Letter: Horrified

I’m sharing this personal experience in hopes that it prevents even one such story from occurring again.

I was not always frum, but I have been frum now for the past 15 years or so.

A couple of weeks ago, an old friend reached out to me and sent me a picture of us hanging out as teens. I was mortified that this picture still existed and I kindly asked him to delete it. My life was much different now.

I then asked him to promise me that he will not be sending this picture out anywhere, but what he told me next frightened me.

He told me, he had shared this picture on a family chat, as well as with a couple of neighbors, but that he would try and have them delete it as well if it wasn’t too late. I felt my heart drop immediately.

Here I was, for over 15 years trying to forget my past and improving my life, and always hoped that my children and wife would never know certain things about it. Yet here, with a few clicks of a button, my life could literally be destroyed all over again. Should my children and wife see this picture, they will no doubt be mortified and it can cause severe issues for my family down the line.

I’m hoping and praying that whoever gets a hold of this picture does not forward it further, and I’m also praying that it does not somehow affect my family in the future.

I’m writing this letter to warn others about the dangers of forwarding an innocent picture, not realizing they could have serious consequences for others.

Thank you.

Your neighbor,

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  1. I never understood why the fires in California about 3 years ago, the fires were moving at speeds of 70 mph.
    Feel free to google that.
    Maybe Hashem was sending a message that a human being is able to destroy other people through modern technology that travels at high speeds like whatsapp and social media. I am sure that there were many messages, but maybe this was one of them.

  2. I am always against sharing pictures on a chat or any social media outlet for loads of reasons and my heart goes out to you. But just realize for a moment, For 15 years you worked hard to change your life, and did a good job at it, namely you say you have a wife and kids who are part of the life you chose. Although you may wish to just delete your past, it’s part of you and also brought you to where you are today. I would venture to say your wife married you with the knowledge that you weren’t always frum, and she appreciated you for what you made of yourself. Seeing what you used to live like is definitely embarrassing but I don’t think it will ruin your life. You made life altering choices to lead a frum life. Nothing can bring you back to the way you used to live unless you will it. Your family will only respect you for the brave choices you made. My parents weren’t always frum, and we all knew it. We were very proud that they chose a frum life for themselves and for us. Make a hard choice, be proud of it, and realize your past was a stepping sotne to where you are today. God made us human. It’s ok. The main focus is what you did with your life, and I’d call any BT a huge Kiddush Hashem.

  3. Horrible? Not really. You cannot erase your past. Give up the angst live you life. It’s likely your kids will never see this unless they are unsupervised when using the computer. You do supervise their use and filter your internet don’t you?

  4. I too was irreligious as a teen and young adult. What I learned pretty fast was that there’s no delete button on life and you have to accept who you were and where you came from. I made life altering choices and physical choices too that stick with me for the rest of my life. When my kids are old enough to both understand and not try to copy, I will let them know I made these mistakes. I would not want them to see any pictures of me from that time period however, I know it’s pretty much out of my control. I will just teach them to keep in mind that a picture lasts forever and it should be a lesson for life. Just because we did teshuvah doesn’t mean all the damage is irreversible.

    • Rav Avigdor Miller Zatzal was very against sharing anything negative about yourself to anyone, even to your spouse.
      Once I’m mentioning the Rav, he also was against going to any kind of therapist. “Go to a Rav (not me!) who knows you in order to give you advice. He won’t charge you (but you should give him money anyway) & you’ll get daas Torah.

  5. I have so much respect for you and the way you changed your life around.

    Don’t think that all the people that are not a Bal Tshuva have nothing to hind. And believe me, if everyone would find out all the mistakes that we all made, we will all be embarrassed and yes it will destroy our lives.

    Hashem gave us a Yetzer Hara and we are all human, and we make wrong decisions, our job in life is to change and do Teshuva.

    I am sure that your wife knows where you came from, and she will respect you more because she sees how much you changed.

    Regarding your children finding out about it, you should approach your Rav and ask him what to do.

    Regarding people sending out pictures without someone’s permission, is totally disgusting and wrong.

    I have a tremendous amount of respect for you for changing your life around.

  6. I hope you wrote off this so-called “friend” of yours. It’s patently true he posses no scintilla of commin sense.

  7. I feel for you, sir. But, the Before Teshuva pictures of Rav Uri Zohar ztl, are still shown, and demonstrate how much a Yid can lift himself and grow. Hatzlocha rabba

    • This extreme concern about exposure is frightening. Everyone knows Rebbe Akiva didn’t learn until he was 40 yet he issued (highly unusual) and very dynamic Psaks that still affect how Yiddishkeit is practiced.
      In Pesachim it says, “Rebbi Akiva said, ” When I was an Am Haaretz I said, “Who will bring me a Talmud Chochem so that I can bite him like a donkey.” His Talmidim said, “Say you would bite him like a dog.”
      Rebbe Akiva replied, “I specifically said a donkey because when it bites it breaks bones while a dog doesn’t.”
      If Rebbe Akiva had no problem sharing with his Talmidim that in his pre-frum days he had a deep hatred and disdain for the Frum I don’t think you need to be so concerned.

  8. Daycares and schools, please be aware that it is illegal under COPPA to post a child’s image or info online without parental consent. Want to know why, check out “archive dot org” or other such sites- the internet is forever!

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