Baalei Teshuva / Life / Philosophy

Can you ignore your past?

Two German personal development Youtubers are having beef. In the Youtube language, BEEF means QUARREL. 
I don’t want to go into all the details of the present beef. However, one of the two Youtubers published an ebook where he writes about his rather strange idea of how the world works. He claims that the world is evil and that everybody around you just wants to bash or destroy you. The guy had a difficult childhood and is now telling people how one can still become successful in life. You find a lot of those guys on Youtube these days but most of them are anything but successful. 
What this Youtuber proclaims is to ignore or even wipe out your past. He, for instance, used to be fat and only played computer games. This was his life. Somehow he changed everything and is now a vegan guy with muscles and a small Youtube channel. In his ebook, he apparently bashed fat people as well as Let’s Players. 
When I heard that a personal development Youtuber is telling his audience to wipe out their past, I couldn’t believe it. At the same time, this idea reminded me of something going on within the Ba’al Teshuva movement. The idea to ignore or wipe out one’s past is nothing new.
Can we really get rid of our past and if so, how does it work?
Lets say that a Jew was raised in a secular lifestyle and he doesn’t know anything else. Suddenly he becomes a Ba’al Teshuva and it doesn’t matter whether he is turning to the haredi or to the Mizrachi (national religious) world. 
As soon as this particular Jew starts his Teshuva (repentance) process, he will automatically meet other people. People just like himself. He will start to change his life. Have new friends, a new environment and maybe even a new neighbourhood. His entire life is going to change slowly and he develops new values. Before he maybe liked to party, eat non-kosher food and do whatever he felt like. G-d didn’t play a role in his life. With the Teshuva process, life starts to look different.
I have met Ba’alei Teshuva who were ashamed of their past and didn’t want to talk about it. They probably thought that only the memory could drag them down. Who knows? Maybe they start missing certain things as soon as they talk about their former life.
So, is it possible to wipe out the past?
On the one hand yes, because we all have to focus on the future. How we improve and how we find the life which makes us happy. On the other hand, we simply cannot get rid of our past. Never, as it always follows us wherever we go. It all depends on how we look at our past. If we simply accept it and say: “Hey, this is my past but now I am a different person” – or if we are nothing but ashamed. The first solution is the best and causes you to concentrate on your future without any negative feelings.
None of us can change the past and even if our previous life wasn’t as great as we wished it could have been, there is no reason to jump onto people who don’t follow our path. We cannot expect everyone to do what we do. Even though we try to convince others. We all have to accept that every Jew is different and not everyone is willing to do Teshuva. We think that our way is the greatest of all ways but someone else thinks that his life is just as good. So, there is no reason to bash him.

6 thoughts on “Can you ignore your past?

  1. I pray to G-d you will not take me away from your blog which I read every day and enjoy very much. As you are Jewish and did Teshuva, I am a Christian and did repent when I was 35. I had been a Catholic because I was born in Spain in 1943 and all in my family (spain was a politically Catholic country under Franco) and where I lived were Catholics. My family came to live in America in 1956 and we went to live in a mainly Jewish neighborhood. Until then I did not even know there were Jewish people living, I thought they had disappeared in the first century of CE. Imagine my shock to find myself in a Jewish neighborhood, and naturally I became friends with the children of my age and found out they were normal everyday people just like me (My very, very best friend whom I call brother and he calls me brother is Jewish), but none of us was really religious, just what we had been born into. With the passage of time I became agnostic and eventually atheist. When I was 35 something happened to me which brought me back to G-d and I am very deeply in love with Him. My last name is Navarro and if you look at Sephardic last names you will find that it is possible my ancestors were Sephardic, but it is not an absolute certainty. The reason for my writing you is that this post resonates with me to such a degree that I found it necessary to let you know how much I agree with you about our past always being with us and how wrong it is to try to forget it or to be afraid of remembering what we were before Teshuva or repentance

  2. B”H

    I did Teshuva?

    Maybe but, as a matter of fact, I am doing this every day. Life is a struggle and sometimes I succeed and there are days when I am lazy. 🙂

    As you are from Spain: I really recommend reading

    the greatest book about the Spanish Inquisition. The author is Benzion Netanyahu, the father of Israel’s Prime Minister. Benzion Netanyahu passed away not too long ago. He was known for his intense research on Spanish Jewry of the Middle Ages. He wrote several great books about the history of the Jews in Medieval Spain.

    Thanks you for sharing your past!

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