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Author Topic: Declining Religiosity
thinkingBY-
girl

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Post Declining Religiosity
on: February 20, 2013, 10:59 AM

Do you think it's true, and why, that as they get further and further away from high school and seminary, singles' Yiddishkeit observance starts to relax?

Princess-
Lea

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Post Re: Declining Religiosity
on: February 20, 2013, 11:21 AM

I think that is the wrong way of looking at it.

When youngsters are in high school and seminary, they are pretty much being told what is religion and what isn't. They are impressionable, and rely heavily on those teachers, and accept their words as such.

But then they go out on their own, meet other people, other religious Jews, and they come to realize that matters aren't as black and white as they were taught to believe. So their relationship with religion and Hashem morphs from the cookie-cutter version to their own individual take.

I do not see this to be more prevalent amongst singles as it is amongst marrieds. Plenty of couples I know start off one way and in a few short years, look completely different, not necessarily because one spouse was more of an influence on the other, but because now these two are on their own and can make their own choices.

In all cases, it comes down to bechira, in doing what makes sense for you, what appeals to you, instead of what is foisted upon you by others.

What do you mean by "declining observance"? That you know for sure they don't have a relationship with Hashem, or that they don't keep everything properly, or that they just changed their outward style?

Every person is different, and their progress (and decline) differs. They are no set rules.

feigy123

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Post Re: Declining Religiosity
on: February 20, 2013, 11:49 AM

And do you think this is the reason for the shidduch crisis (that the boys are further out)

thinkingBY-
girl

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Post Re: Declining Religiosity
on: February 20, 2013, 2:05 PM

@PrincessLea: "Declining religiosity" and "relaxed observance." Semantics perhaps, but how I see it, religiosity tends to refer to dedication and devoutness to a religion, which a decline of results in relaxed observance of the practical aspects of the religion. Also, I didn't mean necessarily "no relationship with G-d," nor such that this decline is exhibited via outward appearance. It could be manifest in both, neither, or reflected in an altogether different manner. Because you're right, we have no way of knowing what someone's relationship with Hashem is like. Perhaps s/he found a more authentic way to connect to Him that outwardly looks to people (who shouldn't be judging) like a decrease in yiraas shamyim.

That said, I do think that there is a negative aspect to this decline. It's so easy to spiritually decline when you are not rooted. As an eighteen/twenty-year-old most people are straight off the boat of the influence of formal education. When someone is in a structured Torah environment she is within said sphere of influence. Once she leaves that, it is up to her own strengths and discretion to fight the influences of secular society. Also, many people are pretty sheltered their whole life until they go to (secular) college or take a job outside the frum realm.

Single or married makes that much of a difference in as much as one's spouse is rooted (mostly it's the guy learning for whatever his schedule allows, but even a small amount a day could have a profound impact on a relationship and marriage). If they are not rooted even as a married couple, then I would agree that their marital status doesn't make that much of a difference. Also, I would imagine that it's easier to be focused on the "right things" when you're trying to build the most important relationship of your life, and ensuring that your family have the proper hashkafos. As a single, you have less responsibility and it's easy to convince yourself that what you do doesn't have that much of impact, especially on other people outside yourself.

I think also that the older the single gets, there is this sense of feeling "left out" or frustrated with the system and she might take it out on her Judaism. It is a lot easier to continue to be idealistic and keep all the mitzvos, chumros, etc. how you were taught them when there isn't this sense of pain (however it manifests...could be anger, could be nonchalance, or whatever). It's a nisayon, and just like other nisyonos that make people slip, many singles don't pass this with flying colors.

