wind blowing on my face, I try
and think back to the beginning of this long journey that has finally brought
me to this amazing point. I have not yet had the opportunity to reach the top
of the summit, and breathe the thin air that separates the mountain top from
the ground, down below. The trip, as you are aware of, came with much
difficulty, and I am sad to say, there were many people, who started the long
traitorous journey with me, who did not make it so far, but for whom I have
such high hopes. If only they could see the beautiful breathtaking views from
where I stand, and understand the excitement that is running through my veins,
as I get closer to the top of the summit. What an amazing beginning it was reaching the
base camp, the first of many hopeful accomplishments.

As is it known, I cannot take credit for my
destination on the Mountain alone, and am truly grateful for the Brochos that
have come my way in regard to the amount of help that followed me, guided me
and continued to, not only encourage me, but educate me throughout my journey.
The Sherpas are nothing more than miracle workers, paving the way for a safe
trip, over rock, ice, and in some unfortunate cases, reminding me and others that
it’s not always a smart move to climb too fast, and warned us over and over
again that it doesn’t pay to continue any higher unless you have the strength,
physically and mentally.

It’s amazing how many people come all prepared with
the right tools, like what to wear, what rope to use, and even more crucial,
how to tie the knots, and anchor yourself to the mountain. The most important
part is the structure of the anchors, and how deep they are put in, because if
the slightest slip happens, or a wind comes and pushes you, you can fall. The
list to climb is endless, and if you are missing any “instruments”, it can be a
matter of life or death. From the smallest things, such as what shoes to wear
to having the correct amount of oxygen, it is crucial that they are not only in
your backpack, but more importantly, taught how and what each individual item
is for. You’re instructed months, if not years, in advance how to start
training your body for the “beating” it can and will take, as the climbing
becomes more strenuous.

with all journeys, instructors and their teams are there to make sure that YOUR
safety comes first, and are honest with you, right from the start. If there is
the slightest chance that either your demeanor, mentally and physically, has
been compromised in any way, they are the ones who decide if you start,
continue, or even when only a small climb away from reaching the top, can say, that’s
it and have you turn around and go back down. You listen, if you’re smart, and
need the brains to realize that they are the voice of reason, they see things
that you can’t, from their angles, such as weather, and oncoming problems that
can arise from up high. Even the smallest hint that your mind is not straight,
because it is pertinent that your brain, because of the lack of oxygen, stays
sharp and your instructor/s will give you a series of tests, via radio, to make
sure you are still “in there”. This is
the only way to give you the assurance that your journey is going well and it
is not far from your destination, your goal and your dream, of climbing the
highest mountain.

as with many situations, there is never a sure fire guarantee that even with
all of the proper training, planning and guidance, that you will make it to the
top. Stuff happens, and life is never predictable, and no matter how cautious
you are, there are situations that one can not plan. Such as weather, which is
extremely important and can set one back for days, or broken bones from
slipping on the ice, and frostbite, which may or may not send you packing up
and heading back down to the main base camp. There are actually people, who for
whatever reason, get stuck and even find themselves with a life threatening
situation. They are forced to evaluate the circumstances and decide whether
you, as an individuals, are ready and ABLE to continue. At the same time, and it’s not a rare thing,
you find someone from a different team that is in danger, and has life
threatening injuries, and needs to be tended to. You and your team need to
carefully evaluate the entire situation, whether or not it’s worth the risk to
help save him/her. In some unfortunate situations, because of the dangers of
losing your own life, or just because you can see that the person is going to
die anyway, no matter what you do, you inform the ones down below that it’s
hopeless. There are other times that you come across people who will do
everything in their power to save a person who is in terrible trouble, and even
though it means that they themselves will not reach the top, at that moment in
time, will turn around and help them down the mountain to safety.

can we truly bring perspective to the climbing of the highest mountains , The
Absenter’s creations, to how we, as Yidden are living our lives today,
surrounded with Talmudei Chachmim,
Principals, Melamdim, Teachers, and especially parents, who are being
“directed” by the Torah, and being guided by our Mentors in life? HOW can we
become, as expected, one nation, yet again? What happens if a person, who has
reached HIS/HER point on the mountain and decides that he/she cannot keep up
with the rest of the team, be it from lack of strength or lack of
determination? If his/her load (from the backpack) is too much to handle, do
you just go on without them, or do you say to yourself, “this person needs
personal guidance, inspiration, or even needs to be evaluated, to see if maybe
there is a more serious problem”. At the same time, we must instill in our
children, from the start, “anchors”, and a structured way of understanding. If
you explain properly, why we live the way we do, and the difference between
Halacha and Tradition, and continue to instill beliefs with a love for them,
instead of forcing them , it can make a difference between an anchor being
pushed into the mountain with just a small push, or with a team effort.

