Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Seeing is Believing

Gavriel Horan

When Rabbi Chaim Jachter, a Gemara rebbi in New Jersey, confronted the doubts of his own star pupil, he knew he had to provide answers — with a comprehensive book on emunah

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

 Mishpacha image

“For many, observance is a mile wide, but an inch deep.” Rabbi Chaim Jachter decided it was time to put down some solid answers (Photos: Amir Levy)

D avid was bright, studious, and highly scrupulous in mitzvah observance, one of the best kids in his 11th grade Gemara class in the Torah Academy of Bergen County. And so, when he asked to speak to his rebbi — Rav Chaim Jachter — in private after class, the veteran high school rebbi was completely unsuspecting of what was about to occur. David handed Rabbi Jachter a stack of papers and with the utmost seriousness, told his rebbi that the packet contained 25 questions about the Torah that had been bothering him.

“I don’t know how I can commit if I don’t have answers to these questions,” he said. Rabbi Jachter was caught off guard. Although he knew that it was not uncommon and natural for high school students to have doubts, he couldn’t believe one of his star pupils was staying up at night with doubts in emunah. But what surprised him even more was that when he read the questions, he realized that he himself didn’t have compelling answers on his fingertips to many of them.

As a dayan, get administrator, congregational rabbi, high school rebbi, teacher, and lecturer in over 200 venues over several decades, Rabbi Jachter’s varied experiences placed him in contact with Jews from across the ideological spectrum. But David’s questions eventually brought Rabbi Jachter to the conclusion that something major was missing from the educational curriculum. He noticed that too many people were what he calls “socially Orthodox” — frum by default because that’s just what the community does.

"Strengthening emunah is a huge way to tip the scales. It’s a game changer”

“Most lack a sophisticated understanding of why Yiddishkeit makes sense,” he says. “We keep mitzvos because we are part of the team. But for many, observance is a mile wide, but an inch deep. And from my experience, this is an issue across the board in all frum communities — from chareidi to Modern Orthodox, chassidish to Sephardi. We tend to think that people will get emunah by osmosis, but we need to truly give them clarity. Emunah has to be taught, not merely caught. Strengthening emunah is a huge way to tip the scales. It’s a game changer.”

After much research, consideration, and discussion with gedolei Torah, he came to the conclusion that emunah should be addressed directly with students instead of assuming they will pick it up by osmosis. His years of research to find adequate answers to questions such as David’s culminated in a recently published book, Reason to Believe: Rational Explanations of Orthodox Jewish Faith (Koren Publishers). The book presents countless pieces of evidence for the existence of G-d and the Divine origin of the Torah, sourced from the Gemara, Rishonim, and Acharonim, in addition to archaeology, physics, history, and ethics. Rabbi Jachter is committed to showing his students, congregants, and readers that G-d’s existence and Yiddishkeit are not only logically and historically true, but also lead to the most meaningful and rational lifestyle possible. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 706)

Related Stories

Seeing Is Believing

Chani Juravel

Many years ago, I was counseling a young boy living an unbelievably dismal, dejected life. I would c...

Your Body’s Keeper

Yael Schuster

Protecting your health is not just a lifestyle option, but a mitzvah. And that idea hasn’t been lost...

The Best Medicine

Shimon Breitkopf with Shlomi Gil

Former Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski agreed to a rare interview in the wake of his latest initiati...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
What’s in a Name?
Shoshana Friedman “What does Writer X have to say this week?”
Atonement — Fake and Real
Yonoson Rosenblum White confessionals and faux rituals
Four Walls Coming Full Circle
Eytan Kobre All the while, there’s been a relationship in the offing...
And Yet We Smile
Yisroel Besser We are the nation that toils to be happy at all costs
Out of This World
Rabbi Henoch Plotnick Dirshu Hashem b’himatzo — we are in Hashem’s company now...
Steven and Jonathan Litton
Rachel Bachrach The co-owners of Litton Sukkah, based in Lawrence, NY
Tali Messing
Moe Mernick Tali Messing, engineering manager at Facebook Tel Aviv
Sick Note
Jacob L. Freedman “Of course, Dr. Freedman. Machul, machul, machul”
Avoiding Health Columns Can Be Good for You
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Only one reliable guide for good health: our Torah
Endnote: Side Notes
Riki Goldstein Most Jewish music industry entertainers have side profes...
Me, Myself, and Why
Faigy Peritzman Where there’s no heart and no love, there’s no point
Can’t Do It Without You
Sarah Chana Radcliffe When you step up to the plate, you build your home team
Eternal Joy
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz The joy of Succos is the fruit of spiritual victory
The Appraiser: Part III
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer Make sure your child knows his strengths
Hidden Special Needs
Rena Shechter You won’t see his special needs, but don’t deny them
Dear Wealthy Friend
Anonymous There’s no need for guilt. I am truly happy for you