New York – OpEd: Our OTD Children Need Our Love And Understanding, Not Our Retribution


    New York –  The Nesivos Shalom teaches that in Mitzrayim, Hashem purposefully waited through our generations of slavery for us to finally arrive at our lowest possible spiritual and physical condition before referring to us as, “My firstborn son.”  Why?  He waited in order to prove to us for all time that He does not love us based on our behavior or our status; rather so we would know that we are inherently His beloved children. Therefore, His love for us is unconditional and indestructible, regardless of our debasement or situation. 

    Your son, whom you so proudly carried to his bris, is always your son.

    Your daughter, light of your life from the moment you first held her, is always your daughter.

    A parent’s love for his or her child must be unqualified, as God’s is for His people.  And yet… too often we are so brutally quick to judge our own children; and too often through the eyes of others, not even our own!

    Imagine for a moment, cherubim.  Imagine them with child-like countenances.  Where might you find such airy, holy creatures?  In the holiest city in the world!  In Jerusalem herself.  And not just in the holiest city but in the holiest place in the holiest of cities, upon the Temple Mount, the kodesh kodashim, the Holy of Holies.  The very ground there vibrates with the awesomeness of its holiness.  For it is at this spot that God, the Master of the Universe, speaks to Moshe from above the Aron.  His voice emanates from between the two cherubim, from between the countenances of babes.   Not from between the countenance of two elders, or sages or tzadikim.  But two babes.  Why?  To teach us that to hear and receive God’s awesome messages we must maintain a pure, child-like innocence and enthusiasm, one free of preconceived notions and prejudices.  We must embrace a child’s delight in learning and experience.

    But do we?  Sadly, no.  The years make us jaded.  “What is it that I can learn?  I have experienced life!”  We know the “slings and arrows” of our years, and they have wounded us, made us cautious, skeptical and hurtful.  But such an attitude is anathema to all that is spiritual and pure.  Doesn’t Hosea teach us that God loves klal Yisrael simply because we are loveable like a young child?  “For Israel is a young lad and I love him.” [Hosea 11:1]

    How hard it is for us – as the years turn our supple minds and bodies brittle – to maintain that innocence and delight!  The challenge is even greater for those who are parents, for they experience the most searing of challenges and hurts from the very ones dearest to them – their children.  Flesh of our flesh, blood of our blood!  How they can turn us inside out!  Our very own children who “have turned their backs on us and all that is sacred and precious to us.”

    We see it too often.  We hear of it constantly.  We shed such tears as we witness it or experience it!  We cry and suffer with our friends.  Relationships between husband and wife suffer.  Families ache.  Why?  Because children “fall away.”  They become lost children.  Such good children!  From such good frum, heimishe, yeshivishe, chasidishe, chardei homes.  How did they become “at risk”?  How did they become OTD (off the derech)?  How did these children, raised in such loving, observant homes, come to turn their backs on a Torah-centered life?

    We will return to the how, but for now we must examine how we react when our children become angry, rebellious, and critical.  How do we respond when our children “throw off” the garb of our community and wear torn jeans, or clothing that is not anything but true to tzniut?  Or they pierce their ears or noses!  We yell.  We demand.  We punish.  We even banish, removing the “culprit” from our homes – from their homes – and, in the process, create a cycle of ever greater rejection, greater distance, greater anger.

    So many good, decent, observant parents emotionally torn to shreds as their dear children become strangers before their very eyes!  They banish these “strangers” for a thousand understandable reasons – because their own hearts ache, to protect their other children, because they worry what others might think…  And why wouldn’t they?  How can observant parents come to terms with a child of their own rejecting Torah, Shabbos, kashrut and all that is good and sacred.

    They ask themselves, they ask God, “Didn’t we give our child the best of everything spiritually, financially, socially? How can you do this to us?”  Their answer is deep silence.

    What can the answer be when such a situation continues to spiral from bad to worse?  The child rebels.  The parent punishes, driving the child to greater rebellion which leads to greater punishment which inevitably leads to…

    Is there another, better way?


    The Talmud in Yoma [54a] quotes Rav Katina depicting the scene when the Jews came to Jerusalem for the three regalim, “… the Kohanim would pull back the curtain in the Temple and show them the Cherubim hugging and embracing one another [one had masculine features, the other, feminine].  The priests would then say, ‘See how beloved you are before the Almighty, like the love of the male and female.’”

    But when Churban and destruction of the Temple came, Reish Lakish continues in the Talmud Yoma [54b] and the enemies invaded and entered the Holy of Holies, behold, they saw the cherubim embracing like man and wife, and they brought out the cherubim out to the street and mocked the Jews, debasing them and ridiculing them for their perceived impropriety.

    The question arises, How could it be that the cherubim remain so obviously loving in the midst of such unspeakable destruction and tragedy?  Were we not taught that “when Yisroel did the will of God, the cherubim faced one another, but when they didn’t the cherubim faced the wall.”

    Talmud Yoma [54b] speaks of Churban and yet the cherubim faced one another.  How could this be?  The answer is that God loves His children even in the midst of Churban, even in the midst of unbearable destruction.   The Nesivos Shalom explains that the very thing our oppressors perceived as unseemly is actually the ultimate demonstration of God’s love for the Jewish people.  God wanted to show that He loves, cherishes and cares for His children, the Jewish people, forever.  This is true even when they are at their lowest.  And it is this knowledge, that God will never forsake us, that gives us the strength to endure all the trials and tribulations of what felt to be an endless exile.

    God has unconditional love for His kinderlach.

    So too, the Zohar relates that when the Jewish people were exiled from their land, God said to the entire Heavenly host, “What are you doing here? My children are going into exile and you are remaining in the Heavens?  All of you, get up and descend to Bavel, and I will descend with you.”  Chazal declare, Wherever Yisroel is exiled, the Shechina goes with them.  God does not abandon His children to go into exile unaccompanied.  God goes with us.

