The Baal Teshuva High is a combination of the following:
- Enthusiasm about ones learning.
- Desire to share that learning with others whether they wish to hear it or not.
- Belief that ones knowledge as far greater that it actually is.
This combination, while beautiful and inspiring, can be annoying and a turn off to those around us. Since my initial learning was partially inspired by Chassidic Rabbis, I was full of Chassidic stories. I distinctly remember my wife (then girlfriend) telling me to please limit myself to only one Chassidic story per date. When I look back, I have no idea what I was talking about. I don’t even know that many Chassidic stories to be able to tell more than one in a sitting, but apparently I did then, or at least thought that I did.
This brings me to the topic at hand… Rebuke.
- Will he listen to what I’m saying and immediately stop eating it?
- Will he listen to what I’m saying, continue to eat, but maybe later change his ways?
- Will he think I’m a condescending jerk and stop meeting up with me for lunch?
If you get yes’s to 1 & 2, you should gently point out to him that there is a kosher food at a near by store and you’ll gladly treat him to lunch if he wants to feed his current sandwich to the birds…. Or something like that. If you only get a yes to question 3, keep your mouth shut.
What can you do then?
You can still do several things. You can ask him to go to a class with you. You can invite him over or to go somewhere for Shabbas. You can pray that G-d brings him clarity. You can also pray that G-d gives you the wisdom to know what to do in these situations.
My main point is, if the person is not at a point in their life to hear what you have to say, then maybe they will be in the future. If you rebuke them and turn them off, they may cut you out of their lives and then even if they ever reach a point where they’d be open to learning, you won’t be there to help them.
Choose your words carefully and remember that the best way to inspire someone isn’t with words… it’s to become an inspiration.