Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Shomer Negiya and Kiruv

NCSY does a lot of good, but it has a big downside, too. It's what they call the "poroh adumah" effect -- makes bad good and good bad at the same time. The interaction between boys and girls that takes place there often has a negative effect on people's lives. That includes advisers as well. So depending on where you’re holding when you become associated with NCSY, it could have a very positive or a crushingly negative effect on you.

And the whole program is therefore subject to controversy, if it is permitted to have an organization that puts some people in danger in order to save others.

That's not evil incarnate....but it may well be something that many who are already frum but human would like to stay miles away from.

If you are becoming less frum and getting involved with girls because of NCSY then get out immediately. And that means now.


Boy-girl relationships are very strong. The longer you're into them the harder it is to get out. Like all addicting-habit forming behaviors, the earlier and the faster you get out, the more likely you are not to get back in.


The thing is though that if you want to be mekarev people and work with Baalei Teshuva, you can do so without having to do with guys. There are plenty of Kiruv organizations besides NCSY. So if you can get the benefits without the problems, what's the point?

Also, you should know that being friends and, mingling with guys is prohibited according to Halachah (see the "Platonic Relationships" forum). How far, then, are you willing to violate Halachah to be Mekarev people? Are you willing to eat at McDonalds with non-religious people that you believe can become frum through your intervention? Are you willing to violate Negiyah in order to be Mekarev guys? How far exactly would you go, and how did you decide how much of your own Neshoma you are willing to corrupt for Kiruv?

Remember, too, that in NCSY besides having to do with the non-religious guys that you are being Mekarev, a greater issue is the fact that you will be mingling with other advisors, or Kiruv workers who are guys, becoming friends with them socially with no excuse that you are being Mekarev them. Such contact has been known to literally change the lives, for the worse, of course, of those involved.

The Mitzvah of V'ahavta L'rayachah Komochah does not require you to put yourself in spiritual danger for the sake of others. On the contrary - it is prohibited according to the majority of Poskim to put yourself in physical danger in order to save someone else's life; so too the Seforim tell us it would be prohibited to put yourself in spiritual danger (sofek sakanah) in order to save the spiritual life of another.


You can be Mekarev someone despite the fact that while doing so you're becoming friends with the girl adviser next to you. If let’s say we found out that advisers in a Kiruv organization were being served non-Kosher fish during Shabbatons. Does that mean they weren’t able to be Mekarev people? One thing has nothing to do with the other. So it’s wrong for the NCSY advisers to become friends with each other but they can still be Mekarev people.

Granted, it's a tainted Kiruv and it may not be worth it if this is what they're doing, but the people who are keeping Shabbos because of the organization do not disappear.

There is no rule that says that just because an organization does much good in one area, that they cannot be doing bad in another area at the same time.


Whether NCSY should or should not be here does not depend as much on how much they accomplish but on how "kosher" their methods are. This is the rule when it comes to these things: Hashem knew, when He created the Halachah, that one day there will be an NCSY, and that it will be the only kesher many kids have to Yiddishkeit, and nevertheless he said do not mingle boys and girls together.

In other words, the ends do not justify the means. As Rav Yisroel Salanter said, "Our job is not to accomplish, nor to make things happen. Rather, our job is to do."

We do not own the Torah so that we can say let's forget about this prohibition because by doing so it gives us greater returns. We don’t know what Hashem wants our actions to accomplish on this world, we just know what He wants our actions to be.

Where's the limit to how much Aveiros you would allow because the good it does outweighs it? And what scale are you using?

Maybe even one Aveirah done by an adviser is not worth making 20 kids frum, since the kids were Tinokos Shenishbu to begin with, and therefore not responsible for their Aveiros, but the advisers were plain wanton sinners?

See, we can't make such calculations. We don't own the Torah. We just do what Hashem said.

And in the particular case of NCSY, the question is not even applicable, since they do have the option of changing their methods so that boy and girl advisers will be separate, like other Kiruv organizations. And even though it’s possible that they will not attract as many kids as they do now, but they will have the same extensive network through the OU, and they will be reaching a tremendous amount of kids anyway.

At that point, the question is should they allow boys and girls to mingle in order to attract even MORE kids?

And to that, the answer would have to be an obvious "no."

Even Rav Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg ZTL who permitted a Kiruv organization called Yeshurun in France that involved boys and girls both, demanded that they do not mingle - even the kids, surely the advisers - and that the advisers be total Yorei Shomayim. And even under those circumstances, many Rabbonim would not permit. And this was in France where this was the ONLY WAY to stop intermarriage and to reach the non-religious youth.

So the answer to whether NCSY should continue or not is "(c) - None of the above". It should change, and make its methods safe and kosher, and then continue its wonderful work.


