Meet the Youth Struggling with their Religious or Chassidic Upbringing Forum Leader
Rabbi Naftali Portnoy
Rabbi Naftali Portnoy is Co- Director of the Jewish Heritage Center of Queens and Long Island, a highly regarded Kiruv organization which has dramatically impacted the lives of more than 20,000 Jews. Rabbi Portnoy has a deep grasp of p’sak...
We thank Hashem everyday that this is our only problem. He is number five out of ten KA”H and our oldest son. B”H His older four sisters are married. He is next in line and we are having trouble with Shidduchim because he is really Chassidish but he just cannot stay put in Yeshiva (he often does not get there for first Seder anyway) . He is the first to offer his help anywhere. Goes to camp a week early to set up. Is busy before Yomim Tovim around the clock. Gets home very late every night and cannot get up in the morning. When we talk to him it helps for a day or two. He is very quiet at home. When we talk about electric or other construction he perks up. He lately has brought home books about different money making topics. He is nervous about how he will make a living and wants to go get a GD. When he is home and is asked to help he does so willingly. As much as we try to get him to talk to us he only says a few words. He does talk to one or two of our sons in law more. He does things on his own without telling us. He got his own flip phone and for a while we did not even know he had it. My wife would love to see him go to a dorm Yeshiva so he would be away from all the hobbies he finds fulfilling and would settle down and learn more. He does not have anyone close enough to him to seek Hadracha. He says he speaks to a Ruv but will not disclose a name.
It is very difficult to watch our children take a different path; and yet it seems to me that your son is not cut out for the standard route. Unfortunately, the mainstream path is somewhat narrow and some square pegs just don’t fit into those round holes.
In addition, if he’s old enough to get married, he’s an adult who can make decisions for himself. Treat him respectfully. Instead of trying to get him back on the standard track, which he doesn’t seem to be cut out for, you’d be better off trying to do what you can do to help keep his own path in line with frumkait.
So he wants to work? Help him get a job in a frum, kosher environment. May be get him an apprenticeship with a chasidish person who works in the fields he’s interested in.
He wants to get GED? Help him get it. Get him books from the library, notebooks and calculator. Offer to find a tutor or set up access to on-line courses at home. (I say finding a chasidish
At the same time, help him schedule a steady learning seder. With a Rebbi he feels a kesher with, or with your husband (or that brother in-law that he likes).
Show him that his goals are achievable within the framework of chasidus, in a “kosher” way.
With time, he might even open up to you. It’s possible that he doesn’t want to talk to you because he feels you don’t understand him and will criticize him.