    In our pain and darkness, God is with us.  He needs to be with us until that day when He will accompany us to our return.  But, until that day when we are fully ready to be redeemed, He remains with us, painful as that may be for Him to endure.  And of course it is painful.  We are, after all, His children.  No matter how lost we are, He will not turn away from us.

    The Navi says: Shuvu banim shovavim –“Return you wayward children.”   He does not say, “Return you wayward ones.  But wayward children.  God is saying to us, “You are always MY children.  No matter how wayward, no matter how low you sink.  You are mine.”

    It is here that we fully understand the meaning of the loving embrace of the cherubim that so befuddled our enemies.  Even they know that no matter what, God loves us, His people, forever.

    The Talmud cites the verse that speaks of God as the One, “Who dwells among them even in their impurity.”  Rav Tzadok of Lublin explains that we are still called “the portion of Hashem” even if we are mired in shmutz and defilement.  Every Jew is, by nature, always and forever connected to Hashem.  This is the Divine Presence that never leaves his innermost self.

    Is there another, better way for the parent who feels betrayed, hurt and frustrated by the behavior of his or her OTD child?  Yes!  And that way is the one that God has shown us.  It is love and acceptance.  Even as a child descends to the most shameful muck, you must love him, just as God loves us, no matter how far we fall.

    God shows absolute and unconditional love and acceptance, even in the midst of our greatest defilement, a defilement that led to Churban and destruction.  Didn’t God descend to the lowest level of muck, the 49th level, to salvage us from Mitzrayim?  Where would we be now if God had simply abandoned us because He didn’t want to be seen in such muck?

    If God can do it, shouldn’t we?  Has any OTD child done worse than our forefathers?  Has their shumtz surpassed the impurity of past generations?  If God accompanied His children in the depths of their despair during the generations of galus shouldn’t we walk that extra mile for the sake of our children?

    But how?  How to take that first step?

    The first step is so simple… and so hard.  It requires us to ask, Why?  Why has our child fallen?  The reason the question is so hard is that we have to be fully prepared to hear the answer.  And there is an answer to the question.  Do not think for a moment that one day a child wakes up and thinks, “Shabbos is no longer beautiful!”  Your wonderful child does not simple conclude, “Hey, treif is better than kosher!”

    Something happened to push him or her off the derech.

    And do not be satisfied with mumbled generalities or shrugs of the shoulder.  There is a reason… find it!  It requires a trauma to transform a good, caring child filled with yiddishkeit into a stranger wandering the streets.

    This transformation was not a choice!  It was thrust upon the child.  When your child rebels in this way, it is because their neshama is in pain.  What might the trauma be?  Too often, it is a betrayal or abuse on the part of a trusted and respected adult.

    Impossible, you think?  If you believe it is so impossible, that such abuse could never happen “in my community” seek out the wisdom of Rabbi Moshe Bak (Innocent Heart at 888 506 7162) or Mrs. Ruchama Clapman (Mask at Clapman 718 758 0400 ) or reach out to Avi Fishoff ( and learn not only that such abuse is possible but, in many cases, probable.  And learn from them that there is a way to get your child back.

    Your child has not turned away from you and Torah “just because.”  There is a reason for his or her pain.  Find out what it is so that healing can begin.  Do not push your child away.  That serves only to deepen his or her pain.

    Our OTD children need our love and understanding, not our retribution.

    Think!  If your child suffered, God forbid, from cancer, would you allow your own shame or frustration to keep you from doing everything in your power to help your child?  Of course not.  Do not allow shame or frustration to keep you from helping your OTD child!

    The road back is paved with love, understanding, hugs and honest communication.  The Krule Rebbe explains, “If someone slips on an icy road and breaks a leg, he needs months of physical therapy until he can walk again… Why is this boy different?  He has been broken, shattered.  It will take months and months, often even longer, until he can walk on his own two feet again.”

    We cannot go on sad but accepting as we lose our smartest, sweetest children, children from beautiful homes filled with warmth and yiddishkeit.  It is too easy to simply “blame” the OTD child.  Not only is it too easy, it is wrong!

    We need to have the courage to ask why and confront the ugly truth of the answer.  No doubt it is shocking, painful, frightening.  It is a shreck.  But until we do this, until we diagnose the problem, there can be no healing.  Our experts tell us in no uncertain terms that fully 80% of all OTD children have experienced some form of abuse. If there should be a focus of our hurt, anger and retribution, it is the reality of this statistic.  The shonda is that such a thing happens in our community, not that the children affected by it react with their own anger, pain and shame.  And rebellion.

    Let us reject our own shame and face this terrible reality, for our sakes and the sakes of our children.  Only then, can we accompany our dear children back to where they belong, with us in our homes, living a Torah life.

    Have no doubt, when you determine that you will face the truth with your child, they will know it. 

    As Chani Juravel wrote in Binah magazine, describing such a parent who finally “saw the world through her child’s eyes” …sometime later, she found herself straightening and gently knocking on the door while mouthing Tuly’s name. And then, for the first time in what felt many years, she sat on her son’s bed and reached for his hand.  Still sleepy and dazed, he let her take it.  Malky licked her lips and began speaking softly.

    ‘Tuly, I want to ask your forgiveness.’ 

    Her son looked confounded.

    ‘I realize that for the past few years, I’ve focused most on how much I’ve been hurting. I’ve been so angry at you. Tuly, I was focused on how your behavior destroyed our image, how much pain we have suffered.  So I’m sorry, Tuly.  I’m sorry that with all that being my focus, I wasn’t focused on what I should have been thinking and feeling most.  I should have been thinking about the pain your neshamah is in, at how hard this must be for you. I shouldn’t have made it all about me.’

    That afternoon was a turning point for Malky. And it was a turning point for Tuly, too.  It was the first day in three years that he put on tefillin.’

    As God’s presence comforted the Children of Israel throughout the darkness of our exile, so too will your presence comfort your child.