who was born with the strength to endure all that is required of them, in this
world, is so much different than the person that had to struggle to get to
their own spiritual destination, and they both need to be guided on their own
levels. For those schools, communities and homes, that think that if a person
can’t hold up to THEIR decision to better THEMSELVES, they don’t deserve to be
part of their “world”, it is no different than someone who is trying to climb
the Mountain high and higher, against his will and then one day is told that HE
MUST continue no matter if he is secure or not. Eventually he will fall off the
mountain, and may even be lost forever. There is nothing wrong with someone who
is different, even if he is born with the strength and into a life where they
have the proper tools already but decide that he/she wants to follow a
different path. That person should be encouraged, warmly, without coercion, to
follow along the path which had been laid out for them. Unlike the ones who had
to acquire the tools and learn how to use them, either by themselves, or from
learning with a guide. Usually, the person that has to struggle the most to get
to a certain point in their life, appreciates the journey and the destination a
whole lot more than the ones who born into it. Making a vow, to continue
further up the “ladder of life” should not be a communal decision, nor can it
be a general decision, it MUST be an individual decision. Although, as time goes on, and society
changes, there needs to be people, such as Talmudei Chachmim, to look at the
whole picture and step up to the “podium”, to INSTRUCT the guiders in a way
that can help their communities “adhere to the voices of change.” When there is
a global problem that needs to be dealt with, a person can’t just stand at the
top of a mountain, with a microphone, and say to everyone, CHANGE, because
there is a problem! It needs to be addressed in a way that each person feels it
as their own obligation, as a Yid, to continue climbing. If a group of people
are on the mountain, and the guide, who understands all of them, because he struggled , as well, along with
his team, to get to where they are, then he, himself, is able to say to all of
them, that it’s time to go higher, and I will help you get there. He will not
judge nor force and demand that everyone go at the same pace, if they are not
ready for it. But, at the same time, it is very important for everyone in the
entire group to continue as a team, so a compassionate team leader will help
the ones who are not as strong, by instructing him, and holding his/her hand,
if needed, to continue. The ones, who are stronger, will be told that it’s time
to go higher and the leader just needs to show them where to go.

When Moshe Rabeinu went
around, by the footsteps of Har Sinai, counting the Yidden, he did so because
he was instructed to by The Aibeshter (Bamidbar) obviously, the counting had
nothing to do with the Aibeshter’s need to know how many Jews there were.
Without the census The Aibeshter always knows exactly how many Jews there are.
The counting was for our sake. The counting was to teach us that we are
individually valued and cherished.
Simply put, The Aibeshter counted the Yidden because He loved them. It
is analogous to a stamp or coin collector lovingly pouring over his collection
viewing and appreciating every theme, texture, shape, and color. Likewise, The
Aibeshter cherishes every one of His children and continuously counts them
showing His love for the individual Jew and the
collective whole of the nation.

So again, how
can we be judged as one person, when The Aibeshter looks at each of us as
individuals? Though Klal Yisroel, as a whole, is always expected to keep up
with the ever changing times, it needs to be done in such a manner that the
person does not fool his inner being into thinking that it’s now time for a
complete change. Today, many of us see, unfortunately, a judging society,
trying to MOLD people, instead of guiding them. If someone is part of a group,
they are expected to BE that group, live exactly like that group and if they
can’t live up to the majority of the group, it’s time for them to leave
altogether. The same thing is with families, who are, at most, expecting that
their children follow in their precise footsteps, for which they have laid out
for them. In most case, (percentage wise), children do and obviously have,
followed in their parents and grandparents footsteps. But unfortunately, there
have been, and more so today’s days, exceptions to the RULE. Like the tools one
brings with them on the journey to climb Mt Everest, a child especially, needs
to know HOW to use the tools, what they mean to them, and when they are needed
to be used. There MUST BE compassion, understanding, and most importantly,
ACCEPTANCE, for the individual person your child, student, or even friend has
become. “You are first a Jew and that has many levels to it, then you are a
Frum Jew, and we are all aware that there are many many levels to being Frum”.
Again, if someone is lucky, so to speak, to be born into a family where their
parents are Talmidei Chachamim, or lucky enough to be bentched with amazing
families, for them, as individuals, it shouldn’t be expected that it’s always
paved with golden roads. A person makes their surroundings, and the
surroundings can make a person. It’s all how you look at it. The reason one
cannot judge those whose footsteps they have yet to walk in, is simple….they
have never lived or felt their experiences, and struggled through life’s many
encounters. So the only JUDGES, in this world, and during this time, can be the
Aibeshter, and the guidance MUST come from people who are aware of the persons
needs, physical and spiritual, (that’s why it’s so important to have Mashpiam,
to guide them properly, on their own levels, slowly, if it has to be). For
those who were, so to speak, “programmed” into being G-d fearing Jews, and
appreciate what it truly means to be Frum, and understands, completely, WHY we
do the things we do, as Frum people, then you should be delighted, and recognize
the value of what you have, and never take it for granted.

