The Rabbi’s Daughter


I cried watching this film.

Not just because it is about three daughters who choose to break with the chinuch they received from their parents, from the ways of the Torah. Not just because of the additional irony and tragedy that each one is the daughter of a major figure in the Israeli dati Leumi world. [Warning to potential viewers. The daughters dress at times like dropouts, not like their mothers.]

I cried because so much pain was visible and palpable, because it slides off the celluloid so easily that the viewer is left with no choice but to hold on to it.

It is a disturbing film, for all the questions it raises without answering them. How did it all come to pass? How widespread is the problem? Can it end differently? What possessed the parents to allow their pain and shame to become part of the public domain? Did they do it as a concession to their daughters, or did they hope for an even greater good? Could parents in the haredi world (where dropouts are no less prevalent) bare their souls the same way?

Many things did become clear. The parents were not bad parents, nor were the daughters bad daughters. There was no lack of love on either side. The commitment of the fathers was manifest; they were not shallow figures, deceiving the public. The adulation of the public was well-deserved.

Confusion and denial abounded. Parents were not fully in touch with how far off their daughters had drifted. The daughters showed more tentativeness about their thinking than firm resolve. Their husbands and boyfriends showed at times more understanding of the women’s unresolved doubts than the women themselves.

In this relatively short piece, the film as a medium displays its power to the skeptic. All of us are familiar with the phenomenon of off-the-derech kids. Yet more is conveyed by a wrinkled brow, a pause in midsentence, a facial expression changing from confidence to worry than in a page of prose.

Some scenes and lines are revelatory. The bond restored by the introduction of a grandchild. The challenge by a father: “So if you want to talk, when will you be ready to do so not on camera?” Or “You want us to accept you for whom you are. Can you accept us for who we are?” Or one woman’s reminder that she was the only one of eight children not faithful to the beliefs of her family, and that it was G-d Himself Who gives us free will.

And perhaps the most important line of all, the one that cuts to the chase of so much of the off-the-derech phenomenon. “So it isn’t really about rabbis – it’s about parents.”

Watching this will be doubly painful by the film’s end, because many of us will be forced to confront our own inadequacies.

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2 years 10 months ago

it says that you need a password to view the video. does anybody have an idea what the password is?

Emes L'Amito
2 years 10 months ago

Hmmm. Lots of people commenting with some harsh words about this piece, calling it unworthy of publication. I wonder if they noticed that 1637 people recommended the piece via Facebook. Presumably, some/most of them “recommend” when they like the piece, not hate it. Maybe all of them are ignorant and stupid.

Shades of Gray
2 years 10 months ago

“Maybe our acceptance of OTD people reflects a lack of awareness as to the importance and absolute imperative of keeping Torah”

The question is what does “acceptance” mean?

Two years ago, Hamodia had a supplement called “Kids of Hope”(Peasch 5770, available online), which included the following excerpt of an interview with the Noverminsker Rebbe:

“Speaking of those who are already off the derech…Some recommend unconditional love; others disagree.”

There are no absolutes.

On one hand, the door should always be open. On the other hand, if maintaining an open door can cause damage to other children in the family, then, unfortunately, he’s not welcome at home. You can’t expect a family to welcome a child who will be desecrating Shabbos.

These children should be given every opportunity to connect with their parents, and to be shown the love that parents feel for their children. But there are certain rules they have to obey and standards they have to meet. It’s not a one-way street.

The love is always there. But there can be cases and times when, unfortunately, these children are not welcome at home. Hopefully, it will only be a minority of cases. In most cases, a child [can be] shown by parents, “The door is still open for you, we still care about you, we love you….” It’s important to keep the lines of communication open.

There are no absolutes in this parashah. There are rules, but then there are exceptions. In general, in chinuch, there are no absolutes. You have to judge each situation individually.

“In conclusion, what divrei chizuk can the Rebbe offer to the many families that are suffering?”

What can I say? They have to try to maintain in some way, either personally or through mentors, communication with children who are already off the derech… and be mispallel for them, and ask for siyatta diShmaya. Tefillah is very important!

We should be zocheh that all our children be ehrliche children, b’siyatta d’Shmaya.

Joe Hill
2 years 10 months ago

“You really see no ethical distinction between stealing and say eating treif?”

Chardal: No. Both are violations of the Torah.

2 years 10 months ago

i am struck by the 2 streams of comments here that can be boiled down to essentially 1] an approach of sakol yisakel –they should be stoned 2] a resignation that people live their lives and make their own choices. this classic tearing kriya approach of course means the end of that child’s relationship with familyand maybe judaism—but from the tone of the commenters , one fears they would recommend thee same approach if the child shifted from haredi to mizrachi…
the 2nd approach is so modern , like every one gets to do their own thing, and you know quality control there’s always a bad apple but love it anyways—the problem is that opting out of a tora lifestyle is not like choosing another career choice—we have to see it as spiritual death….. but life and people are complicated…

chas veshalom that any of us need to decide what to do with the religiously different child–>young adult–> independent adult—> and their family….