The difference between this site and NCSY is that I sincerely doubt that anybody who refuses to have the Internet will change their mind and get it solely for this site. So what we are doing here is taking people who already have internet access and improving their situation by giving them this site.

As opposed to NCSY where there are advisers etc. who would never have been talking to boys except for the fact that they are in NCSY. That makes their situation worse.

NCSY poses a danger for its volunteers, this site hopefully distracts its users from the dangers.

What Aish HaTorah is doing and what NCSY is doing are two different things. Aish HaTorah only causes the "mingling" of the non-religious Jews they are trying to me Mekarev. Presumably, those Jews were not against mingling with guys anyway. NCSY causes people who would otherwise NOT have been in this danger and puts them there.

Kids who are not religious, by coming to mixed groups, they are not going down. But for religious kids who otherwise WOULD be separate, it is a whole 'nother story. That's the problem.

There is so much Kiruv that can be done, enough to spend your whole life at, without putting yourself in danger of ruining your Neshomah with guys. So if the choice exists to do Kiruv through NCSY or a safe approach, what's the Sheailah?


Supervision is not a realistic solution. It doesn’t work - experience shows that. When boys and girls mingle, they will become friends, exchange phone numbers and continue the connection, regardless of the level of supervision during official Kiruv sessions. Such supervision exists officially in many coed schools as well, and it doesn’t prevent problems there, either.

As far as the percentages, they are tragic. But we are not permitted, nor should we want to try to solve the problem in ways that Hashem has told us are wrong. That just makes us part of the problem, not the solution.


The only reason we do Kiruv is because it is the Ratzon Hashem - it makes Hashem happy.

So doing Kiruv in a way that makes Hashem unhappy defeats its whole purpose.

Like on Sukkos - there’s a Mitzvah to shake a Lulav, but if you steal a Lulav, it is not kosher.

So if the only Lulav you have available is a stolen one, can you ask: How will I shake a Lulav if I don't steal it? Therefore I have to steal it!

No. In such a case, Hashem does not expect you to shake a Lulav, since the only way to do it is through a sin. Ones rachmanah patrei - It's beyond your control - you are an ones.

So too here, if the only way you can be Mekarev X amount of people is by doing things that violate the will of Hashem, then Hashem doesn’t expect you, or want you, to do it.


The solution is to learn to do Kiruv the proper way. Rabbi Avigdor Miller was Mekarev thousands of boys and girls through his books without any programs at all, and the internet is a tremendous vehicle for Kiruv without any intermingling between boys and girls (you're on one such platform now). There are ways. And if not everyone will be reached through these methods; our responsibility, and G-d's expectations of us, end there. There is no way to predict which methods of Kiruv will be ultimately more successful, especially since much of this works through siyata d'shmaya (who would have thought that in the 70's the non-religious would be banging down the doors of Baal teshuva institutions?).

What is "necessary" is that we fulfill the Will of Hashem, and that necessity is the most important. The "necessity" of having boys and girls mingle in order to be Mekarev people takes a back seat to the necessity of the advisers not doing Aveiros.


The fact that problems don’t happen "all the time" isn't an answer. People don’t "always" fail a nisayon, but the fact that they have opportunity to do so, and that it sometimes does so, makes it a nisayon - and we want to stay away from them.

Kiruv is a wonderful thing, but the point is that you do not NEED to put yourself in these nisyonos to do Kiruv. There are plenty of ways to do Kiruv safely, and the need for Kiruv is so great that you will be able to spend all the time you allocated for it in a safe environment without worrying about whether you should run to NCSY.


The principle of chatoh bishvil sheyizkeh is only relevant where you need the aveirah in order to be mezakeh someone else with a Mitzvah. But you don’t need a mixed Kiruv group to me Mekarev someone - you can always go and be Mekarev someone of the same gender in a non-mixed environment and be mezakeh someone with the same Mitzvah. To be mekarev a girl is no more or less a mitzvah than to be mekarev a boy. And since the supply of same-gender Kiruv prospects is not going to be depleted, you don’t need the aveirah at all.
Second, the principle only works when upon doing the aveirah you are certain to be mezakeh someone with a Mitzvah. But you may or may not succeed in making your prospect frum at all. Kiruv is kind of like playing baseball --- you try for a home run all the time, but if you hit three out of ten you’re doing great. Neither the Gemora nor Tosfos says you can do an aveirah in the hope of maybe being mezakeh someone with a Mitzvah, and maybe not.

