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If one has a friend who's and atheist--someone who believes in evolution, big bang, etc--what methods can you use to convince him to abandon his old ways and start keeping some of the mitzvot?

Bible codes can be chalked up to coincidence. Proofs from the laws of the kashrut can be said to be generalized and not conclusively proven. Predictions prophesied can be retorted by saying that if you look for something in such a vast collection of texts anything could be found. If you try to suggest torah lectures for them to watch, they will say that they don't have an hour to listen to nonsense.

Granted atheism can be used as a device to rationalize not following the Torah or God, can any method in particular penetrate this particular mindset?

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Simply don't. A true friend should accept his friend for what he is. I don't like what you wrote at all. You state that someone is an atheist, if he believes in evolution? These two concepts do not mutually exclude each other. – mike Sep 18 '13 at 13:18
I thought atheism meant believing that no god exists. – Double AA Sep 18 '13 at 13:34
Related: – Isaac Moses Sep 18 '13 at 13:39
Is your friend disinterested (in which case Isaac's link should help), or hostile? – Monica Cellio Sep 18 '13 at 14:31
@MonicaCellio, I would actually submit that the disinterested/hostile distinction would be how to decide between the more active approach you wrote in response to the other question and the more passive approach I wrote here. I think that simply being an example of how you think people ought to be has potential to help even people who are hostile to Judaism be less so, if they love and respect you. – Isaac Moses Sep 18 '13 at 14:45

1 Answer 1

up vote 10 down vote accepted

One of my teachers at KBY told me the following story:

A chossid went to his rebbe and asked for a segula for his son to grow up to be a talmid chochom.
The rebbe said "Go, sit down, and learn."
"I'm sorry, rebbe, I didn't say that clearly enough. I'm looking for a segula for my son to be a talmid chochom."
"Go, sit down, and learn."
"But rebbe, I'm not asking for myself; I'm asking for my son!"
Finally, the rebbe explained, "Don't you understand? The most important thing you can possibly do to get your son to devote himself to learning Torah and becoming a talmid chochom is to do that yourself. Your example is the most powerful influence you have on him."

I think this principle applies to influencing friends, as well. The most powerful tool you have for inspiring others toward belief in God and observance of His Torah is to strengthen your own belief and observance as much as possible. You probably don't have a connection with your friends like a father has with his son, but to the degree that you are able to maintain a relationship of mutual love and respect, your friend will have a chance of being influenced by your example.

טוב לצדיק טוב לשכינו
Good for the righteous one; good for his neighbor.

Abbaye, Sukka 56b

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This answer would work well for two neighbors or co-workers that see each other frequently. However, for acquaintances, that converse once a month or so, a snapshot of a jew living righteously might not be enough. It would be greatly influential if something to think about was implanted in the non-observant jew that would make him start thinking objectively and considering all the schools of thought out there. – Ani Yodea Sep 18 '13 at 19:19
@Ramin, I really doubt that such a magic bullet exists. – Isaac Moses Sep 18 '13 at 19:28
Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi ( does just that but you have to first get the person to listen to him – Ani Yodea Sep 18 '13 at 20:02

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