It doesn’t take a
rocket scientist to see what is going in the world today, and how difficult it
has become to “hold on” to the quality of life that so many people need and are
looking for, to instill into their children. We, as educated Principals,
Teachers, Parents and friends, need to be able to see the inner qualities of a
person, not just the outer(though how a person looks on the outside usually
portrays WHO they are on the inside, but not the ones who have a Taiveh for
dressing that way, or for those who were brought up differently) Today more and
more attention is being focused on the things that they see, outside, and so
rules are enforced. As time goes on, and
technology continues to invade our lives, in the positive and in the negative,
we are constantly seeing more and more people fall prey to the ever growing “free
fallers” who find solace in occupying their time with things that are not
exactly considered constructive behavior. But did anyone ever ask themselves
why this is happening in the first place? Why would someone, who has everything
going for them, in regard to how his/her life has been planned out for them,
just all of a sudden fall? There are many people who have the same
opportunities and yet have the common sense to stay away from things that will
harm them and corrupt their lives, and instead make it their business to turn
something that can potentially be hazardous to their “health”, into something
enlightening. Because they, in my own opinion, have been taught with a strong
foundation, and understanding as to WHY we live the way we do. We need not think
about how someone else is serving The Aibeshter, just how we are and our
children are. If you teach from the ground up, with the right techniques, and
the perception as to what makes him/her different that the rest of the world,
you CAN end up with a person who, on their own, will have a beautiful
relationship with Hashem. Someone who is
not learned in every part of Torah, is no less connected with the Aibeshter
than someone who really is not capable of learning.

The Baal Shem Tov
was once shown from heaven that a certain simple man called Moshe the Shepherd
served G‑d, blessed be He, better than he did. He longed to meet this shepherd,
so he ordered his horses harnessed to his coach, and traveled, with a few of
his disciples, to the place where he was told the shepherd lived.

They stopped in a
field at the foot of a hill, and saw, on the hillside above them, a shepherd
who was blowing his horn to call his flock. After the sheep gathered to him, he
led them to a nearby trough to water them. While they were drinking, he looked
up to heaven and began to call out loudly, “Master of the world, you are so
great! You created heaven and earth, and everything else! I’m a simple man; I’m
ignorant and unlearned, and I don’t know how to serve You or praise You. I was
orphaned as a child and raised among gentiles, so I never learned any Torah.
But I can blow on my shepherd’s horn like a shofar, with all my
strength, and call out, ‘The L-rd is G‑d!’” After blowing with all his might on
the horn, he collapsed to the ground, without an ounce of energy, and lay there
motionless until his strength returned.

Then he got up
and said, “Master of the world, I’m just a simple shepherd; I don’t know any
Torah, and I don’t know how to pray. What can I do for You? The only thing I
know is to sing shepherds’ songs!” He then began to sing loudly and fervently
with all his strength until, again, he fell to the earth, exhausted, without an
ounce of energy.

