Watch: Rav Gershon Edelstein On How to Deal with Those Who Leave the Fold





Avi Fishoff: The Rosh Yeshiva has stated clearly that when a child is behaving in a corrupt manner (off the derech) he needs to be treated only with “כבוד וידידות” – “respect and heartfelt warm friendship”

Rav Gershon shlyt”a agrees: DEFINITELY – DEFINITELY

Avi: We are following the method of the Rosh Yeshiva, but on your path of “respect and heartfelt friendship” there are a thousand questions…

When we go with “כבוד וידידות” as we should treat all of our children – or perhaps this child should be treated with even more “respect and heartfelt friendship” because he doesn’t feel good about himself… he doesn’t feel like other normal children…

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: YES – YES

Avi: So now the child is at home, but still doesn’t really feel these feelings of “כבוד וידידות” because he knows that he is a disappointment to his father and mother…

Rav Wagshall: They look down at him in a negative way

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: THAT’S NOT GOOD – NOT GOOD

Avi: I think that when the Rosh Yeshiva says that we need to treat the child with respect and heartfelt friendship, he doesn’t mean that we just ‘act’ that way, but that the child should actually feel it

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: OF COURSE – OF COURSE


The Rosh Yeshivah is very clear that parents of children acting out against the Torah must deal with them ONLY in a way of respect and warm admiration that will cause the child to TRULY BELIEVE AND FEEL in his essence that his parents really accept him as he is right now.


Avi: If a child goes with clothing that is different than the clothing of the family and the parents don’t buy the child his clothing, then the child knows that [they do not approve of him]…

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: OF COURSE – OF COURSE

Rav Wagshall: They can buy it for them??

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: Avada – There is no other way – there is no other choice

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: or perhaps try to explain that it is not worthwhile [to dress that way]… that the frum clothing is nicer…

Rav Wagshall: But what if the child is not accepting our opinion… and wants to dress like… like…

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: then there is no other way [but to buy it]

Avi: Is there a hallachic problem of “מסייע” (helping someone sin) by buying clothing that is not tzanua according to hallachah?

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: why would it be…

Avi: Because we are giving her money and she buys clothing against hallachah?

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: And beforehand she was dressing properly?

Avi: Certainly not.

Avi: But People think that if they will give money for things that are not allowed, then why does the child need to ever change his ways and come back? But I think it works the other way around…

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: Of course – the child knows what the parents really want…

Rav Lobenstein: They should supply the child with what he needs right now, and give it with a good heart and that wins over the child…

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: OF COURSE – OF COURSE

Avi: Can we actually buy not tzniusdik clothing [for her to wear] if she anyway has been dressing that way?

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: there is no other way [to properly deal with this situation]

Avi: what should their intentions be [when supplying her with clothing that is against the Torah]?

Rav Gershon shlyt”a:  That he should do teshuva!

Avi: So the parents should be mechaven lisheim shamayim (as a remedy to bring the child back to Yiddishkeit)

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: Yes

Avi: And there is no “לפני עור” (causing a person to sin)?

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: This is the only way to heal them – this is the beginning of the necessary process to bring them back… this is the medicine… it brings them back


The Rosh Yeshivah is clear that parents may supply dvarim assurim (ex: buying not tzniyussdik clothing) and there is no issue of “לפני עור” or “מסייע” since this is the MEDICINE to be mikarev them and bring them back to the right path.

* אנוסים – FORCED *

Avi: Does the Rosh Yeshiva look at these children as חולים (sick)… אנוסים (forced), חולה נפש (emotionally sick), חולה רוחני (spiritually sick)?

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: אנוסים – Forced to sin!

Avi: אנוסים? Everyone who sins is considered אונס (forced)?

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: רוח שטות – a wave of insanity [is controlling them now]

Avi: A bigger רוח שטות [then normal Yidden face]…

Rav Gershon shlyt”a:  Yes, it’s a רוח שטות – he does not understand [what he is doing] (HE CAN NOT CONTROL HIMSELF NOW)


The Rosh Yeshivah clearly says that we must look at people who go off the derech as “אנוסים!!!” who are hijacked and “forced” to sin, and they are NOT CAPABLE to make the reight decision and behave according to the Torah at this time in their life!


Avi: And the treatment to remedy this sickness is…

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: Yedidus! (a warm feeling of heartfelt friendship)

Avi: True friendship means that I accept you the way that you are right now [without trying to change you]

Rav Gershon shlyt”a:  YES – YES

Avi: Can you supply them?

