When Your Child is “Out of the Orthobox” by Rabbi YY Jacobson

When Your Child is “Out of the Orthobox” by Rabbi YY Jacobson

As the mother of several cookie-cutter defying kids, this video from Rabbi YY really hit the spot.



  1. Parents Are Not Held Responsible for Children Going Off the Derech

    I spoke with a woman whose two sons are living a lifestyle that is different from how they were raised.

    The mother was overwhelmed with grief and felt burdened with guilt.

    Although it is not possible to stand in another person’s shoes with all their surroundings and life circumstances, we have compassion and felt their pain.

    Every time we go through anything in life, we need to look in the Torah for guidance.

    I asked the mother to look at our patriarchs and matriarchs so she can see that she is in good company as they too went through similar struggles.

    Our forefathers went through a lot of challenges in their lives. We can find discussions of every challenge in the Torah and learn from them.

    Avraham the first of our founding fathers, was surrounded by evil and idol worship, yet he chose to follow Hashem.

    After getting married and not having children, Sarah asked her husband Avraham to take her maidservant as a wife to have children for them so Sarah can raise the child.

    In Beraishis Parshas Lech Lecha Chapter 16 Pasuk 1 and 2:

    וְשָׂרַי֙ אֵ֣שֶׁת אַבְרָ֔ם לֹ֥א יָלְדָ֖ה ל֑וֹ וְלָ֛הּ שִׁפְחָ֥ה מִצְרִ֖ית וּשְׁמָ֥הּ הָגָֽר׃
    Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar.

    וַתֹּ֨אמֶר שָׂרַ֜י אֶל־אַבְרָ֗ם הִנֵּה־נָ֞א עֲצָרַ֤נִי יְהוָה֙ מִלֶּ֔דֶת בֹּא־נָא֙ אֶל־שִׁפְחָתִ֔י אוּלַ֥י אִבָּנֶ֖ה מִמֶּ֑נָּה וַיִּשְׁמַ֥ע אַבְרָ֖ם לְק֥וֹל שָׂרָֽי
    And Sarai said to Abram, “Look, the LORD has kept me from bearing. Consort with my maid; perhaps I shall have a son through her.” And Abram heeded Sarai’s request.

    A maidservant belongs to her boss. Hagar belonged to Sarah and therefore Hagar’s child belonged to Sarah as well.

    Sarah and Avrahum raised Yishmael as their own. Yet despite all their great influences, love and holiness that surrounded him, he did not grow up to be a righteous person.

    Rivka came from a home of evil and idol worship. Yet she too chose to be righteous and to follow Hashem.

    Yitzchak and Rivka were blessed with twins, one grew up to be our great forefather Yakov while the other child turned out to be Esav.

    Both children were born and raised together at the same time under the same circumstances. They were the couple’s only children and yet the two turned out so different.

    Maybe by giving them twins, Hashem wanted to teach us that there is no place for guilt when it comes to our children.

    With Yitzckak and Rivka’s twins there were no questions such as to “maybe he was the oldest child and we put too much pressure on him” or “He as the middle child we did not give him enough attention which he needed.”

    Even in their case when all circumstances were the exact same and both children were loved by their parents, they grew up very different.

    Yitzchak and Rivka kept Esav at home with them. They did not throw him out and Esav reached great heights in his Mitzvah of כיבוד אב ואם Kibid Of V’aim.

    In Beraishis, Parshas Toldos Chapter 25 Pasik 28 it says:
    וַיֶּֽאֱהַ֥ב יִצְחָ֛ק אֶת־עֵשָׂ֖ו כִּי־צַ֣יִד בְּפִ֑יו וְרִבְקָ֖ה אֹהֶ֥בֶת אֶת־יַֽעֲקֹֽב
    And Isaac loved Esau because [his] game was in his mouth, but Rebecca loved Jacob.

    Yakov loved his son Esav because he prepared him his food every day and Rivka loved her son Yakov.

    Both children were very much loved for who they were, and each child was “a favorite” of one of their parent

    Rachel and Leah our matriarchs also came from a house and neighborhood known for their lies and deceit. Yet they choose to live a life a holiness.

    Noach had three sons named Shem, Chom and Yafes. Shem, and Yafes grew up to be righteous while Chom was not.

    In Sefer Bershes, Parshas Noach Chapter 9 Pasuk 22 describes the evil ways of Chom and in Pasuk 24 to 26 it says how Noach cursed Chom over his actions.