After recovering,
he got up again and began to call out, “Master of the world! What is it worth
that I blew on my horn and sang songs for You, when You’re so great? What more
can I do to serve You?” He paused for a moment and said, “There’s something
else I know how to do, and I’ll do it for Your honor and glory!” He then stood
on his head and began to wave his feet wildly in the air. Then he did
somersaults one after the other, until he collapsed on the ground, exhausted.
The Baal Shem Tov and his disciples watched all this from a distance, in

The shepherd lay
there silently until his strength returned. Again, he began to speak and said,
“Master of the world, I’ve done what I can, but I know it’s not enough! What
more can I do to serve You?” After pausing to reflect, he said, “Yesterday, the
nobleman who owns the flock made a feast for his servants, and when it ended,
he gave each of us a silver coin. I’m giving that coin to You as a gift, O G‑d,
because You created everything and You feed all Your creatures, including me,
Moshe the little shepherd!” Saying this, he threw the coin upward.

At that moment,
the Baal Shem Tov saw a hand reach out from heaven to receive the coin. He said
to his disciples, “This shepherd has taught me how to fulfill the verse: ‘You
shall love the L‑rd your G‑d with all your heart, with all your soul and with
all your might.’

In the words
of a great scholar, The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Reb Menachem Mendel Schneerson ZT”L,[T]he
attitude of Lubavitch is quite the opposite [of
not accepting a fellow Jew] and one of the basic Principles of Lubavitch is the
emphasis on Ahavas Yisroel [loving your fellow Jew], which, as the Old Rabbi [Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, first Chabad
Rebbe] declared, is a “vessel” for Ahavas Hashem [the love of G‑d], and that “love your fellow Jew as yourself”
means literally, as yourself… This attitude of Lubavitch extends to all
Jews without distinction…You surely know that generally speaking, there is no
perfection in this world. Therefore, everything as well as every individual has
room for improvement, as our sages expressed it “all things of holiness should
be on the upgrade.” There are no exceptions from this rule, for even the
greatest Tzaddik [righteous individual]
must not be content with his present status but must seek to advance further
and higher. The Rebbe continues by explaining that thinking about the ways in
which one needs to grow should not be discouraging. We need to know that G‑d
gives every single person the ability to fulfill all that is required of that
person: At the same time, every commandment of the Torah is also a delegation of power and [the] ability to fulfill it,
even for the individual who has not yet attained the rank of Tzaddik. For
the Torah does not expect of an individual more
than he can accomplish and that which he is commanded to do, he can surely
accomplish. It is important to bear in mind the above, because it is one of the
tried strategies of the Yetzer [person’s inclination] to attempt to discourage
the Jew from fulfilling his obligations by suggesting that it is impossible to
fulfill all the Torah and Mitzvoth
[commandments], or that it is a waste of effort and so on. The Rebbe wrote, “It
is not my purpose just to preach. However, when I am asked for help or advice,
I must state the facts clearly.”The Rebbe explained that fulfilling G‑d’s
commandments is not about doing something for the benefit of G‑d; rather
fulfilling the commandments is actually for one’s own benefit: For these laws,
as all the other laws of the Torah, were given not for the benefit of the Creator, but for the
benefit of the observer, and for his good health, both physically and
spiritually. They are meant for the good and happy life of man, not only in
after life, but simply also in this life. The Baal Shem
Tov, “G‑d desires the heart. Any mitzvah a
person may do, whether great or small, simple or difficult, is judged by how it
is performed. A mitzvah done for G‑d’s sake, with great joy and purity of
heart, is very precious to the Creator. G‑d cries out to the angels, ‘Look at
the mitzvah my son/daughter has done!

I would like to end off by making it my business to beg people to work on
themselves instead of looking at what other people are doing, unless they are a
part of your lives. If your work on the inner part of a person, it will show on
the outside. There are too many people that look at someone who dresses
immodestly, and says to themselves, or worse, says to their friends, “look how
he/she dresses, I wouldn’t go next to him/her with a 10 foot pole, what a
nebach he/she has become”. That is worse than how the other person is dresses,
because not only are you speaking Lashon Harah, you are judging them. We, as
educated Principals, Teachers, Parents and friends, need to be able to see the
inner qualities of a person, not just the outer(though how a person looks on
the outside usually portrays WHO they are on the inside, but not the ones who
have a Taiveh for dressing that way, or for those who were brought up
differently) Today more and more attention is being focused on the things that
they see, outside, and so rules are enforced If your intentions are to
help them, then do something about it, you may find out what is really going
on, and that’s only if you know that this person has “gone off”. But what if
that person is climbing up the ladder? Klal Yisroel is not being destroyed
because of the ever changing times; it’s being destroyed because there is no
foundation, and a huge lack of Love for a fellow JEW!

we all be Zoche to see the coming of
Moshiach, speedily in OUR days, and may The Aibeshter see His people coming
together as one nation, understanding and compassionate, because, everything
the The Aibeshter does is for a reason. We cannot question it, but we can
accept it and OUR own missions to change ourselves. May the Aibeshter have
Nachas from His children, and Rochmunis on His Nation, who are in need of a
Refuah from this Golus, that has lasted way too long.