Third, even in a case where the Mitzvah is guaranteed, all it says is that you can violate a single aveirah a single time in order to be mezakeh someone with a Mitzvah. But it does not say that you can violate an aveirah over and over, accumulating many aveiros in order to be mezkeh someone else. The idea of Mitzvah Rabbah is clearly in order to tip the balance between the Zechus the other person gets and the Aveirah that you are doing. But multiple aveiros may accumulate to outweigh a Mitzvah Rabbah. And since you have to spend much time doing this aveirah in order to be mezakeh the other with the Mitzvah, you have no source that it is permitted.

For the record, there is a machlokes rishonim whether one big aveirah is worse than several small ones or vice versa. The difference manifests in a choleh on Shabbos who needs in order to be cured, let’s say, 5 kezaysim of meat. You have 5 kezaysim of non-kosher meat available, and he can eat them, thereby incurring 5 aveiros, or you can shecht a cow on Shabbos, getting one aveirah, but one that is greater than eating treif. There is a machlokes rishonim which is better.

There is much discussion about the topic of many small aveiros vs. one big one - and that machlokes is central to all of them.

In any case, there is a big difference between someone doing an aveirah, thereby being mezakeh someone else, versus doing many aveiros in the hope of maybe being mezakeh someone, when you don’t even need to do the aveiros in order to provide the same zechus to someone else.

On another level, there is also the idea that even Pikuach Nefesh is not permitted when it is done on a constant, hefker basis. As the Chazon Ish said - chilul Shabbos is permitted for pikuach nefesh, not bittul Shabbos. Meaning, pikuach nefesh must remain the exception. Once chilul Shabbos becomes the norm, and shmiras Shabbos the exception, even pikuach nefesh is not permitted. And so, institutionalizing the idea that anyone anywhere can always and does always perform this aveirah in order to be mekarev people is not the same as the case of Tosfos. You are not talking about chilul of tznius, you are talking about bitul of tznius.


The best course of action in a case of being mekarev someone of the opposite gender would be to find someone else to.. Find a Kiruv professional or, if he was frum once and is now off the derech, someone who is successful with such people (they are few and far between unfortunately) and work through them.

As far as responsibility goes, you have no responsibility to try to be Mekarev every boy that you have access to. Since there is the obvious boy-girl problems involved, you have no obligation to get involved. On the contrary.

As far as his future is concerned, remember that Hashem runs the world, and even though He knew that you would have access to your cousin, He still said girls should stay away from boys. Hashem runs the world. If you do His will, your cousin is in much better hands than if you try to second guess Him.


Whether making a non-frum person religious is considered pikuach nefesh depends. If you are going to consider this boy a Tinok Shnishbah, who is not responsible for his sins, then making him religious would not be Pikuach Nefesh according to the numerous Poskim who hold that only to save a Jew from willful sin is considered Pikuach Nefesh.

If you believe this to be Pikuach Nefesh, would you also say that it would be permitted to call this boy on Shabbos, or eat with him in McDonald’s if doing so is the only way to talk to him? This is what you are implying if you invoke the Pikuach Nefesh law. There is no middle ground.

There is also no halachic obligation for this girl to be mekarev every teenage boy she may have access to. There are plenty of girls available to be brought back, including those who have already shown interest in Judaism. They are available from Kiruv organizations. This boy has shown zero interest in Judaism at all. Being Mekarev her cousin under these circumstances involves much personal one on one talk and close association with a non-religious teenage guy. There would be lots of personal contact, in no organizational setting, with no supervision or other girls involved. Just one teenage boy and one teenage girl, and his boundaries as a non-religious guy are way beyond hers. He's also totally uninterested in religion at all at this point. There is absolutely zero obligation for a teenage girl to take that upon herself. Again. If she’s worried about Jewish neshomos, there are Neshomos who have already shown interest available, female ones, with unfortunately not enough people to reach out to them.


Refusing to talk to the opposite sex will not turn anyone off. At least no one reasonable. Every religion has their rules, and people understand that. Particularly mingling among the sexes is something that people understand is subject to religious restrictions. On the contrary, they will probably be more apologetic of themselves than upset with you. They will say "I'm sorry, I didn't realize". Nobody wants to step on the religious sensitivities of others. And nobody will begrudge you them. If you do it in a polite manner, they will understand.


If people think it’s rude that you will not go with them on a class trip on Shabbos (it’s college let's say) would you say that well, maybe I'm going to turn someone off so let me be Mechalel Shabbos?

If a friend of yours thinks its rude of you not to taste her newest cooking experiment that she is so proud of because you have these "religious hang-ups" - it's not kosher - would you eat treif in order not to "turn her off"?

We must always try to attract people to the Torah, but violating the Torah to do so is self-contradictory. So, too, you cannot be friends with guys even if they consider it rude, since that, too, is a violation of the Torah.


Labels: ,


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Negia Can Save You!

4:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


11:51 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home