I have been growing slowly in my observance and knowledge of Judaism over the past few years. Recently, a friend began to learn more and grow in her observance. Her husband is pretty jaded about his Judaism, so it's usually up to her to increase observance in their home. I am proud of her for taking the steps she has.

Sometimes she asks me questions, or she asks for explanations, which I happily provide if I know the responses. However, when I try to approach her or encourage her to do more, she gets hyper-sensitive and tells me that I am pushing her.

I'm stuck. She clearly wants to be more observant, but she doesn't like taking advice from me. I don't want to overstep my boundaries. How can I help my friend connect to her Judaism without being too pushy?


Thank you for your letter. You ask an important question. Indeed, as a friend you are in a unique position to be able to offer advice, guidance and information that otherwise is not available to your friend. As you say, her own family and her husband do not know enough, or are not concerned enough, to encourage progress, whereas you are.

And, needless to say, you want to give your friend every possible opportunity for growth in her Judaism.

Your sentiments are all in the right place. But you need to be sensitive to her as a person.

She knows you're there. She knows you have knowledge that she doesn't have. She knows you're willing and able to offer her all sorts of guidance. She knows this all.

Your responsibility is to be her friend. You've already offered help in the past, and she knows you're willing to help her with her growth in the future. That is where it should stand. Do not discuss her growth with her. She is growing, and your example will shine for her. Don't hover over her, reminding her, or teaching her or pointing out something or other. Don't talk about Judaism or what anyone needs to do. She will ask you when she wants to know. Enter when invited. Just be her friend.

Bronya Shaffer
for The Judaism WebsiteChabad.org


Thank you for your response. It is very helpful and I'll consider it carefully.