Sari

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Post Re: Declining Religiosity
on: February 20, 2013, 10:49 PM

I don't think it's true I know it's true. How can you expect to stay on the same level you were without all of the classes/shiurim/friends/teachers. Even if there is no outward change there is still going to be a drop in the inner feeling towards Yidishkeit. As the saying goes we are like a ball on a hill we are either going up or down. I'm curious if anyone has any thoughts or ideas how to keep the sem high.

basyisroel

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Post Re: Declining Religiosity
on: February 20, 2013, 11:27 PM

Learn on a regular basis, even if only once a week. whether that means going to a shiur, getting together with friends and learning something interesting, learning with a friend over the phone for 5 minutes a week, joining Partners in Torah, or learning something by yourself...Just make sure to learn something that interests you so you don't find it burdensome! That minute or two of learning can really put you in the right frame of mind and remind you that you're here to serve Hashem! And it can be really enjoyable if you're learning something that you find interesting!

gold

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Post Re: Declining Religiosity
on: February 20, 2013, 11:50 PM

Listen to shiurim on torah anytime (especially Rabbi Wallerstein). There are tons of amazing shiurim there.

InShidduch-
imFollower

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Post Re: Declining Religiosity
on: February 21, 2013, 12:50 AM

there are plenty of classes and shiurim during the week, anywhere in the tri-state area.

inshidduch-
im613

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Post Re: Declining Religiosity
on: February 21, 2013, 11:42 AM

Well not out of town lol 🙂
but learning with friends is great! and also just having a good group of friends who all have similar hashkafos to you and and are focused on staying strong is a HUGE deal! keeping in touch with seminary teachers and friends really helps you keep the "sem high" going....
and regularly reminding yourself of what you really want to be like and making sure that every decision you make fits in line with your goal is extremely impt!

InShidduch-
imFollower

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Post Re: Declining Religiosity
on: February 21, 2013, 1:14 PM

this is true,
im out of town as well, and organized a shiur to be given to a group of girls here...its possible! 🙂
i think it is so important to actually GO to a shiur...its a whole different ball game. i listen to shiurim in my car all the time, but its nothing like the nights that i go out to one

Princess-
Lea

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Post Re: Declining Religiosity
on: February 21, 2013, 2:02 PM

thinkingby-girl: If someone's religion is based primarily on her surroundings, then what is it worth? The focus of Yiddishkeit is bechira, and if the main reason for one's lifestyle is because "I have to go to this class today," that is not ideal.

Being sheltered is necessary when one is growing up. But at some point we have to leave the nest, and make our own choices, and choosing what to believe, and how to practice it. We can't have someone grading us and looking over our shoulders our whole life; we shouldn't. When we go up there after 120, our choices is what is under scrutiny, not what we were told to choose.

In my case, for example, I choose to attend shiurim by speakers that I like, as opposed to classes I was required to take when in BY. I have a close relationship with my family, which I believe should be the ones that ground you in the first place, not your high school teachers.

As for "angry" older singles, I don't see why they should fall into a separate category when there are plenty of others who have disappointment in their lives, including married people. There are as many hardships out there as well as joys; a wedding is not simply "happily ever after," but a new stage that has its own challenges. I was flipping through an old Ami magazine about husbands who became less religious or went off the derech completely after marriage, and how their wives struggle with it.

Everyone's relationship with Yiddishkeit is their own, and cannot be quantified by anyone else. I am religious not because I have to, but because I want to. Being out of BY showed me that.

thinkingBY-
girl

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Post Re: Declining Religiosity
on: February 21, 2013, 2:56 PM

I agree that it's not ideal for someone's observance to be solely based on what the people around them do/preach. Yet, there is this concept of always putting yourself in a position where the people surrounding you are one up from you religious-wise. I've heard it been referred to as the "ma yomru" phenomenon. When there is a pressure of what will people think and what will people say, it helps to prevent sliding backward down the ruchniyus incline. Obviously your Torah observance should not be based on what other people (will) think of you, but we're only human and this helps keeps us in line. It's so easy to lose sight of what's important when we're surrounded by people that have very different values. Take Yosef HaTzaddik for an example. He found himself in Mitzrayim surrounded by the most despicable and immoral things on earth, and how did he stay strong? Yosef kept an image of his father Yaakov Avinu in his mind's eye. So yes, sometimes it is about "looking over your shoulder" and "someone grading you." However, it's hardly about the grade the other person is giving you; it's more about how it can help you make a better choice for yourself, for your relationship with Hashem and Torah. And that is why it is valuable to live within a society that keeps you grounded. Yes, it is about your choices (and your choices alone), but why can't they be influenced by people who are rooted (ie. those who learn Torah a good percentage of the day)? It's not about what you are told to choose, rather how you surround yourself with people who have the clarity that we lack because we are not steeped in Torah (that's not our tafkid), and how we make this a part of who we are.

