Some people, especially Baal Teshuvas who drastically change their lives to being fully observant may find it somewhat overwhelming to observe the minimum halachas in being an orthodox jew (such as praying in a minyan 3 times/day)

Let's say if a particular person knows that if he forces himself, he will become irritable and stressed out and will wind up lacking in his middos area (character traits) and bein adam lechaveiro (mitzvos between other people).

Whereas, if he is more lax and neglects some halachas (like davening alone instead of with a minyan for mincha/maariv), he will not be stressed out and will be better in his middos area and bein adam lechaveiro (mitzvos between other people)

which is better?

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    Ask your LOR. Each persons case has to be evaluated on its merits. Commented May 22, 2013 at 18:30
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    Who requires a person to pray in a minyan? Commented May 22, 2013 at 18:50
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    @Daniel, while I agree that the praying-in-a-minyan example is poor (not required, as Charles noted), I've seen people who are increasing their observance run into problems with kashrut ("what do you mean you can't eat in my house?") and Shabbat ("what do you mean you can't do (whatever) any more?"). This is probably part of why books like After the Return have an audience; it's not always straightforward. Commented May 22, 2013 at 19:15
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    @sam, though Charles Koppelman's question is rather strongly worded, I think the point, at least as it struck me, is that there are many obligations that supersede Minyan attendance, and that it is a poor example of a conflict that could create this level of tension within a person. Really? He's keeping Shabbath, Kashruth, Niddah (if married), Tzitzith, Tefillin, says his Berachoth before and after meals, is careful with his speech, and Minyan is stressing him out?
    – Seth J
    Commented May 22, 2013 at 19:33
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    @good_ole_ray, I'm not saying it's a bad question to ask how someone can balance Minyan 3x daily with the regular demands of life, but if a person, especially a Ba'al Teshuvah or Ger who has fundamentally altered his entire lifestyle, has everything else going but is struggling to catch Minyan 3x a day, I think that person ought to be commended!
    – Seth J
    Commented May 22, 2013 at 20:58

2 Answers 2


This is one of those areas where he really, really needs to be consulting his rabbi. As noted in the question, you can't just flip a switch and -- boom! -- you're observant; it's a process. But, per Avot 2:5, you also can't say "I'll do it later"; later may never come. Only your own rabbi can help you chart a path between these two extremes. (Which is better? Neither, probably!)

I have often heard people talk about the "ladder of mitzvot", with the idea being that even if you're not at the top of the ladder yet, if you're going in the right direction, you're on the right path. This idea seems to apply particularly to baalei t'shuvah and geirim. And even for the rest of us, it can be a powerful idea -- surely there's something we can always be doing better.


First of all, I can only mirror what people said before me: ask your LOR!!! Halachically (please don't take it as a psak for this case) it is okay. In Hilchos Geirus a well known Haloche is cited: that a Ger has to take upon himself all Mitzwos at the moment of Geirus. One of the Meforshim (I would have to look up exactly which one it was) adds that a Tinok Shenishba (so basically every Baal Teshuva) can take upon himself one Mitzwe after another rather than all at once. So the answer would be yes, he could skip certain things in the beginning. (Again, no Psak for this specific case; your friend should ask his Rov; if he doesn't have one yet, he has to get one ASAP.)

  • what about if the person still has not adjusted after years?
    – ray
    Commented May 22, 2013 at 21:03
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    @good_ole_ray, nobody here is saying don't try. We are saying talk to a rabbi and don't let it stress you out so much that it affects your quality of life and alters your relationships with people. Always try, and know that nobody is perfect, and we all struggle in our own ways with fulfilling our obligations. That's life.
    – Seth J
    Commented May 22, 2013 at 21:24
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    @good_ole_ray Sometimes the reason the person still has not adjusted after years is because they take on (even if they don't realize it) stringencies which cause unnecessary stress, that's why going to a rabbi would help because the rabbi could guide him/her what is a must do/don't do and what is beyond. Commented May 23, 2013 at 3:51

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