Ask the Rabbi

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Rabbi Elchanan Lewis

1 Kislev 5766
Dear Rabbi I am confused on which route to take in terms of increasing my Yiddishkeit? I want to be religious but need guidance. I have spoke to my Rabbi but he is not particularly bothered to help and I would not know how to search for another one as its impossible to go up to every person I see and ask if he is a rabbi!! Can you suggest a study pattern for me to follow in terms of books and when & what to read and study ? and should i follow my normal minhag Ashkenaz or Chabad or any other way? Should Chassidus be taken that seriously as it was not around 300 years ago? Secondly, I am not sure wheather I could maintain a beard and dress in black as I do not live in a complete religious society
Your first instinct to approach your rabbi who knows you, was a clever move, it's really a pity he did not cooperate, maybe try to approach him again and explain to him the situation you are in. I can't really give you an individual learning syllabus as I don't know your position and your progress you have done so far. The key is to study and progress in your own pace. Don’t jump too fast and don’t be afraid to run if you are ready. You should focus on the basics for the start, basic Halacha first of all, so you should know what to do and what not to. I recommend the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch by rabbi Gantzfried as a start. In addition to the above, you should work on establishing a solid faith from our eternal sources; there are many English basic books on this topic. Don't give up on finding yourself a rabbi; it is crucial for your further development and Yiddishkite. In terms of your Minhag – if your father is Ashkenaz you should stick to that. Chassidut is serious and good. Very good. That doesn’t mean you have to be one if you don’t wish to. It is a one of many valid ways of serving Hashem, as long as you serve Hashem full heartedly, study the Torah both written and oral and keep the Mitzvot, the fabric of your Kippa or the colour of your jacket is irrelevant.
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