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Chapter 6: How Fast Should I Go

          If you choose to investigate Judaism by taking on some level of observance, beware: the greatest mistake you can make is not pacing yourself properly.

          If you attempt diving in before you can swim, you're in trouble.  On the other hand, if you procrastinate before starting your climb to the next level of learning and observance, you're likely never to progress and even run the risk of losing the Judaism you have attained.

          Each individual getting involved has his or her own unique pace setting.  No two people are exactly alike and it would be impossible to give a standard "from non-observance to observance" timetable.

          So how can you tell what the right speed is for you?  Ask yourself:

          *  Do I have a Rebbe to guide me?

          *  Do I Know people who have made a successful transition to observant Judaism and with whom I can share experiences?

          *  Do I know enough about what I am doing?

          *  Am I comfortable doing it?  (As a general rule, if the previous three points are in place, you'll be comfortable with what you're doing or what you are about to do.)

          If you can answer yes to all the above, you're ready to go to the next step.  If you can't answer yes to all the above, prepare yourself so you can.

          Ask your Rebbe which specific mitzvahs (observances) to undertake and then go and work on them.  By work we mean study and action.  Learn about the particular mitzvah (observance) and then try to do it perfectly - the feeling you will have is indescribable.

          You should only work on specific mitzvahs at any one time so as not to be overwhelmed.

Be sure your getting joy as you do each mitzvah, both from a genuine feeling of accomplishment on your part and from the knowledge you have done the will of the Creator.  This joy will be the greatest impetus to your further growth.

          For some a little diary is a great help; you can look back and see how much progress you have made. 

          A time-schedule for observance is a little tricky - certainly don't set one for yourself without consultation with your Rebbe.  As always, talk to peers who have made a successful transition so that you can compare, contrast and thereby get insights into your development.

          Remember, Judaism is for your entire life. The time you spend preparing yourself for it, is an important investment in your future and your family's future. Take your time and be on solid ground.

          On the other hand, you don't necessarily have to hit bedrock before starting to build.

          The "all or nothing" syndrome is a dangerous approach and an easy cop-out.  It goes something like this:  “Judaism is great but I'm just not ready for it yet and it would be hypocritical to be somewhat observant without accepting everything.”

          In fact, the Torah addresses this type of individual by essentially telling us:  "No one can be perfect but we have to try our best."  The bottom line is this:  the Torah clearly is not an all or nothing proposition in the practical sense.

          Take one mitzvah at a time, get comfortable with it and move on to the next rung of observance.

          The story of the tortoise and the hare is very much in place here.  The tortoise won the race by plodding forward.

          The lesson for us all is "PLOD AND GO FORWARD!"

 

Last updated on: 12/14/2017
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