Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Sad And Tragic Suicide Of A Formerly Chasidic Woman

A lot of people are talking about the 50 year old mother of 7 girls who decided a number of years ago to abandon Torah observance and recently committed suicide. Some thoughts... 

First of all, the entire story from beginning to end is a tragedy. 

Second, it is worth noting that it is quite common for people who went off the derech to commit suicide. There are statistics about this and the organizations that help these people adapt to a secular lifestyle are well aware of this phenomenon and are trying to figure out ways to end it.

There are obviously many reasons and each case is different but it is safe to say that very often a person goes off the derech due, in part, to emotional instability. It is NOT [and people hotly contest me on this but I am still convinced] because they found some hole in Judaism and Torah and decided that it is not true and went on their happy way. They might think this themselves but nobody has succeeded in furnishing ONE PROOF that G-d doesn't exist. In the absence of compelling logic there are obviously psychological factors involved as well. Since they are unstable from the outset, when they reach crisis proportions they take their lives רח"ל. 

One last point: Everything we do is in order to make our lives better. That is why we go to work, go to the dentist, get married, have children, buy [or more commonly - lease] a car, buy a house, eat lunch etc. etc. 

When someone involves himself in a life of crime on some level he believes that this will make his life better. He thinks that if he robs a bank then he will have lots of money and be happy. But the reality is that crime doesn't pay and in the end he lives in fear, ultimately gets caught and lands in jail. 

A man thinks that if he has an affair it will make him happy but then he gets caught [almost everybody does at the end] and loses - his wife, children, home, and many other things. It just doesn't pay [besides being an aveirah].

I have seen MANY people go off the derech, some of whom I know intimately and deeply. I have yet to meet a person who is HAPPIER after he abandons observance. Are there such people? Maybe. But my experience has been that people are always less happy afterwards. Now they can finally watch movies [even on Shabbos] or wear jeans and no kippah or a short skirt [רח"ל] but it is not really such a thrill after a while. What do they lose? Almost EVERYTHING. They lose their families [as did the recent suicide], their meaning in life, the many pleasures that organized religion affords [such as a solid communal structure, smachot etc. etc.] and much more.

That can also lead a person to suicide. 

I have known many many people who abandoned their secular lifestyle to become religious and all of them were much happier after becoming observant than before. Why? Because now they have meaning, a solid community, build large families which are a source of great nachas and have a structure than consistently gives them pleasure - Shabbos, Yom Tov, Smachot, learning, davening, singing etc. etc. 

To summarize: People go off the derech very often thinking that things will be better for them on the other side but all too often are severely disappointed. There is almost NO GRASS on the other side. Yes, being secular means that one need not control his lusts and desires, he may eat what he wants when he wants, he may dress as he pleases and much more, but the human spirit doesn't need that that in order to be happy. On the contrary, a life without authentic meaning is quite depressive for anybody who thinks about it.

I conclude with a quote from a 20th Century Jewish thinker:

When man abandons G-d, G-d is not alone. 

Man is.