    What to do if your child “rebels”?  What to do if your child becomes an OTD child?  Love him.  Comfort her.  And if that does not seem to work?  Love him more.  Comfort her more.  Find out what happened.

    Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran  is an educator, author and lecturer. . His most recent book is “Mediations at Sixty: One Person, Under God, Indivisible,”. His “Sometime You Are What You Wear” has been hailed as one of the finest contemporary presentations on modesty.

    He can be reached at

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    1. Easier said than done. My oldest OTD is a drug user and is trying to influance his younger siblings. Love him? Keep him in the house? When he brings home McDonalds and puts the bag and food wrapping in my kosher sink, I don’t feel any love- just hate and rage.
      I don’t want him back.(sadly)

        • I personally do not agree with number 1. However, if you have not walked in his shoes how can you, and some others, so heartily condemn him. I would hope that number 1 can have peace in his house, and possibly have a relationship with his son, but to condemn him so easily?

        • Unless you’ve been ther ,don’t judge #1.You have no idea of what kind of unending turmoil and these kids can cause. They may have emotional problems as well and delight in creating familial havoc.

          • None of which explains or excuses hating your own child.

            A ‘parent’ who has rage and hate in his/her heart for their own child for going OTD probably raised the child on rage and hate.

            Most OTD children that I know did not fall off the derech. They were pushed.

          SHAME ON YOU

          • There are many legitimate emotions when hurt by your child’s action. Sadness, pain, shock, feelings of rejections and although not productive, even anger at his or her actions would be understandable.

            Hating your own OTD child has nothing to do with you being upset that they have lost or been willing to give up their connection to the RBS”O. It is all about YOU.

      • Hate and rage because your child doesn’t agree with your religious philosophy? Bet that hate and rage has been directed at your child for most of his life.

      • Reply to #1
        Dear Gary,
        I don’t know you, but hear your pain. It is easy for others to judge when they don’t have to face your situation everyday. What I take from the article is that if you need to have him out of the house to protect yourself and others from harm it is fine, but don’t do it in an angry way. Try to find a place for him to stay and support him with that. Your goal should be to slowly help him improve his life, not to fix him. Stay strong.

      • Sounds like he doesn’t respect you very much.

        Perhaps because you think a bag that once held treif food can make a sink treif on contact.

        If a person’s actions and words don’t command respect he or she is foolish to demand it.

    2. Hashem’s unconditional love of the Jewish People did not stop him from destroying 2 batei mikdash, exiling our people and putting them through 2 thousand years of suffering.

    3. Beautiful and very necessary article!

      We put so much into our children and want them to retain the kedushah we’ve imbued them with so badly, that the rejection of said kedushah causes us to act out of pain and anger.

      We have to put our kids happiness before their frumkeit and then they’ll have both…

      If we put their frumkeit before happiness, chances are they’ll r”l have neither..

    4. From what I understand, parents send their OTD children away only in a situation where they exhibit, for example, self destructive behavior that the parents feel they are enabling by giving them a place to stay. In that case, would the author consider it ‘not loving’ of the parents to take that step?
      It seems from the article that loving means let them stay home, and not-loving means send them out. Is this what the author meant?

      • There is a difference between kicking them out with only a backpack to call their own and maintaining some sort of connection with them. Create firm boundaries to allow them to stay. No trief in the home, no teaching this to siblings, no drugs. But keep the love there. Never turn your back even if they turned theirs. Don’t push them to go to shul, accept them for who they are now.
        And speak to a therapist who can help you come to an understanding of how to not enable but still be there for them.

    5. Excellent piece.
      2 points.
      First, there are many “on the derech” kids that are not shown any love or warmth. They are just cruising without meaning or anyone blinking an eye at them. They are hurting inside as well. As one involved in chinuch it shocks me when I see an adult mock a yeshiva bochur because they are not working or in college. Yet, that very same guy is an askan and involved in kiruv! (BTW, if you are in kiruv – smile at FFB’s as well once in a while) It is not our job to decide the future of others and what is good for them or not. We need to be encouraging.
      Second, there are many adults that are also disillusioned and turned off but can’t do anything about it. Next time you go to shul, say hello to the fellow that you have seen for 10 years without saying a word to him and you will see that you can make a yid’s week.

      • Very well said and I’ll add make sure you smile and cat warm to your FFB not OTD frum nerdy guy. Maybe the guy does’nt dress as well or is not as cool. Some of them espeically misfits (frum guys who just don’t fit into the norm society) need plenty of kiruv and warmth too.
        I know they are nerds and your OTD guy is cool and fun to be mekarav. But the need is just as much there.

    6. Parents need to think long and hard at their feelings. Why this need to have their children look, act, frum ? Why they hate when they aren’t looking the part? What different does it make to them if their kid is or isn’t frum ? It doesn’t stop them from growing spiritually themselves.

      Oh BTW, Avraham Avinu loved Yishmael, and Naami loved Ruth and Orpah, even though they were shiksas who their children married. Perhaps that is why Yishmael did teshuva, and Ruth became one of the greatest women of Jewish history.

      • Avraham loved Yishmael, but still gave his mother the walking stick, as Hashem said the Sarah is right and has no place next to a good child like Yitzchak. The Torah also commanded us to kill a Ben Sorer Imoreh.

        “Nami loved Ruth and Orpah”, Nomi and Orpah did nothing wrong, her children did.

        Everything can be proven one way or another, the Torah is deep and contains all different solutions for each situation.

        The problem is that we are so busy giving attention to the OTD, that the good son asks, “what do I need to do, to get some attention”?

        • “as Hashem said the Sarah is right and has no place next to a good child like Yitzchak”

          And even AFTER that happened, Avraham STILL considered Yishmael included in “Asher Ahavta”…. “The one that you love”

          The author is not condoning placing your other children in danger….

          He is saying that even WHATEVER you do with your child, it needs to be from love….

          By the way, Hashem only told Avraham to send away Yishmael when he committed all three of the cardinal sins, NOT for wearing ripped jeans and missing Minyan.