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: YES – YES

Avi: Because supplying them causes them to 100% feel our honor and friendship.

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: CERTAINLY

Avi: and when we don’t supply them they don’t feel the honor and friendship

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: OF COURSE – OF COURSE


The Rosh Yeshivah clearly says that we should SUPPLY the children with their current needs in order to prove to them that we TRULY ACCEPT them so that they REALLY FEEL our respect and warm friendship.


Avi: Are they sometimes mentally unwell? Many of these kids cannot sleep, suffer from various anxieties, fears, they have many mental problems too.

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: YES, that is true

Avi: So aside from the spiritual challenges they may have psychological challenges as well

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: This is the cause for that – it’s together – one is linked to the other… [especially when] he feels he has no father or mother [that love him]

Rav Lobenstein: We have not yet found a boy who went off the derech and became a successful chiloni (not frum) – they are acting this way because they became twisted in the head

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: A רוח שטות (wave of insanity) –

Avi: they are “forced” for a few years? Can one be considered “אונס” (forced) for five years?

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: YES – YES

Avi: Until…

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: until he calms down… and stable… and be “שמח בחלקו” (be happy with his life)

Rav Lobenstein: And through the friendship and the calm in the house, when the parents stop knocking him and raging against him and it becomes calm in the house…

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: …he becomes “שמח בחלקו” (which is necessary for him to be chozer bitshuvah)


The Rosh Yeshivah states clearly that the path back to Yiddishkeit can only be once the child is fully accepted and loved by his parents and then becomes “happy” with his current not frum life – and then he will find his way back to incorporate Yiddishkeit into his life.


Avi: People have such a confusion… they feel that they need to yell at the child… they think: how can we allow our child to act this way [against the Torah]??

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: Shakes head no: Yelling is forbidden! Yelling is לפני עור (causing someone to sin!) – like hitting an older child [that the Rambam says is לפני עור]

Avi: So one may not deal with a son or a daughter in any way that pressures them…

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: yes – it damages them – it damages them

Avi: We openly see that it harms these kids!! People think that לשם שמים (to defend HaShem’s honor) they need to object to such behavior…

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: no – it’s “מזיק” (they are harming the child)


The Rosh Yeshivah states clearly that when you treat them with negativity, criticism or pressure to conform, you damage them & cause them to sin MORE and YOU are ‘oiver’ a ‘lav’ of “לפני עור!!!”


Rav Wagshall: What about the other children?

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: You need to explain to them that he is “forced” to act this way… He doesn’t have the ability to control himself… He is a “רחמנות” (unfortunate and broken person)

Avi: This child won’t be a bad influence on the other children in the home?

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: If the other children know that he is a רחמנות and that right now he doesn’t understand properly… he can’t think straight right now…

Avi: The other kids see how the father and mother buy gifts for him, that won’t make them jealous?

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: Buy gifts for them as well

Avi: Buy normal kosher things for the normal kids and…

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: YES – YES


The Rosh Yeshivah states clearly that when parents treat the child in the derech haTorah of embracing them with respect and warm friendship then he is not concerned about the other children being damaged, and you simply explain to them how to look at him.


Rav Lobenstein: Who has the authority to determine if a child needs discipline (punishment and consequences) so as to bring him to [correct his ways and] do the right thing?

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: It is well known and accepted that there is no concept of ‘smol docheh’ (discipline) anymore [for people who are off the derech]

Avi: Even for regular healthy kids?

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: You can discipline a normal healthy child if the kid understands and accepts that your reaction was proper, but if he doesn’t understand that then [you can’t].

Avi: What changed from all the previous generations?

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: Each generation is different…

Rav Wagshall: If there is lo aleinu a child who is mechallel Shabbos in the home – should the family still treat him with honor and friendship?

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: There is NO other way to deal with this

Avi: And we explain to the other children that this is the treatment for him that Hashem wants?

Rav Gershon shlyt”a agrees: YES, YES, YES… he has no seichel, it is a “רחמנות” on him… he has no seichel – he doesn’t understand [the ramifications of] what he is doing…


The Rosh Yeshivah states clearly that there is NO REJECTION AT ALL when it comes to kids off the derech – EVEN if the child is being MICHALLEL SHABBOS in the house! And we should explain to the other children that he simply has no self control at this time.


