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Brother Who Went Off the Derech

My brother and I were raised in a Shomer Shabbat home. He is no longer Shomer Shabbat, intentionally. When he visits us for Shabbat, he intentionally travels on Shabbat. He also scoffs at our practices and our “overly religious” practices.

Several years ago, a High School rebbe whom I still contact and knows my brother and I labeled him an appikores and suggested that I sever contacts with him or, at least, severely limit it. Is my rebbe’s suggestion halachically warranted or recommended in this situation?


This is a very delicate question.

Without going into the question of labeling a person as an Apikores, if your brother’s presence is damaging to your own family, and he presents a threat to your Jewish upbringing, then this is something that must be taken to heart.

At the same time, “cutting him off” is a tragedy in itself, since he is after all close family, and a connection should be maintained if at all possible.

I would take up the matter with your brother. Write him or call him, and explain your dilemma. Tell him that you don’t scoff his way of life even if you think he’s totally wrong, and that you expect him to respect your way of life too – which is the minimum that can be expected from any decent human being, let alone a fellow Jew.

I hope that this will work and bring about a change in his attitude and his behavior. If it doesn’t, then you might have to seriously consider limiting your family’s contact with him.

Good luck and best wishes.

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