        • Or we are so busy wondering and worrying what the neighbors would say or think that we are too afraid to “love” our OTD child unconditionally!!! Hashem gave us a gift this child. He didn’t say, love this child if he is Frum and throw him out if he is not or if he is imperfect. Did he say I give you this child BUT if he is sick, deformed, mentally delayed, handicapped, emotionally challenged, learning disabled, or doesn’t believe in me, shut the door in his face. He gave us a raw gem and he said, nurture this gift, polish it and make it shine.

          It is our job to teach them and guide them to the best of our ability. It is our job to be the best role models we can be for them and to provide them with the best role models we can for them. We can’t watch them 24/7. It is up to them and Hashem to work out their own relationship. Sometimes it happens from the start and it stays that way and sometimes others interfere in that relationship. That is the child’s nisayon. The parents’ nisayon is to love that child unconditionally no matter what. Just as Hashem loves us.

      • “What different does it make to them if their kid is or isn’t frum?”

        I am sure you meant “difference.” So what are you saying? That it shouldn’t matter to parents whether their own children grow up frum? Ok. Thanks for your advice, Whiskey, I hoped you don’t get insulted if I look for more sober one.

    7. All this baloney psychology is driving away more and more. We have a problem, but it’s like trying to treat addiction to alcohol with an addiction to drugs.

      Manes Friedman has it right, all this is feeding the OTD movement by telling them something is wrong with you and therefor you are entitled to be OTD and cant even be normal. Never have we seen all this psychology in previous seforim. In matter of fact someone should read the “Reishit Chachma” on chinuch and they will see just the opposite and more then what all these “new” mechanchim are preaching.

      Now to the facts, Hashem took mount Sinai and placed on top of the Jews and said “you accept my torah or else” and when we needed to be punished oh how he punished us and we needed to throw us out of his house he did so as well.

      Most (serious) leaders of our and the previous generation were very much against all these therepists and counclers.

      • First, the Rabbi is not a mental health professional, so “all this baloney psychology” does not address his article and who he is.
        Second, many of us that grew up with mechanchim that approached us with your derech. We were really turned off by them and in those days we were called “bums” instead of OTD. We were hit, shunned and rejected. I can tell you that placing Mount Sinai on top of us did not create a desire to learn or be frum. Some of us were lucky enough to meet a rebbe who showed us love and concern. This opened us up to re-look yiddishkeit. It’s no different in todays times, and it is this that the Rabbi seems to be advocating (cherubim).

      • Your words are ignorant and sad. Do you have a child in the system? If you do; is he the bright one in the class or is he the “slow” one? Can your child sit still and not be distracted by every ambulance passing by? If he’s not in the top third of his class
        does he get private tutoring? Enough? How many tutors did he go through that have not worked out? Does he feel happy when he comes home after a long day? Does he feel accomplished? how is he treated when he gets home? Is it possible that the kid takes out his frustration, his shame, on his brothers/sisters/parents? Should he then be slapped? Did his rebbe mock him in front of the class for not knowing the first rashi? Was the rebbe called? Did you tell your child “it was your fault?” Did you call the rebbe? Did you make an excuse for the rebbe? That… “He has choives”, “he’s holding before a wedding” , “his child is sick”-
        Did you tell you’re child how “lucky” he is that he did’nt grow up when you grew up, and that if he wasn’t quiet he’d get smacked and mocked again for not knowing….

        Do you really think that your children would not “tune out?”
        Do you really think that your child would not drown out his
        hurt, his shame, his anger, his sadness, with an iPod?
        with goyishe music? A movie…
        Are you normal?

        • I am well aware of what you talking about and in no way was I condoning the nonsense you are describing, that was wrong and the extreme in the 60’s 70’s and 80’s, but that was the extreme, not the norm, and by the way I just had a vision of my cousin having his glasses broken by a nervous (yes father of sick child, and no Paranssa) english teacher, and my cousin is doing just fine, no counclier or therapy needed.

          Today every child is handled with kid gloves and as soon as he looks out the window once, he is given “ritalin” and if the teacher rebukes him “he doesn’t understand to children”. Discipline is a banned word in this decade.

          Children are growing up weaker and weaker having more and more mental issues, after all this what they are told needs to happen if someone looked at them with a frown. Recomend you read Walder’s “advice for life”.

          • And what if I was that boy? Should I be defensive and hide? Is being that boy a bad thing to be? Is that boy not created the way he is in Hashems image? Is it the boys fault that he didn’t die at childbirth so that people like you wouldn’t have to bother getting off the couch to grab the broom and sweep him under the rug? Is that boy not entitled to an education just like you? Do you think that your attitude is healthy for a child? Do you think that kid doesn’t see the look of derision on your face while learning in shul with a tutor? And do you ever contemplate the fact that you might not always be in a mocking position? Sechel yoshor? I think not.

      • Actually, kids don’t choose to go OTD, they are pushed and shoved off the derech by know it all mechanchim who are basically hypocrites who preach to the masses to do as I say and not as I do.

        By Yeshiva systems who are basically just businesses and could care less about the kids.

        And also by parents who do not role model the joy of being Frum Jews. Being a Frum Jew is NOT a job it is a way of life, and if you can’t be a Frum Jew happily then there is something wrong and something missing. If you don’t know why you are or why you are doing what you are doing, then there is something very wrong and a lot missing in your life. If you don’t know how to explain it to your children then how do you expect them to appreciate who they are and what they are doing?

        And if you are too busy to even have time for your kids then don’t blame others for what is happening to them.

        And then there is one more huge issue. Kids are being abused and molested and no one cares.

    8. Whiskey, you took the words out of my mouth.

      “Kach Es Bincha Es Yechidcha Asher Ahavta Es Yitzchok”

      Even AFTER Hashem told Avrohom to take the “son that you loved” he had to specify Yitzchok… Because Avraham loved them both….

      Mr. GaryWeiss, I don’t know you, nor your situation.

      I can’t imagine the pain you go through on a regular basis.

