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This question is assuming that there is a prevalence of extreme views, especially since the age of the internet, and particularly in the last 10-15 years. It is not a blanket statement against all secular ideology or all views, more to do with when people specifically become possessed beyond the norm, in a way that brings them away from Torah views of Divine Providence, trust in Hashem, ahavat Yisrael (and isolating them from friends and family) and other mitzvot like don lechaf zechut, and can apply to both secular and "frum" people alike.

Please vote to close if you feel this is off topic, I can hear such an argument. I don't want to be controversial. It has been my experience though and I would love advice, especially advice that doesn't require one to be judgemental, or not kind. Halachic advice is the priority.

Once upon a time, the advice would be to stay away, and some people are still lucky enough that they are able to stay away without much effort (although simply staying away can be considered a cop-out, we are all responsible for each other).

Yet nowadays it's become very prevalent that many people buy into secular ideologies in quite an extreme, often combative/isolating way, e.g. vehement adherents of political ideologies - barely a month goes by that we don't find out one of our friends strongly believes and advocates for something extreme, including what appear to be conspiracy theories, and ideologies that are not provable but taken as fact.

Given that this seems to be happening a lot nowadays, what advice do people have for dealing with it? When at someone's house and one feels they are locked into a dangerous ideology, how do we talk to them? Do we smile and nod and avoid stirring the waters? Do we try to engage?

Main question: How do we deal with this while maintaining ahavat yisrael in heart and deed, being don lechaf zechut, and having kavod habriut and derech eretz?

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  • Some conspiracy theories could be true, but in the end Hashem decides how things go, and it is not (completely) in our hands. So you can tell them not to get too deeply involved in it or stressed about it, but instead pray to Hashem that it should go well.
    – Mijmij
    Commented Feb 10, 2023 at 11:55
  • @Jim that's why I used the word possessed. Talking about people who go beyond the norm, the norm which you've described well in your comment
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Feb 10, 2023 at 13:16
  • How would this be different than dealing with someone who is ke-Tinok she-Nishbah?
    – Tamir Evan
    Commented Feb 10, 2023 at 14:40
  • @TamirEvan an argument can be made both ways. It's very similar, but it's also different. It might very will well be that someone who is not a tinok shenishba has become possessed by these ideologies, from my experience. They know Torah well. (also there's the complication that we are all tinkokei shenishba)
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Feb 10, 2023 at 14:42
  • 1
    How is this on topic?
    – Double AA
    Commented Feb 12, 2023 at 0:49

2 Answers 2

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I've dealt with a person like that in the past (who believed conspiracies to the point that it was denying Hashem's dominion of the world, chas veshalom), and I tried to approach it not through convincing them they were wrong, because a) they probably wouldn't listen and b) I didn't have hours to convince them, but instead through laying out the groundwork of why I believe they are wrong. Like, I didn't say "I don't think that the shadowy elites that control the world released covid to inject us with vaccines with micro-antennas that can communicate with the new 5G network". Instead, I talked about how in the end everything that happens in the world is because Hashem wants it to happen, so I don't really care about the whys - I know that Hashem wanted there to be covid, Hashem wanted there to be a vaccine, and if Hashem didn't want either one, they would disappear immediately. The strategy was basically to change the lens they were viewing things through from a lens that didn't involve Hashem, to a lens that realized Hashem is the creator of the world, EVERYTHING that happens is because he wants it, and he is the only one with the power - everyone else is merely pawns in his hands.

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I don't think this question is Torah related, but more; how do I get someone to agree with my beliefs if I think their beliefs are extreme? I agree with Kovy Jacob's answer that one must understand that all is from Hashem.

I would suggest the following book which is extremely effective https://www.amazon.com/Nonviolent-Communication-Compassion-Marshall-Rosenberg/dp/1892005026 . NVC is a tool how to understand why this person believes what he does, and then how to explain to them your side.

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