Avi: What can I say to strengthen the parents – this ‘derech’ is so hard for them…

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: Yes, it is very very difficult, but there is no other way. This [giving them honor and warm friendship] is the only possible way to deal with this.

Avi: The Rosh yeshiva wrote; this is the only remedy!

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: TRUE

Avi: But the Rosh yeshiva wrote that it is ‘sometimes’ hard [for parents] – what we find is that it is always hard for them

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: Later on it becomes easier… All new things are difficult

Avi: Otherwise it’s a full blown war in the home… to distance a child is a lot easier (no need for self control) – but to have such a boy living peacefully at home is much harder…

Avi: What if a boy brings a girl home – do we need to protest? Should we send them away?

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: NO – CHAS VISHALOM (G-d forbid)

Avi: But how can we possibly allow such a horrible sin to occur in the home of a chassidishe or litvishe or Yeshivah frum home?

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: THERE IS NO OTHER WAY

Avi: So we shouldn’t reject/distance them

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: THERE IS NO OTHER WAY

Avi: I know, but people feel that such a horrific sin… from the three biggest sins….

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: THERE IS NO OTHER WAY

Avi: we should not reject/distance them

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: THERE IS NO OTHER WAY

Avi: My name is Fishoff

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: [Shakes hand] You have a zchus… a zchus… a zchus… be matzliach


Avi: I work with a few hundred parents who have children that have left the derech. We spoke last time I was here that I follow the method of the Rosh yeshiva to deal with the child only using respect and warm friendship to draw him close


Rav Gershon shlyt”a: He is not at fault. He is an אונס (forced to sin) it’s a רחמנות on him

Avi: Every one of them are considered ‘forced’ to act this way?

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: None of them are at fault, they are considered a ‘תינוק שנשבה’ (a child who is kidnapped by the goyim and has no way to live a [proper Jewish life)

Avi: There are people who guide parents to say to their child that I respect and befriend you, but in my home you need to conform… wear a Yarmulka and dress properly

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: CHAS VESHOLOM! CHAS VESHOLOM! CHAS VESHOLOM! (Heaven forbid a parent to tell that to their child!)

Avi: Why?

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: Because it pushes them away and that is a sin of “לפני עור” (causing someone to stumble)

Avi: It’s considered [a ‘lav’ of] “לפני עור” to distance them?

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: YES! The parents need to accept them without ANY rules or conditions or boundaries

Avi: So to tell child that in my home [you need to conform…]

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: NO NO NO! NO LIMITATIONS AT ALL! They must make sure to bring them closer! Otherwise it is “לפני עור”

Avi: But people think that כבוד וידידות is outside – but not in my home

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: YOU CAN REPEAT IN MY NAME!

Avi: He has a few questions – can he ask?

Rav Lobenstein: The parents complain that the child walks around the house not confirming to the standards of “tzniyus”… or without a yarmulke in the house… is it important for the parents to say that it is important for us that you feel good and be comfortable in our home?

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: They are miskainim (not all there), they are “תינוק שנשבה”, they are not guilty – they are not at fault

Rav Lobenstein: The father says that we must show him that we don’t agree with him

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: NO, NO, NO! It’s אסור אסור אסור – forbidden to do that! If they do that then they are being עובר a לאו of לפני עור! (causing someone to sin!)

Rav Lobenstein: What if the child wants his friends to come over to the house, if the parents don’t allow it then he will feel that his parents don’t really accept him either. So what should we do about the friends?

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: Be mikarrev them as well

Rav Lobenstein: One of the hard questions that we get is that a father says that he was walking with his child on Shabbos and this gave him a very good feeling. Suddenly the child took out a cigarette to smoke! Can the father ignore the behavior or must he protest the chillul Shabbos?

Rav Gershon shlyt”a: NO – NO! It’s ‘assur’ to protest!

{ Israel News Bureau}



  1. “Rav Lobenstein: We have not yet found a boy who went off the derech and became a successful chiloni (not frum) – they are acting this way because they became twisted in the head”

    This shows a tremendous lack of research and familiarity on the part of Rav Lobenstein.

    It would be patently false to say that nobody leaves the fold and finds success.

    And it does not help anybody to spread falsehoods like these.

    • I hear.
      They can become successful in business. They can definitely make a few dollars but that doesn’t necessarily make them a success in life. Someone who is constantly fighting the system doesn’t leave any time for advancing in serving our creator. We were put here to serve Hashem, not our buddies on the street corner.

      • Read his comment cafefully…

        “became a successful chiloni”.