      But, if Avrohom could love Yishmael, who commited Avoda Zoroh, Giluy Aroyos, AND shefichas Domim….

      Please don’t hold your child to a higher standard than Yishmael, in order for him to get your love.

    9. To Our Rabbonim, Roshei Yeshivos and Rebbes
      First and foremost thanks for a beautiful article, No I B’H dont have an OTD kid, yet I deal and help these kids on a daily basis.

      Lets call a spade a spade, I will tell you the truth and nothing but the truth if you can bear to hear it, here goes;

      There is a “Pandemic” within Klal Yisroel, we are losing kids on a daily basis, thousands of them from Frum Orthodox homes, litvish homes and Chasidish homes, yet very few Rabonim, Roshei yeshivos or Rebbes have taken the initiative to find out why? what are we doing wrong? what are these kids missing?

      Lets take a kid that is not doing so well in Yeshiva/School they try to see the Beauty in Yiddishkeit, maybe they are from a poor home, maybe not, all they see is “Hypocrisy” Brothers fighting over Kavod and real estate (NO it has nothing to do with serving God) Massive Geneiva and Gezeila (better not to go into details)

      The kids all of a sudden dont see Shabbos as “Beautiful” they Never saw Yiddishkeit as “Beautiful” because we didnt show it to them as such, No body runs away from beauty and enjoyment, They find yiddishkeit as ugly, selfish and disgusting.
      To be continued

    10. It’s about time someone articulated these feelings and sentiments… now spread the word so all who need to hear it, get it. Someone sensitive as Rabbi Safran, can say it best. Kudos for posting these precious thoughts.

      • Many of us have been saying these things for many years. We have been preaching to the choir and we have been yelled at and made fun of. And do you know what? The numbers just continued to grow and grow. In order to solve a problem you have to first acknowledge it, then you have to be accountable for it, then you have to do Teshuva for it, then you can solve it.

        • Do you even understand the words you are writing? Or do you just spew them because you just want to keep talking?

          “preaching to the choir” to anybody acquainted with our language means trying to convince people who already think exactly like you, not the ones who yell at you or make fun of you. But why bother? Words mean what you want them to mean.

    11. There are Seforim from previous generations Gedolim who disagree with the context of this article. It is BAD to allow young children to see you welcome Sinners in your house. That will imply that you will allow them to follow same path, G-d forbid. Seen it happen over the last 35-years again and again.

      • And the old method without the “pure and instinctive” love given by the gedolim of that time doesn’t work because the key ingredient is missing and that is the “love” the gedolim of old had for every single Jew. Today we just don’t have true and honest gedolim to follow, who truly love and have our children’s best interest at heart. They are running institutions to support themselves and all they care about is the business they are running and the supporters they can gather behind them, blind sheep!

      • I’m sorry if I sound harsh, but I have been begging and pleading for change for over a decade and no one has listened. Parents have given up control over their kids because Yeshivas and Roshei Yeshivas as well as Rabbonim have demanded it. It has nothing to do with Yiddishkeit or Frumkeit. It has everything to do with making people follow rules, their rules, not necessarily Torah rules. Do they punish molesters like they punish children who break rules? A child that speaks to the opposite sex, or listens to secular music gets thrown out of school but a molester who raped a child or many children and destroyed neshomas, does he get thrown out? No of course not! How does that make sense to anyone? He gets kovod and an aliya in shul. If someone gave a child a treif lollypop the entire community would know to stay away from him, but a molester is protected.

        You are so willing to throw out a child who is OTD, what about the Rebbe or teacher or Rosh Yeshiva that shoved him off the derech, will you throw him out too? You are afraid the child will influence another, but how many kids did that Ehrlich man shove off the derech????

    12. Continued
      Our leaders think that by pushing these kids out of the community so “No one sees” the problem is solved, NO The problem gets bigger everyday, B’H we saved some kids by standing by their side showing them we care NO MATTER WHAT, and finally they agreed to go Re-Learn Yiddishkeit whether at Aish or at Nevey Seminary.

      Rabosai, the problem is getting worse by the day, we have the Morning after pill selling over the counter, soon Marijuana will be legal, do our Yeshivas/High schools/Seminaries have a five year plan?? or will more kids become victims?

      Avol Asheimim Anachnu, we are all guilty we are helping perpetuate Sinas chinam in our communities, we MUST condemn and Boycott any Rebbe that has a gight and goes to Court whether we like it or not. REVOLT NOW TO SAVE OUR CHILDREN KLAL YISROEL’S FUTURE. J Bernard

    13. Excellent article, very heartfelt. What about those 20% of people who were not abused, but who just refuse for whatever reason to accept Orthodox Jewish theology. Is the author saying our community should be prepared to love and accept them unconditionally as well – even if there is no “excuse” for their behavior? If so, what exactly does this mean for our relations with the non-frum world in general?

      • I guess i’m of the 20%. One reason is it doesn’t appeal to everyone. It’s best for people to come out and express how they feel than pretending just to make others happy.

      • It is our obligation to love every single Jew. WE might not like what they do and we don’t have to, nor do we have to approve of what they do. But our job is Ahavas Yisroel and we should never, ever take that lightly.

    14. It is a very horrible situation that so many children are difficult to “manage” by many of their parents. Some may be very unruly. Some may be curious. Some may be growing and some may be truly rebellious which may last indefinitely.

      Ultimately, you can scorn them, chide them, ridicule them or otherwise disassociate from them. But the real test of your will is how you account for yourself by Hashem and your family.

      The child can be fixed. The future can be held at a distance until it materializes. But the relationship can be either broken, worsened or repaired.

    15. Just a side note, for chassidisha parents who struggle with teens who are cold to yiddishkeit…

      Many times a child is thinking to himself that yiddishkeit is a brainwash, the whole community is brainwashed, cuz the only people he sees learning are in his eyes “chassidisha schleppers” who were brainwashed by their parents and comunities…

      Therefore it is worthwhile to take such kids to a siyum hadaf yomi where they show shiurim being attended by doctors,lawers, proffesers, etc..

