FFB or BT: Who’s Better?

Question

I’ve seen the letters FFB and BT in questions, answers and articles – what do they stand for?

, 2 months

Answers

  1. GYA (Glad You Asked)! They are oft-used abbreviations to refer to the background of Torah-observant Jews. FFB stands for “frum from birth,” meaning born and raised as religious. BT is short for “ba’al teshuva,” a person not born religious but who has become observant, usually as an adult.

    There’s another category that should be noted: NYF, meaning “not yet frum.”

    I personally don’t like to use these “labels.” A Jew is a Jew, and who is anyone to judge and label another? We are one nation, with one God, and with one Torah.

    Many students ask me: Who is better? An FFB or a BT? My reply is that we were born into families we didn’t choose, and that each person should strive to be the best version of “me.” I have found that an FFB can learn much and be greatly inspired by a BT – and vice versa.

    Your question reminds me of a true story. A young man was studying in a Jerusalem yeshiva that was primarily focused on newly observant students. He went to see the famous Chassidic Rebbe of Gur.

    “In which yeshiva do you study?” the Rebbe asked.

    “A ba’al teshuva yeshiva,” he answered. “But I’m not a ba’al teshuva,” the young man hastened to add.

    “You’re not a ba’al teshuva?” asked the Rebbe in surprise. “Why aren’t you?!”

    (The Rebbe meant to say that everyone needs to make a personal commitment to the Torah, to become “newly observant” every day.)

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team