Boundaries in Torah Observant Communities

Boundaries Make Others Take Personal Responsibility for Their Behavior

Boundaries are generally not something that we have seen observed in Torah observant communities. Without boundaries in place, the only thing we know how to do it split when things get complicated. Therefore, we want to share some ways and tips for implementing boundaries within Torah observant communities, groups, and fellowships.

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Something you’ll notice when you’re setting boundaries for yourself and others is that it can easily make them uncomfortable. Within the Torah Observant communities, there is no resistance when it comes to offhanded comments. More often many are using others for their advantage.  

Learning to Be His Body with Biblical Boundaries

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When you set boundaries and enforce them, it forces the other person take responsibility for their behavior. This is something that some (perhaps many) people are not very used to. It is new and scary for them, so it’ll be very off-putting in their minds. 

One of the reasons is that boundaries can come off as aggressive at first. You may appear vaguely defensive. Others can take it as a personal threat. You’re making them have some actual responsibility for thinking about what they say and do. 

With so much knowledge-based bravado in Torah Observant communities, learning to embrace and hold boundaries is key. Key to taking our groups, communities, and fellowships back to being about faith, instead of knowledge.

Faith-Filled Torah Observance & Boundaries

As uncomfortable as it may be for people in your community, they will get over it. And start to learn how to act and treat people with respect. Taking responsibility for your behavior means that you can no longer just do things mindlessly.

You actually have to take people’s feelings and desires into account. This is a realistic expectation for someone to have. And it’s in no way difficult if you just decide to be kind and treat others with respect. 

It’s very seldom that others have boundaries that you would accidentally cross just by being kin. But if you do, apologize and keep that in mind. These boundaries aren’t just for others to be responsible; we too need to live aware of other’s boundaries. 

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Taking Responsibility Four Our Own Stuff

Some boundaries also force you to take responsibility. And to act in a way that either benefit you and helps you towards serving or helping others.

 For example, if you set boundaries on yourself to not force your opinions on others, you’re now accountable for that. When it comes to learning how to converse without monologuing or arguing you have to own it.

It can be uncomfortable for you to hold yourself responsible, but it needs to be done. In the short term, others will be uncomfortable with having to be responsible like this. However, it’s better in the long run for everyone. 

Bring Boundaries to Build His Body in Love

By being more conscious and willing to think about what you’re doing, everyone will be able to communicate and interact more satisfyingly. Those who refuse to adapt will flounder, but everyone else will be a lot happier with one another, since this kind of behavior transfers from person to person.

Evaluate Your Own Behaviors to See If You Cross Boundaries, Too

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While you’re working on setting boundaries for other people not to cross, it’s important that you analyze your own behaviors to see if you’re guilty of doing the same thing to others. We all have our understandings, and boundaries can create a space where we can feel supported. Supported to be who we are, accepted, regardless of if our nitty-gritty doctrinal stances don’t line up.

For years, you may have been ignoring someone else’s wishes and their own requests just to satisfy your own desires. For example, maybe you didn’t respect someone else’s obvious need for space – some time to decompress and not engage with you.

We know that we have been guilty of that, we put expectations on others and burnt out relationships that we cherished.

Midrash without Insisting on Winning

Most people have a tendency to want to be right – as if they know what’s best for someone. Look at all of the relationships with people in your life, in particular, your brothers and sisters within the Torah Observant community. How do you encroach on the boundaries of these friends and family members?

Remember that most people will be too shy or lack the confidence to speak up and reprimand or correct your behavior. Moreover, it’s important that you look for signs of discomfort or exhaustion and alter your behavior. 

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While we could talk all day about the responsibility others should take to communicate, it is only ourselves we can truly change.

You can choose to become more aware, or you can kindly ask the individual if they need something else from you. For example, if someone seems irritated or tired when you share your calendar knowledge for the fourth time that Shabbat, you can simply say, “I’m sorry, I just realized I might be repeating myself.”

Build Your Self and Other Acceptance

Don’t get your feelings hurt when you start to realize people need boundaries with you. It may not have anything to do with you individually, such as them not liking you or your ideas. Instead, it’s usually more about what they need for themselves.

When you pound someone repeatedly with your knowledge, for example, you don’t know what’s going on in their life aside from your input. Build the relationship and stop stressing about being right or getting others to agree with you.

Or maybe they have a large work project their mind is stuck on. Or perhaps their studies are where their heart is, and it might be time to ask them what they have been learning? 

 It could also be something as simple as they need Shabbat to unwind and relax, but they can’t do that because of your insistence on being right.

Whenever you’re setting your own boundaries in life, it’s good to start seeing how you, yourself, treat others, and invade their time and space. 

Or how you treat people, which may not be acceptable to everyone else – even if it’s behavior that you personally wouldn’t mind. Getting this perspective helps you set and communicate your own boundaries with others in the future. 

How to Know If the Boundaries You Set Are Fair

One concern you might have with setting boundaries with others is that you don’t want to be unfair ones and drive people away. Sometimes it’s necessary to have stringent boundaries. But you need to make sure they’re fair so that you’re not actually imposing on other people as well. 

There are excellent ways for you to make sure your boundaries are fair while still achieving the goal you want to. When it comes to unfair boundaries, it can be a little unclear as to what they actually look like. 