      If you cant wait for a siyum, there are many cds and video clips, it might save a childs yiddishkeit..

      • Taking a kid to a dad Toni may or may not help.
        It’s a bigger move that I have seen and done that has shown great success.
        Take the kid out if the chassidishe systems (and its difficult to do) and put them in a more litvishe/moderenish system. Where can learn without a jacket and play some ball.

      • You think litfisha see any differnet. What about the fact that the only way to get into a decent yeshiva is money or yichus. You think our kids don’t see through this garbage?

    16. While I like the article over all, some assertions I can’t help doubting. One statistical item the rav brought in . “Our experts tell us in no uncertain terms that fully 80% of all OTD children have experienced some form of abuse.” To that, I have questions.

      – Who are these “experts?” Can we trust them to conduct surveys, accurately aggregate and properly interpret the raw data, thus turning it into anything like “statistics?”

      – What is their definition of OTD? (For example, my rebbe’s son did not go yeshiva, when in high school already put on a small knitted yarmulkeh, in the rest of his clothes is almost indistinguishable from the goyim his age (now around 20) and now lives on the college campus, at least half-an-hour drive away from any frum community. Is he off the derech? I would say yes. How about these “experts?”)

      – What is “some form of abuse?” Suffice it to say, so vague a definition already invalidates the whole assertion, for it can include almost everything. With kind of definition I could claim that fully 99.99% of those who stayed at least as frum as their parents (in our time, most surpass their parents in frumkhite) have experienced some for of abuse.

      • I really, really hope this is satire.

        You said:

        “- What is their definition of OTD? (For example, my rebbe’s son did not go yeshiva, when in high school already put on a small knitted yarmulkeh, in the rest of his clothes is almost indistinguishable from the goyim his age (now around 20) and now lives on the college campus, at least half-an-hour drive away from any frum community. Is he off the derech? I would say yes. How about these “experts?”)”

        Even though I think you wrote it for shock value, I will answer you as if you really meant it.

        There are 613 Mitzvos.

        Wearing a black hat is not one of them.
        Wearing a velvet Yarmulka is not a Mitzvas Aseh
        Wearing a knitted Yarmulka is not a Lav.

        Wearing jeans and looking “indistinguishable from the goyim” is at most a Drasha, certainly not one of the 613. In fact, Yosef Hatzadik did not dress “Jewish” and he was far from OTD.

        As long as a person performs the 613 Mitzvos, one would be considered a Rasha for even hinting that the person is OTD, in Hashem’s eyes he is a Tzaddik.

        How far we strayed from true Torah Yiddishkeit!!

        That a person who could be a Shomer Torah Umitzvos would be considered “OTD” !!!!

    17. With some parents having so many children it’s hard to be a good parent to everyone. We need to have smaller families (3-6 sounds normal) so each child gets the needed attention that he or she deserves.
      Also, lots of these parents are children themselves. Many getting married when they’re 18-20 yrs old. Immature, never had any responsibilities in their lives, etc…and 1 year later they are parents. It’s easy to conceive but very hard to parent.

      • Yours could sound as at least a reasonable advice if we didn’t have facts before us. Look at modern (maybe, maybe not) orthodox. They marry much later and have few children, 3-4 on average, well within your range. In other words, they do everything you want us to do. And from what I see, very few of their children remain as (un)frum as their parents. It’s not all bad news, though. While very large number of their children end up off derech (off off derech is more accurate, because they themselves are off derech by any reasonable definition of frumkheit), and another very large group of their children actually end up frum and join us. I couldn’t tell you for sure which group is larger.

      • Exactly. But, if they want to have children like the duggars then they better make sure the bank is full. Don’t be dependent of daddy (government). People put their selves in their own predicament. Learn from others mistakes.

      • Having a smaller family is not a guarantee in performing as better parents. people can be parenting a family of three children, and still not be good parents. And its not because their bad people; its because they don’t know better. It is crucial for couple’s to take parenting classes prior to starting a family or to maintain the quality of the child-parent relationship to be able to perform as good and loving parents. A good parenting class will gain us knowledge and give us the right tools to parent appropriately. Parenting is difficult; we all start off with no experience but at least there are resources which we should take to our advantage, to learn the skill of parenting so that our children can grow up to be happy healthy adults; spiritually & mentally.

      • I resent your implication that large families are the cause of children going OTD. My parents have 11 children and have raised a beautiful family. My parents aren’t perfect. My father has a huge temper and is abusive. Every erev yomtov was filled with screams and stress. Yet we all love yomtov because it was also filled with love, songs and joy. We grew up in a poor household with not much money. My siblings and I are raising beautiful families completely frum. My parents large family and disfunction did not cause OTD. And yes, they married young and so did we.

    18. For #7 & 14. Your approach could not withstand the haskala movement. Klal yisreol was decimated and that was when there were valid reason at least for those who OTDed. (A better life,secular education, etc) applying your principle today, where kids are leaving for a worse & tougher life – your method doesnt stand a chance. Anyone looking from golis europe (der alta heim) for golis america better start smelling the coffee.

      • Your logic is exactly upside down, it worked then it will definitely work now, and the “new” way that has been instituted the last few years is much much worse, the numbers speak for themselves.

        Everyone has relatives that are OTD, and from what I see, they are not exclusively from the very strict disciplinary frum families.

        • To prove my point in 1970, Conservation membership was 1.2 million. Reform about the same. orthodox 600,000. I am aware of the Shoah. my point is if our approach is to push away they will leave and they left in droves. then there are millions who are not affiliated at all. These numbers tells me we failed the masses. If not for chassidism we would be worst off.

          • And the approach of Chassidim was to disassociate themselves from these OTD people as much as possible and redoubling our effort to insert simcha and warmness in yiddishkeit, not foolish psychology which is worse then strict discipline which is what is driving the youth away from growing up strong and normal..

