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In today's society, where secular influence is prevalent, many individuals are navigating the balance between religious observance and worldly engagements. This leads to the question: How does traditional Jewish thought guide those who are immersed in secular environments but seek a deeper connection to their Orthodox roots?

I'm specifically interested in foundational Jewish texts that discuss strategies to cultivate piety and righteousness in the face of secularism. While I'm familiar with the Sefer Hasidim's perspective on piety, are there other primary Jewish texts that shed light on this?

For instance, if we were to consider a hypothetical scenario where a man, isolated on a planet with no Jewish community, only had access to foundational Jewish texts, which ones would best guide him towards righteous living?

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    Avot 1:6 comes to mind. And just to emphasize on the detail about judging favorably, that applies to yourself as well. sefaria.org/Pirkei_Avot.1.6?vhe=Torat_Emet_357&lang=bi Jun 1, 2023 at 18:04
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    Please, PLEASE: You need to talk to a competent rabbi and most likely a mental-health professional. The thought patterns you are describing here are not healthy ones, nor spiritually-productive. If you're thinking about self harm, please dial 998 (in the US). Now.
    – Shalom
    Jun 1, 2023 at 18:44
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    To quote Rabbi Yitzchak Breitowitz addressing a group of those not raised Orthodox: "G-d could have decided your soul should have been born into an ultra-Orthodox family in an enclave in Israel; yet G-d chose for you to have been born into a less-affiliated family in, say, Nebraska. There was a reason for that, and you should not be ashamed of it."
    – Shalom
    Jun 1, 2023 at 18:46
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    It appears from the tags on your question that you are not Jewish. Your first step would be to throughouly study the 7 laws of Bnei Noah. Start your journey there and see where it takes you. Jun 1, 2023 at 18:48
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    I noticed the tag: conversion-to-Judaism. Non-Jews do not need to convert to Judaism, in order to live life as God has made them. All they need to do, is to meticulously follow the God-given Noahide Code and its corollaries. That in itself can be a lifelong career! If a person wants to improve their character, they can study various self-help books that can help a person work on themselves. Jun 1, 2023 at 19:30

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Neither were Abraham, the holy matriarchs, Josef, Jethro, and even Mosses brought up in the best of surroundings, and the Midrash even says that Abraham worshiped idols in his youth, yet heaven forbid to say that they were at fault, and according to the Halacha, someone who sinned unknowingly because of the way he was brought up, need not even offer a sacrifice to atone for it, being that he did so unknowingly!

The Talmud says that one can become righteous, and atone for anything and everything in an instant - just by opening your heart like the size of a “needle’s tip”, i.e. the smallest amount - and there are numerous stories in the Talmud of people who earned a share in the world to come in one moment!

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  • I revised the question so please re-open it.
    – naarter
    Jun 7, 2023 at 14:56
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Repentance is the biggest cleanser of the soul; and there is no sin that can't be forgiven, if a person truly repents.

The first step of repentance; is regret, which you've amply expressed.

The second step of repentance; is to have a firm conviction to disassociate yourself from the sins of the past.

That involves making important life changes that will help you overcome the negative influences of your current situation. Speak to a spiritual advisor that you're comfortable with, who will be able to guide you on your personal path.

By disassociating yourself from the sins of the past, and your sinful environment, you demonstrate the seriousness of your repentance, and cement your future performance, which will hopefully be something that you will be proud of yourself, and God will be proud of you!

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    Thank you. I must read more on teshuva
    – naarter
    Jun 1, 2023 at 19:30
  • I revised the question so please reopen it.
    – naarter
    Jun 7, 2023 at 14:56
  • @naarter Sorry, but I didn't vote to close the question, and I'm not on the review board to reopen it. Sep 27, 2023 at 21:09

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