        He didn’t say “became a successful yirei shamayim”. He was very clear about what he meant; that nobody OTD has seen scucces in the non frum world. And his statement is erroneous.

        Additionally, you seem to be saying that the one perceived success in the non frum world can be if they “make a few dollars”. And then you proceed to knock down that straw man that you built.

        They can become doctors, anthropologists, scientists, financial consultants and therapists as well as anything else. They can lead a fulfilling life while being a productive member of society (regardless of what their bank account holds).

        That said, we know the truth, that their successes in this world are temporary and that we are living for the next world.

        So we should do whatever we can to bring them back to the fold so that they can reap benefits in Olam Hazeh and Olam Haba.

        But we should not misconstrue the truth or the facts on the ground. Being dishonest or hiding from an inconvenient truth is counterproductive.

  2. It is high time our gedolim finally give us clear guidance as this issue is becoming more relevant as we get deeper into this galus. We have a neighbor that has had success following this Daas Torah and their child BH came back.

  3. Bear:
    I think Rabbi Lobenstein meant to say:
    Nobody leaves the fold “to” become a successful chiloni, there’s usually a story of rejection or pain that is the true underlying reason that they searched for something else.
    It is a one word change.
    On a written article you can judge every word, but in a situation like this, you need to realize that a word can come out wrong and you need to try to hear the whole message and understand what he MEANT to say.
    His point was – it isn’t the merely the danger of the OUTSIDE world that can pull our children away – it is how they are treated in our INSIDE world that lays the foundation of the so called rebellion.

  4. A child who r”l has not responded to the regular way we are ‘mechanech’ the rest of our children, – and we’ve tried EVERYTHING we know (with the guidance of rabbonim & professionals) – what other options are there?

    This a Yiddishe Neshomo!  We cannot just uproot them and leave them for… r”l. 

    We must embrace every child with tremendous Ahavas Yisroel regardless of what they do.  This will ultimately bring him/her back to their family and community. 

  5. Hi a guten moed.
    Thanks for printing this article, it is so true, and that’s why it is so strong and powerful.
    This precious kids are so not bad, something very bad happened to them, and by staying connected with them and by giving all there needs they need when they are in the matzav they are, we could see how not bad they are just NOT ABLE to keep any mitzvos as of now.
    The last thing they want is to cost pain for there parents, they are the kids who really die for there parents exceptince, but it’s so so so painful for them to see that they cost pain for there parents so they need to protect them self’s and to brush away there guilt so they become atiest, they fight, they are sad mad and frustrated, so the avoda of us parents is not to become emotionally effected of there behavior, we need to see straight in to there pure nashama and see they are lachtiga kids who for some reason can’t behave now as they should, and we as parents are here for our kids, to provide them with all there needs, no matter what it is.
    Avi Avi you are the man, you are the one who saved our family, go Avi go.

    • These kids
      Their not there
      Cause… caused not cost..
      If you have access to matzav, please access a dictionary as well. Today, spelling could be accessed through Google….frustrating to read.
      I know,English was not taught into the higher grades as in the secular world…but we can all learn…no excuse today. We have access to read and write properly.

  6. Unfortunately we tried consequences and therapists etc etc it only made things worse. This approach brings shalom to the house. Within a week of us changing our mindset and how we dealt with the kids, it was like someone let the air out of the balloon and the stress level in the house dropped dramatically. This works but it can be a long process, love your kids, accept them for who and what they are and you will see yeshuos.

  7. When we encounter a non-frum person in the street – of course we treat them with respect and dignity.   When we do kiruv work and deal with yidden that are very far from being שומר תורה ומצות of course we treat them with much love and respect.

    Why wouldn’t we do the same for our own child (or community member) who for some reason (that only הקב”ה knows) rejected everything she was thought – and all conventional methods of dealing with her have failed???

    ומבשרך לא תתעלם

  8. This method is custom designed for kids in pain. Avi has a heart of gold and if your lucky enough to be his talmid, he will guide you every step of the way. He saved our child and our family, and we are forever greatfull.

  9. Let me tell you, it was very weird for me to be buying a miniskirt “for shabbos” for my daughter in the mall with her, but BH she keeps shabbos and skirts are a bit longer now. BH I was told to do so! obviously there was much siyata d’shmaya , therapy, and hard work on her part to grow but in the beginning it sure was hard to not want to lock her out of the house! and thats because it was hard to understand that she was an oneis who could not control herself.