    19. The OTD phenomena is not new. However with internet and the success of Footsteps kids see they have choices. Very often, more choices than their parents. When the Judaism in the home is full of poverty and restrictions, rebellion is natural. At the same time the pressure of conformity is very high. If the yiddishkeit was presented with more ahavah and less yirah I think children would be more inspired to stay within the fold. On the other hand the shandas that children see only hasten their departure. It goes without saying that a victim of abuse would seek comfort outside of the community of abusers who protect the abuser and punish the victim.

    20. The child has to be put in a yeshiva that is a good fit for him/her. Simply because the elder siblings went there and were successful is not a reason to keep the child there if they are not flourishing there. Each child is different and intervention must be done very early or else nebech we have a very troubled soul.

    21. Happy as you may think you are with your assessments of the youth. Calling anyone an “OTD” child meaning of course “off the derech” is a CRIME. Against REASON. You do not know any childs fate and you do not know Hashems plan. You do more damage by incriminating the sound mind against your own reasoning.

      Factor in that noone knows usually until later in life what their true ‘Derech’ is. And you would be surprised if you knew G-ds will how many people have many learning situations to internalize and set them on their destined path. As we know from Tanakh, there are many created who do not par out. They add controversy and often hardship to life. Apparently Hashem knows you will have trials.

      Trust in Hashem and listen to only Torah.

    22. I don’t any facts to support what I am going to say and I didn’t read the full article (only the comments) – but it feels like emes to me.

      parents that hate their children for going OTD are misplacing their hate. what they really hate is (no particular order):
      1) what will others think of me and my parenting skills (which may or may not be the reason for the OTD – there are myriads of factors).
      2) how it will affect the shidduchim of the other children.
      3) what will others will say (assuming that everybody is gossip monger with nothing to do but talk about them).
      4) the crush to their ego – as if HaShem promised them that their path in like will have no thorns to cut them or pebbles to trip over.
      5) rejection. (how do you think the parents of a Ba’al Teshuva feels when their child goes of the derech in which they were raised – don’t kid yourselves, many BT’s have love/hate relationships with their parents).

      point to think about: you can Love the child without liking the child ie. what the child does or does not do (thanks mom A’H – for once sharing that advise with me on a separate issue).

    23. I am very sad to say this. Some very bright young people read the news, watch our “leaders” and come to the conclusion that the leaders are off the derech. Lie cheat and steal – off the derech. And, we ignore it at our peril. They know that can’t be right.

    24. I find it absolutely abhorent that people would bash a poor father in pain who’s OTD kid is trying to influence his younger siblings and instigating his parents (I’m sure that putting theMcDonald bag in the sink is just one instance of dusgusting , disrespectful behavior).
      People in thhis generation are mixed up – caring more about peopl with bad behavior than those getting hurt.
      Wether or not the person commenting in post #1 behaved badly to his son no one can know. But when people jump to this conclusion just because of his normal reaction of frustration, which he calls “hate” to his disrepectful, selfish son and bash him for it, just shows peoples liberal and accepting attitude towards those who do whatever they want, even at the cause of hurting those around them.

      • You’re right, its a very bad sneaky move for the child to do anything like that to a known kosher kitchen and it is clear he knew the consequences although perhaps it only happened once or twice. Either way, it not an excuse to “Hate” your son. You can hate the behavior. You can consider getting him to a therapist for maladaptive behavior. He may be old enough to move out on his own. Ultimately, it is not about how you feel when he does what he apparently did at least once above, but really what you do to make yourself feel better about your relationship and your home itself.

      • Hernor, you are neglected to understand the reason behind the child doing such openly hurtful and painful actions towards his parents. Kids don’t behave this way without a reason. There are so many, many OTD kids who do their aveiros out of view of their parents. When children bring it home, in their parents face, there is a reason for that.

        • Of course there is a reason – it could be hurt but it could just as well be selfishness which a lot of OTD’s tend to have.
          And even if a teenager is hurt it doesn’t give the teen any right to act disrespectul – this is part of the aseres hadibrus without any ifs and buts, even if a teen doesnt hear how much he/she is loved or whatever else causes the kid to act out.
          Life is not a bowl of cherries for the majority of us and you still gotta act like a mentch!!!
          And how about the rest of the kids who don’t act out and follow the rules!!?? They don’t deserve acceptance for who they are? I barely see any mention of that anywhere.
          Parents are human, they make mistakes. As long as one tries to better themselves, and be a good, even average parent then they are doing fine. If a kid thinks that they own the world, can do whatever they want and on top of all that be spiteful without respect to those who gave given so much to them, then sorry they should go fly a kite!!
          That does not mean that an OTD cannot do teshuva, a person can return anytime and Hashem waits for him, but to tell parents to kill themselves for these selfish kids is rediculous.

      • Yes. Its anti-privilege and anti-social. It is the excuse of the foolish mind to deal with someone’s children as if the children are always the problem. A fool with a stake in gold. A mind does not find the future half theirs or half their children’s. A terrible example and probably why some of the children go… ‘off the derech’.

    25. How many parents tell their children EVERY day since they were born,”I love you so much. I am so glad that HaShem gave you to us for a child. i am SO proud of you”?
      How may parents express demonstrative love (hugs and kisses) EVERY day since their child was born?
      Children need positive demonstrative love and affirmation every day.
      Having been involved as a rabbinical counselor for decades my first question to parents of a child who is having difficulties with their Yiddishkeit/Yahadut, is “When was the last time that you hugged your child and told them how much you love them and how happy you are that they are your child? “
      Unfortunately the answers is always the same, “It has been years, since they were very small” and “I am supposed to tell them that i love them and am so proud of them when they are OTD?” And my answer to all parents is “Yes, Even now, hugs, kisses and telling your troubled child that you love them”
      Stop focusing on what is wrong with your child and concentrate on what is right” AND do this with great love. AND do not even talk about the problems.
      Most young people will respond positively. Your child needs to know that you feel their pain and love them.