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It’s not the same for everyone, but there are some that you just sort of know aren’t fair. For example, if you set a boundary with your coworkers to not talk to you, that’s unfair. They need to communicate with you to get their job done. So you’re actually putting them at a disadvantage, meaning your boundaries are overstepping theirs. 

Setting Good Boundaries within Your Group

The biggest key to setting good boundaries is to imagine yourself in the other person’s situation. Going back to the coworker example, how would you feel if you weren’t allowed to talk to someone that you needed to talk to? 

It would likely be very frustrating, and you’d think it was a rather unrealistic expectation for a coworker to have in a professional environment. If you wouldn’t like to encounter someone with that boundary, don’t have such a boundary yourself. 

How Does this Translate into Torah Observant Life Together?

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Now, let’s take a moment to think this through on how the same sort of unrealistic boundaries can affect us in our Torah observant communities.

A significant part of setting appropriate boundaries is making them realistic for the situation you’re in. If you don’t like strangers asking personal questions when you’re in a public place, like a doctor’s office, that’s fine and understandable. You can politely decline to answer. However, inside our faith community, we choose to be open and love one another.

That’s a fair boundary to put in place because it makes you uncomfortable. However, putting that same boundary on your friends in a fellowship doesn’t make much sense if you’re supposed to be becoming His body together. When the local body you fellowship with inquire about your life, they are assuming you’re a friend

Being in Torah Observant Community is Not About Giving Up Our Individuality

There may be specific topics that are off-limits, at which point you’d need to clarify it with them. Ensure that your boundaries have sound reasoning behind them. This isn’t to say that every boundary has to have a long, tragic backstory behind it. Just make sure you’re able to provide some kind of context to it for yourself so you can gauge whether or not it’s fair. 

If you put up a boundary just to be dominant over someone else, then chances are it’s not really fair. You have to be able to provide some sort of reasoning to it in your own mind. 

If you’re ever worried about one of your boundaries being unfair, just ask a friend. If they’re being honest with you and they tell you it’s a bit unfair, then you might consider adjusting it and ask them again. 

No Need to Apologize for Having Boundaries in Your Life

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The reason most people set boundaries is to have a happier and more peaceful life. But you may end up second-guessing your decision afterward, thinking you were being too harsh and overreacted. 

You might find yourself in such a situation, feeling the need to apologize for some reason after setting a boundary, as if it’s your fault that you feel as if you’re not being respected. 

That isn’t really the truth. Your feelings are simply a reaction to the situation you’re in, and you have every right to feel the way you do. You should feel good about having boundaries because it’s a very healthy thing to do for yourself. 

Boundaries are Needed for Every Type

Within our faith groups, we often allow ourselves to find a safe spot and don’t really want to budge. Why? For fear of not being accepted.

The outspoken fear, if they were not so adamant in their knowledge, people won’t respect them as they wish to be perceived. Whether that be as an academic, a leader, brilliant, whatever it is that they are desiring.

 “We must, if we are going to have a biblical view of relationships and people, and live the way that God wants us to live, see the church as he describes it. Our faith must be able to square with the reality of life as we find it and with the reality that the Bible describes to us.”

Boundaries

Standing Up for Your Personhood

Those that act more as followers often have a strong desire to be seen as peacemakers, meek, and mild.

It’ll be uncomfortable for you at first if you’re used to being passive in your engagements with others, but it’s a change that needs to happen. You’ll have to force yourself to stay firm with these boundaries and be unapologetic in doing so. 

It’s important not to seem apologetic about having these boundaries. Because otherwise people will keep prodding at you until you break under pressure, and your boundaries collapse. 

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Never apologizing means that you won’t fold on your boundaries, and you won’t even be remotely upset about adhering to them. It goes a lot deeper than just presenting others with a firm demeanor. 

This is where we can begin finding a path to being His body with Shalom. What if those tired of being squashed and lectured to, said no more?

How to Succeed using Boundaries within Our Torah Observant Community

You need to genuinely believe that there’s nothing wrong with sticking to the boundaries that you have set to improve your life. One thing to avoid when being unapologetic is being aggressive or abrasive. 

It’s easy to get carried away in trying to be strong with your boundaries. You can actually end up being overly confrontational, and in doing so, you’ll push people away. And it could be a lot more than you might like – particularly your friends and other loved ones. 

Moreover, being confrontational within Torah Observant communities is a huge issue to start with. How many people quietly leave a group due to the confrontational atmosphere?

If you’re aggressive about not being apologetic, it can actually undermine your efforts and leave you with less support and more people that don’t like you. 

Not apologizing is very important so that others won’t look at your boundaries as obstacles they need to overcome. They are given a choice to accept or not accept your boundaries. It is all on them – you continue being loving and kind either way.

If you don’t firmly believe in your own boundaries, you can’t expect others to respect them. Instead, they’ll find ways around it, and any effort you made in putting that barrier up will be for nothing. 

When it comes to boundaries, people are often surprised at first simply because they don’t expect you to set them. If you encounter someone who demands that you apologize for having simple things in life like boundaries, chances are that it’s in your best interest to cut off that person as soon as you can.

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