  10. We know many who were sussesful with this mahalach and the Rav reaffirming these ways of treading our children makes it eaiser for the parents who are dealing with it to do the right thing.

  11. We have been working with this mehalech as well. Our son is emotionally much better and much more respectful towards Yiddishkeit than before. For us, too, it has been enormously helpful to have someone to guide us and provide some insight. Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky has also provided a written haskamah to R’ Avi, and the Novominsker Rebbe is also supportive. While there may be other opinions, as with many important issues, this should be left to the gedolim famiiar with the issue to decide, who are qualified to rule on dinei nefashos, not lesser rabbonim. In the end, each family is instructed to totally follow their posek as to the details.

  12. My family has never had to deal with this inyan bli ayin hara, so I can confidently say I’m pretty ignorant on the subject. But from what I can see, the Rosh Yeshiva Shlita’s mahalech of showing care and love towards the child whatever the circumstances may be, is relying on the fact that the child doesn’t want to hurt his parents, and he/she wants to impress the parents. So as long as the parents continue to show love, the child will decide on his/her own to come closer to yiddishkeit so as not to pain his/her parents. But since this doesn’t address the root of the problem, won’t it cause the child to become frum superficially, that way it’s a win-win for the child? He/she rids him/herself of guilt from hurting his/her parents, and he/she gets to “enjoy” the secular lifestyle on the side. And, could it be that some teens just aren’t as emotionally attached to their parents as others, and instead of feeling pangs of guilt, they will just use it to their advantage?
    Again, these are just simple questions that arose in my mind as I read this article. I’m not chas veshalom questioning the Rosh Yeshivas judgement, I’m just trying to get a deeper understanding of the mehalech.
    Thank you.

  13. Love alone is baloney
    I watched parents who give big time love to their kids and the kids became Otd. I watched carefully such families with love and noticed something very interesting. When parents disrespect rabbis and knock one rabbi over another the kids go off. Love alone is not the answer. Respect your local orthodox rabbi.

    • Thank you. My thoughts exactly. I’m surprised Matzav even let your comment go thru. They are so farkofed to the political correct left wing mehalech that they generally censor/delete out such comments that speak the real truth.

  14. It all depends at what age kids we are dealing with. I can tell you I would not allow any wrong friends to come in my house ever. I would buy a big dog and keep all the bums out. I would disinherit any kid off the derech and rather leave my wealth to a Yeshiva. And if I had a kid wearing baggy crazy pants it would be cut up in middle of the street.

  15. To anonymous 11:31: This has nothing to do with the child impressing the parents. The child has already fully left the fold and hopefully will make a gradual return on his own. The point is to retain a good relationship so that the child does not feel rejected and deteriorate further and can more easily work on his issues. This is really a very partial explanation, because the issue is complex, but I’m just pointing out that it’s not how you describe it.

  16. To anonymous 1:03 am. Your point is well taken (respect rabbis), but it only reflects the cases you observed. I know of many cases of parents who did respect rabbanim and this still occurred. There are other factors, as is known to those who have studied this in large scale.

  17. Anonymous 1:18,
    Thank G-D, as a parent, I don’t suffer from this phenomenon. But all I can say after reading your post regarding disinheriting your child and getting a big dog, is that you have major issues that you need to work on. It should have been worked out before you parented a child, but hey it’s never too late. Happy Moed.

  18. I don’t think it is correct to say that any person who is raised in a frum home and goes ‘off” has psychological problems. That sort of thinking reminds me of the old USSR treating political dissidents as mental patients.

  19. B”H

    Baruch Hashem we are working w Reb Avi and this mehalech.
    Nissim is the only way to describe the improvement in our relationship w our “OTD” kid.
    To those who think they know anything about this issue… I also thought I did. Learn more from people who have success. If in family of 10 kids 1 is OTD… you blame the parents? Clearly something happened to effect the 1 in negative way.
    If you have a child that is “OTD” you must reach out to Avi Fishoff along w your Rav/Das Torah.

  20. I only skimmed this. But it is frightening what a pro that guy was at putting words into Rav Edelstein’s mouth. If people beginning quoting and interpreting and attributing what Rav Edelstein, in fact, DID NOT ACTUALLY SAY, I will become more skeptical than I already wish I didn’t have to be about quotes from Gedolei Yisrael.

  21. Brilliant 100-times over! Don’t over-complicate it: “There is no other way.” And this applies far beyond frum children going off the derech. The concept of “tough love” is over used.

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