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My Orthodox Friend Cut Me Off!

My Orthodox Friend Cut Me Off!

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Question:

I'm not Jewish, but my best friend while growing up was. Our bond was unusual for teenagers and young adults. We had a real love and respect for each other.

In his mid 20's, he was drawn to Israel and eventually moved there. He became orthodox and is now actually a rabbi.

Not long after he began his spiritual journey, he shut me out of his life completely, but without a word or explanation. He did this quite abruptly and very insensitively. I decided to give him some space and wait for some correspondence.

I didn't hear a word from him for nine years, although he occasionally visited home not far from here.

Now he's been emailing me, he's married with kids, and wants to reconnect. It hurts, but I just don't want to deal with him.

My question is this: Because the collapse of our friendship coincided with his awakening religiosity, it has crossed my mind that maybe he was instructed either directly or indirectly to sever ties with old friends, particularly non-Jews.

Could this be possible? And if so, why would he now be trying to contact me?

Response:

Many of us have been through this. You fall in love with a different way of living, rituals, study -- a whole new wave of life washes over you -- and your only way to deal with it is by blocking out the rest of the world. I've seen it happen not only to people getting into their Judaism, but with musicians, artists, career people, politicians. Although, yes, religion may be the most encompassing of all.

It's a sign of an earnest personality, someone who puts his all into anything he does. You can't achieve a total immersion into anything without first letting go of everything else. Perhaps it was that same earnestness that allowed such a strong bond between the two of you in younger years. This is a person who, wherever he is, all of him is there.

So what has happened now? Simple: It's taken your friend nine years to get his feet back down on the ground. He's finally comfortable with where he is. And now he feels a need to get back to who he is and where he comes from.

I believe your friend's reaching back out to you is sincere. You can give him the benefit of the doubt. The world, the Jewish sages say, can be sustained only through forgiveness.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at Chabad.org, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
All names of persons and locations or other identifying features referenced in these questions have been omitted or changed to preserve the anonymity of the questioners.
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Discussion (51)
February 5, 2016
Orthodox Friend Wants to Reconnect
You have to be honest with him by telling him how badly he hurt you by cutting you off without explanation. You can also ask if it was because you're not Jewish.

I agree with you that what he did to you wasn't a nice thing to do, but sometimes, people don't always realize how badly their decisions affect those around them. If you want nothing more to do with him, tell him straight out.
Lisa
Providence, RI
August 19, 2014
Linda "Learning Not To Make Assumptions"
Linda,

I have been trying for so long to follow this advice properly. Communication is difficult, fear is strong, assumptions are hard to acknowledge as such, etc.

Yet when I see your words in action, things work out, and when I see them not in action, things often don't. Thank you for sharing.
Anonymous
Pittsburgh, PA
February 21, 2011
life...
I know where this person is going through for i've been there.
We often hurt people just because we're feeling insecure, the same way some people may hurt us because they don't feel comfortable.

I begun to change my way of life some years ago and I lost some friends in the road -some of them because they didn't feel ok with a Torah observant woman around them and others because they didn't belong to my world any longer.

But whenever there was a sincere and deep bond between us, we've reconnected and talked about what drove us apart and finally why it wasn't that important after all, because at the end of the day we are rediscovering each other.

So... yes I believe you should give your friend a chance. At worst, nothing will change and at best... you shall gain a new and deep relationship! :)
Igerne
Paris, France
September 16, 2010
RE:when family cuts you off.
Dear Anonymous!
You should know that the approach which your kids took is not necessarily the right one. We Jews have a good joke (that really is a true statement) ..."Where 2 Jews meet there will be 3 opinions" and such is the nature of our faith its very argumentative especially concerning ethics. But there is a general consensus that we must avoid hurting other people around us as all of us regardless of faith are G-D's creatures and sons and daughters of Adam and Eve so the Godly soul is within all of us. For further Talmudic justification of this statement (as your children won't accept anything less) I refer you to this website as well as askmoses .com, or Chabad.org Ask the Rabbi and see their response your issue is no less important than the one you have commented on
sincerely
RostikAviel
port hueneme, ca
chabadofoxnard.com
September 2, 2010
insight
Great answer from the Rabbi. One personal addendum: as I was becomming observant many years ago, I was discussing the "perils" with one of my non- Jewish (non-white) friends. She said, "Just as my people have had to explore their roots to discover who we are, you have to, also. Just know that this may separate us in the interim."
Anonymous
Philadelphia, pa
July 29, 2010
This happens all of the time, people drift into different directions when they are adults. When we are children, teenagers and young adults our lives pretty much coincide with our peers but when we are adults we start to move in different directions, this really has nothing to do with religion. It is about the lives we choose to lead and most of the time it is not how others want to live their lives so we move in different directions. I am moving back home to NYC this month so that I can live my life Jewish with my son, my dad is Jewish but my mom was not so it is going to take a great deal of time, spiritual growth and learning to become the person I need to be. I have lost contact with friends from college but in the past few months, thanks to FB have found some of them and have a new found relationships as people in our forties, not the same relationships we had as single young women, jobs, careers, spouses, divorce, grandparent hood is the main topic of conversation.
Anonymous
NY, n
July 19, 2010
reflects the state of mind of the Orthodox friend
If you have a non-Jewish friend (not of the opposite sex), & become religious, if the friendship is solid, it's unlikely you'd drop the friend just because of you aren't Jewish. My best friend today (other than my husband and my sister) is my non-Jewish college roommate. We are very different, but she's alway supported me, and I've tried to support her even though our lives are very different. However, when I became religious, I dropped many other friends, both Jewish and non-Jewish. Sometimes I just got too busy w/family & kids, or them with work. W/some, we just drifted apart b/c our lives diverged so much. & there are a few I dropped because they reallly were bad influences on my spiritual growth (gossiped incessantly, were exceptionally shallow, were promiscuous, stole money, etc.). You don't have to pick up the pieces with the friend, but if you choose to do so, try to be understanding if he gives you an explanation that moved him to drop contact with you in the 1st place.
Rivka C.
L.A.
June 22, 2010
it's life, not Judaism
it sounds like this person still thinks of you. but you, on the other hand, don't want to deal with him. it is understandable but not very forgiving. i would give him a chance to tell me what happened. This happened to me a few times, when friends "left" and came back years later. it never brought our intense friendship back but at least, I got an idea of what the heck happened. Judaism does not instruct anyone to severe ties with gentiles. but people often grow apart. this happened with me and my Christian friends from school and college because they simply did not understand my thinking and I - theirs. But this happens in life all the time because people change and often not in the way we are.
Anonymous
Brooklyn, NY, USA
June 21, 2010
I'm pretty positive the Rabbi doesn't know this.
He probably didn't even thing about it as "abandoning". He just got busy, and let everything and everyone else go to pot. I had a friend who NEVER called me, EVER, and never returned my calls; yet, when she did pick up, she was very HAPPY to hear from me. I had a standing invitation to come over her house on every holiday. She and her husband, when I had the divorce, took my sons under their wing and let them sleep over, took them to basketball games, etc. She had numerous physical ailments and had to go through it her way (alone, didn't want to bother anyone). I'm glad I stayed loving her until she died. I didn't care that she didn't call me when alive. She was into her own religion (Catholic). I didn't blame the religion.
Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell
Riverside, CA, USA
June 20, 2010
Carmen, not Lashon Hara for this reason...
There are no names mentioned. There is only a SITUATION mentioned. Many of us go through this in real life. If any of the postings can help, then it is TIKKUN OLAM (rectifying the world). It will heal.
Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell
Riverside, CA, USA