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Ba'al teshuvah' (Hebrew: בעל תשובה; for a woman, בעלת תשובה, baalat teshuva; plural, בעלי תשובה, baalei teshuva, "master of return [to God]"), sometimes abbreviated to BT, is a term that often refers to a Jew who turns to embrace Orthodox Judaism. Baal teshuvah literally means "master of return" i.e., one who has "returned" to God. It is often contrasted with "FFB" (Frum from birth), which refers to Jews who are born into families that are already religiously observant, and who have been conceived, born, and raised in the Jewish faith.
Originally, the term referred to a Jew who transgressed the halakhah (Jewish law) knowingly or unknowingly and completed a process of introspection to "return" to the full observance of God's mitzvot. According to the talmud, a true "ba'al teshuvah" stands higher in shamayim (lit. "heaven") than a "frum from birth", even higher than a tzadik, chasal says. In contemporary times, the phrase is primarily used to refer to a Jew from a secular background who becomes religiously observant (normally in an Orthodox fashion) later in life. The alternative term, chozer b'teshuvah (חוזר בתשובה) is more commonly used in Israel. There is neither traditional nor halachic foundation at all for any looking down on baalei teshuva (has-veshalom).
Baal teshuva movement
Famous baalei teshuva
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