    26. I find it disgusting that every time a child goes OTD the parents are blamed for it. And the reason I so disgusted is becuase I personally went through a lot of abuse ( mentally and emotionaly- not physicaly) at home, and looked down at teachers in school as hypocrites. The reason I stayed frum is because I searched gor the truth not like OTD who want to do whatever they want because they went through ____ ( just fill in the blank). Every person created has their nisyonos and they have to overcome them.
      However, OTD kids are not meant to be written off, as a person can do teshuva till the day they die.
      However, as well we cannot in general say a person became OTD because they were abused. The fact is that a minority of OTD children are abused mentally/ emotiinally and a very small percentage of kids were abused physically. Most of them come from good, caring homes but feel entitlement to their chosen way of life and will blame their decision to lead a decandent life on xyz.
      This is not a new phenomenon. A minority of yidden left Eretz Yisreol because they adopted the Egyptian lifestyle and throughout our history a LOT of people fell away.
      Although each Yiddishe neshama that falls away is very painful especially to the OTD’S family, I feel the picture painted of our communities is in blogs and articles such as these is very distorted. I b”H see that the majority of youths from frum families are as dedicated as their parents.
      I do have some issues the way parenta are too much into gashmius these days to really give over the depth and passion of a Yiddish way of life and never talk about Hashkafah and neither unfortunately do the schools which are into intensive “learning” ( this is also bad for the kids who cannote learn intensively).
      The bottom line though, is that EVERYONE’S nisyones’s are custom made by Hashem and people should stop using excuses for to justify bad behavior.

    27. sherree bravo, kudos. simply amazing and said with are very aware when someone loves them. they test and try your patience. you wait with bated breath for them to walk. when they fall as toddlers, most parents, i hope, run to help them up, and kiss their booboo.and repeat it when they walk and fall again. we hold them with both hands, and walk with them.. yes, it’s hard, you’re bent over, your back hurts, etc. but you love them. And the child knows that…Continue picking them up, and loving them.

    28. Speaking with other askanim I heard of the 10% principle. Basically 10% of kids will go OTD. If a family has 10 kids one will nebuch go. The objective of the community is to preserve the other 9 and the 90 children they will have. (of which 9 slough off) If we go aftr the one child we risk losing the 90 who will fill their ranks. While this sobering math is difficult to hear, the calculations are just as exact as the shidduch crises math. No one says to not be metapel the OTD, but not at the risk of losing entire communities.
      This makes me want to vomit.

    29. Attention parents of a KIP (Kid in Pain): sorry you had to read all the way down here to find constructive help. I’m a parent of a KIP. These beautiful neshomos deserve and need our total ahava without any demands of mitzva observance. Some trauma caused them to act out and rebel. We, the parents have the most power to save them from spiraling further out of control. Yes, it is a great challenge trying to lead a frum lifestyle while allowing these anti-jewish behaviors in our home while these kids in pain find their way. I follow Avi Fishoff’s Twisted Parenting. Call him. His system has worked wonders. The day to day grind is still difficult, though so much better than not following his guidance. ‘Before Avi’, our KIP was yelling, cursing, running away, & considering suicide. ‘After Avi’, the above issues have gone down to about 5%. Our 15 year old still has piercings, though a lot less than expected, is holding off on tattoos, drugs and the opposite gender, is only mildly drinking, and most importantly is safe at home. Considering how far (or dead) our KIP could be right now if not for ‘twisting’, is proof this is a life saving program. Call Avi! Wrap them in Ahava!

    30. Parents: let go of your anger !

      Feel their pain !

      They need your love desperately. Don’t let the drugs / sex / alcohol / piercings / tattoos / music / dress blind you. They only use it to block out the pain of their trauma. Your love is more powerful. Use it and you will see healing.

      It will take time. Do it for them. Hashem gave us a difficult test. Run with it!

      Call Avi!

    31. Kids need to learn that just as there is love and acceptance for who they are, there is punishment for not obeying the rules that parents set forth ( this of coures does not mean dictatorship rules, only rules that are required for a healthy child developement and healthy family relationships).
      The essence of Yiddishkeit teaches us that as much as Hashem lives us, there is retributiin for sin. This is chinuch.
      Today however, the goyishe culture has seeped into our mentality – gay rights, bisexual rights, etc. Everybody has a ” right” to live like they want and we have to accept them. People disfigure themselves, behave like animals… Doesn’t matter, it’s their “right” to do so. Not even that but we are supoosed to accept that these lifestyle are legimate just like “regular” lifestyles. Who cares that the kids lose out, having no referance to normql behavior and thinking patterns and when then grow up will expect their right, perhaps that will be living with animals, to be accepted.
      Our community is going slowly unconsioulsy

    32. Continuation…
      Our community is slowly, slipping into a liberal “accepting mode”. I see comments in differnent articles accepting gay rights etc. And for our own, OTDs who “REBEL” against the words of Hashem, people are like, ” he wasn’t given enough love” etc. Soon we will say they have a certain gene ( similiar to ODD) that CAUSES them to rebel. No Shabbos,decandent behavior… ( loshen hora is even worse they screqm) It doesnt matter, we have to accept them, love them…regardless of what they do.
      Hashem made a pact with us to keep his Torah. We all fall through sometime, wether it’s loshon hora or another transgresion but certainly we want to continue to be good Jews. But if we accept people who disobey Hashem’s laws as “poor kd

      • Cont. If we love OTDs more than it bothers us how terrible they act, if we accept their actions as ” expressing their pain” what does that say to our kids who are are on the right path? We are saying to them that if you are in pain you have a license to act out. We are saying that to the OTDs as well. I think that may lower their guilt levels that will quiet some of their agressiveness diwn ( this is a reaction to the guilt they feel depp down) but it wont bring back the majority of them.
        Those more liberal frum communities who are ALL about love and no consequences will reap the fruits if their acceptance down the line- and that is that all and every sin will be accepted, just as long as find a good excuse.


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