    The comments section of an article is not space to try to publish your own article.

    Chana Glik, this is a terrible story: you are climbing a mountain when you should be learning Torah and leading a Kosher Jewish home? Disgraceful: clearly you’re bent on leading our children off the true derekh. Go spread your treyfene ideas somewhere else; it has no place on the temime Tablet website…!

CarbonaNotGlue says:

That girl will end up marrying a Black lesbian .. hope the father is around to see it.

i fucked a lovely non-jewish guy with blue eyes for a year in 1937. 3 years later he murdered everyone in my village who was a jew. sieg fucking heil ……………

Evan Loiterman says:

Personally, I think it would have been best for the girl’s parents to take this on a s a kiruv opportunity, while telling their daughter that they would prefer she would keep with certain protocols, but keep contact with the boy if she liked(no sneaking around and no touching)him. They should ask the girl if she wants to have a real relationship with the boy and open their house to the boy and invite him for shabbos. Teach him things about Judaism and see what happens. I think the forbidding approach -and the idea it would damage prospects for the sister is really a bad perspective. If nothing else this will create tension between sisters and also leave the sister feeling intimidated if not put upon -to “uphold the family honor” to make up for what her ‘slutty’ sis hath wrought. Making one kid the ‘good’ one and one the ‘bad’ one is very bad parenting. I don’t think the religious community is prepared to deal with stuff like this with any degree of balanced thinking or maturity. Instead we have over obsessions with tznius and the evil internet. It’s no wonder why something like this that should be dealt with calmly creates upheaval in a family. In my experience I was already 30 ‘dating’ a 24 year old monsey girl. I whent to public school stayed on the fringes of the community because I didn’t feel like I fit in, so when the family decided to ‘investigate’ me -it was a hatchet job since they had no reliable information -and since the way we met or dated was NOT so conventional, I think some things were added to sabotage things a bit -they didn’t seem to mind what they were doing could ruin my life. 11 years later we are married with two great kids in dayschool, I have a good job and it worked out -IN SPITE of the frummy sickness.

No! No! tell me you became frum and married the girl!

such a tragedy whenever anyone goes otd

not a call to judgment but a cry of sorrow

find the way back, with love

C, Not frum. Not married.

I think Alexander Portnoy said it best: “And instead of crying over he who has turned his back on the saga of his people, weep for your own pathetic selves, why don’t you, sucking and sucking on that sour grape of a religion! Jew! Jew! Jew! It is coming out of my ears already, the saga of the suffering Jews! Do me a favor, my people, and stick your suffering heritage up your suffering ass–I happen to also be a human being!


Liked the story very much, as well as your response to “c”. I’m sick to death of frum insistence that theirs is the only way to encounter the world. They aren’t trying to convince you as much as they’re trying to convince themselves.

A sweet story of youthful awakening.

This was the most simple but loveliest story telling I’ve seen in Tablet yet. Maybe in my last few months of online reading. In it’s own way very deep and thoughtful. Not sure why I love this story. Maybe because the author never “reaches” to be funny or smart. Just shares a tale of life how it happens, which is often mysterious and both happy and sad.

Great write – and just as important – editing to not cut or push too much. Terrific.

Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts, Cipher and Jonathan Field. Much appreciated.

Leah Rochelle Ilutowicz says:

What a great article! I agree that the ending needs revision.
All the Best.

Moshe says:

Leah, thanks for reading. I’m glad you liked it except for the ending, apparently. Revision? How So?

Sad. How judgement can turn someone away …

Jackie says:

Enjoyed the whole thing, smiling the whole time until the end. What an abrupt sad ending. :( But I am glad the author stuck to the truth of it.

Thanks for reading Gab and Jackie. I’m glad you enjoyed the piece.

Michael says:

So, the moral of the story is:
Stay in yeshiva and get the blonde.

Thank you very much


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My Forbidden Orthodox Love

I fell for the girl in the FBI T-shirt the first time I saw her. But she was religious, and I wasn’t.