    וַיִּ֥יקֶץ נֹ֖חַ מִיֵּינ֑וֹ וַיֵּ֕דַע אֵ֛ת אֲשֶׁר־עָ֥שָׂה־ל֖וֹ בְּנ֥וֹ הַקָּטָֽן׃
    When Noah woke up from his wine and learned what his youngest son had done to him,

    וַיֹּ֖אמֶר אָר֣וּר כְּנָ֑עַן עֶ֥בֶד עֲבָדִ֖ים יִֽהְיֶ֥ה לְאֶחָֽיו׃
    he said, “Cursed be Canaan; The lowest of slaves Shall he be to his brothers.”

    וַיֹּ֕אמֶר בָּר֥וּךְ יְהֹוָ֖ה אֱלֹ֣הֵי שֵׁ֑ם וִיהִ֥י כְנַ֖עַן עֶ֥בֶד לָֽמוֹ׃
    And he said, “Blessed be the LORD, The God of Shem; Let Canaan be a slave to them.

    This occurred after the flood and destruction of the world. There was no one and nothing to blame. There were no bad friends or negative influences around. No Yeshiva system or melamdem hitting the children, there was no Internet or smartphones to influence Cham negatively. Yet he turned out bad.

    We need to learn that parents cannot control the outcome of their children’s lives.

    Just like us, our children were given their own challenges and strengths so they can choose their paths on their own.

    Hashem set up the world with bechira, every human being has choice.

    In Devorim Parshas Netuvim Chapter 30 Pasuk 19 it says:
    הַעִדֹ֨תִי בָכֶ֣ם הַיּוֹם֮ אֶת־הַשָּׁמַ֣יִם וְאֶת־הָאָ֒רֶץ֒ הַחַיִּ֤ים וְהַמָּ֙וֶת֙ נָתַ֣תִּי לְפָנֶ֔יךָ הַבְּרָכָ֖ה וְהַקְּלָלָ֑ה וּבָֽחַרְתָּ֙ בַּחַיִּ֔ים לְמַ֥עַן תִּֽחְיֶ֖ה אַתָּ֥ה וְזַרְעֶֽךָ׃
    I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day: I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life—if you and your offspring would live—

    Can a child blame an adult who caused pain in their life? Yes, but he cannot excuse his own behavior of not taking responsibility for his own actions.

    Blaming others comes from a subconscious desire to manage failure and disappointment from ourselves.

    When you use excuses for your actions, you give up your power to change.

    It always hurts me to hear from off the derech kids that they left the fold because a teacher or melamed hurt them. Yes, the pain and anger is real and justified. However, he or she already took away part of your עולה הזה why give them the power to take away your עולם הבא? Don’t. Take back the power, take back control and have the courage to chose life.

    Can a parent feel guilty? What’s the point?
    Remember this:
    No amount of guilt can solve the past and no amount of anxiety can change the future.

    Give yourself the biggest gift of all by living in the present.

    Find as much joy in every moment as you possibly can. Live in the now.

    How can you stop feeling guilty, blamed, or depressed? Allow yourself to mourn the loss of the hopes and dreams you had for these children. Allow yourself to love and build a relationship with your beloved child.

    Don’t allow your child’s external look or the options of outsiders influence your relationship with your child.

    Know that behind their tough exterior, your child’s soul is crying out for your love, acceptance and deep connection. Once your child feels a satisfying connection with you, they will be able to slowly build their relationship with Hashem again.

    I heard from a few teens who are off the derech that they feel their parents did not like them for the person they are. “My mother likes my kippa and tizizis not me, once I removed those she wanted nothing to do with me.” Show your child that you love him because he has a Tzelim Elokim. Hashem the creator of the world believes in him and continues to give your child life, you just be a partner with Hashem by giving your child the love he needs.

    Focus on the here and now. See what you can do today to make your day and the day of those around you a bit better and happier. Just like our forefather Yitzchok, focus on helping your children be great in כיבוד אב ואם or another mitzvah they are good at.

    Every mitzvah, no matter how small, they do is a great zchus for them.

  2. Mina Gordon

    Yes, although parents have a holy obligation to provide their children with the best circumstances as they are capable of,there are no guarantees as to the visible result. There is a promise, however, that every Jewish soul will somehow find its way back to its Heavenly Father.

    The Kli Yakar in Parshas Toldos 28:23 says that Rivka was told that even from Eisav she will eventually have nachas!]

    Have you heard the father and son duo who sing together about this issue? One song is called Echod and the other is Zman L’shinui

  3. Roberta Carasso

    Thank you Chana Jenny,

    This is the first time the sound was wonderfully clear to hear Rabbi YY Rubinstein and I look forward to listening to others.

    If you had the sound improved, I am grateful to you. It makes such a difference.

    Love your work,
    Chaya Rivka Carasso

  4. Mina Gordon

    Rabbi Y Y Jacobson not Rubenstein.

  5. Leah Haziza

    Yes! so true!
    NOw I am asking myself: am i living my own dream or my parents dream?

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