Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

10 Adar I 5763 - February 12, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Tips to successfully handle your Moment of Kiruv.

by Rabbi "W"

As we go about our daily lives we can find ourselves in "A Moment of Kiruv." A secular Jew asks us a question. A business acquaintance searching for something "more" in life. A friend who seems open to hearing about Judaism.

How will we respond? The person's life and those of his or her children and great-grandchildren can be influenced by what we say. There is no on else around and they trust and feel comfortable with us. It can happen anyplace, anytime.

In this column we will give you tips on how to handle your "Moment of Kiruv." You weren't expecting it. You are not a kiruv professional. But you do not want to lose the opportunity. With the tips we will give you, and your own innate talents and personality, you can handle you Moment of Kiruv with great success!


All those involved in kiruv, whether for a moment or as professionals, fear rejection. Perhaps they won't like what I have to say? This fear is, of course, part of any human endeavor. But in kiruv, even kiruv for a moment, we simply need to try anyway because the stakes are so high.

In fact, almost every Jew is interested in knowing more about his or her Judaism. Their souls are literally crying out for it. They may have some defenses to protect themselves from a feeling of ignorance or inferiority, but if you approach them nicely, its rare that you will get a real rejection.

The concept of anti-religious Jew is, with a few notable exceptions, a fabrication of the media. In Israel, for example, where the anti-religious Israeli is considered the norm, one study found that some 75 percent fast on Yom Kippur, 77 percent mark Shabbos in some way, 98 percent have mezuzas on their front door and 89 percent want their children to be at least somewhat observant! They may be ignorant, but they are not anti-religious. (The few anti- religious ideologues are unfortunately concentrated in the media and the government.) Outside of Israel, the situation is much better. There is more ignorance, but they have had much less anti-religious brainwashing and are even more open to real Judaism.

When we approach a Jew about Judaism we just need to remember that he is really desperately interested in what we have to say.

Moment Of Kiruv Tip 1: The Key

The key in virtually all kiruv opportunities is to smile.

People are drawn after those who smile. If you are smiling, they figure you must have something to smile about. If you are not, yet, someone who habitually smiles, at least smile when talking to them. They will feel that you like them -- which you probably do.

Even more importantly, they will feel that you respect them. Why is this important? Secular Jews have been taught by the media that religious Jews, chareidim in particular, hate them. That we look down on them and don't even consider them Jewish. When you smile at a secular Jew, you show that you consider them to be a "human being" worthy of respect.

At a deeper level they, in many cases, really consider you to be G-d's representative. Which, of course, you are. So when you smile at them, they feel G-d is smiling upon them and that G-d likes them. (Needless to say, you do not need to smile upon them if the wrong message would be conveyed or if they are in the midst of an activity that G-d does not approve of. This still leaves a lot of other time for smiling at them.)

If they feel G-d likes them, it is much easier for them to begin seeking Him out.

Moment Of Kiruv Tip 2: Praise

Find out what mitzvos they do keep. These can be mitzvos like lighting candles, having a mezuza, or even saying Kaddish on a yahrtzeit. Praise them for their mitzvos. "Really? That's wonderful!"

Actually, each mitzvah is wonderful. It is an affirmation that they believe in G-d and Judaism. Tell them that: "You know, each mitzvah that you do shows your connection to G-d and to Judaism." If they say, "Well, we just kind of do it out of habit," you can say "Yes, but you never stopped. That shows a real depth of commitment."

At this point they will feel very good about their mitzvah and themselves, and deservedly so.

Next week: Relax.

All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.