To respond to your point about why this doesn't have to be about "older singles," but anyone who has faced hardship, you're definitely right. Like I said, it is a lot easier to continue to stay strong in your Yiddishkeit when there isn't an acute sense of pain. It's a nisayon, and just like other nisyonos that make people slip, many singles slip. It isn't only about singles; it could refer to anyone facing a large nisayon. However, this particular nisayon relates directly to relaxing Yiddishkeit standards. I mentioned this before, but to clarify -- Judiasm is largely about family life, so when someone lacks this, it's easy for them to feel left out and discouraged that their Yiddiskeit is worth less. You don't have a responsibility to a husband and family. You're not shaping young lives, not trying to build a bayis fit for the shechinah...That said, I heard an interesting perspective on this from Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein. He asks why is it so hard for singles to stay strong in their relationship with Hashem, and he answers that in order to have a true loving relationship with G-d, you need first to have a relationship with yourself, and then with a spouse. This relationship with your spouse helps you recognize what kind of relationship we're supposed to have with Hashem. It needs to be one of intense love. If it's all about fear, it slackens with time because the fear dulls. Singles, who day after day come home to an empty apartment (or the like), begin to feel a disconnect. It's hard for them to relate to G-d, to love Him, to realize that Judaism is not merely a set of restrictions...

Bracha613

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Post Re: Declining Religiosity
on: February 21, 2013, 3:02 PM

Thinkingbygirl you keep on amazing me.

thinkingBY-
girl

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Post Re: Declining Religiosity
on: February 21, 2013, 3:54 PM

Quote from Bracha613 on February 21, 2013, 3:02 PM
Thinkingbygirl you keep on amazing me.

?

Bracha613

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Post Re: Declining Religiosity
on: February 21, 2013, 4:43 PM

You just keep hitting it on the head. Just out of curiosity are you a teacher?

LuvAhuva

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Post Re: Declining Religiosity
on: February 21, 2013, 8:17 PM

right after i came fome from sem i got a job in the city. i was working for frum people but it was a one girl office with no one watching me or seeing me on a regular basis. i defintily felt myself slip! in tznius and just in general the depth of my connection to hashem was slowly rising and i felt myself losing all the sensitivities that i aquired in high school and in seminary . i hated the job and bh i came to my senses and quit. a few monoths later i found an amazing job in a frum envirement with tonz of other special people who just bring out the positive in me and bh today i feel that in some ways i am in an even better spiritual place than i was in eretz yisroel. unfortunatley some of my friends from sem have not been as lucky. they dont live in the same town as me but i see them from time to time and sadly, i see drastic chnges in them to the opposite effect. i am still super close with them and i dont judge beacause i know its really hard. but i learned first hand how impt it is for singles to be in a spiritualy and emotionally positive envirement. when you feel alone and detached its so easy to fall even for the strongest person..

heyhey

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Post Re: Declining Religiosity
on: February 21, 2013, 9:54 PM

Yes!! I def. think it's true!! I have 3 good friends who are pretty Yeshivish shtark girls and when it was the night of the super-bowl they told me they were going to have a super-bowl party. Each one was making a different dinner dish. They went to a friends sisters house to watch the game. TRUST ME... if they were married they would not have been doing this with their husbands.

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Lea

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Post Re: Declining Religiosity
on: February 22, 2013, 1:27 PM

heyhey - As I recall, it is mostly the men who watch the Super Bowl. Chances are they would have been making Super Bowl parties for their husbands' friends as well.

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