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Hugging non-frum adult brother


Kvod Harav,
My siblings are all frum to various degrees, except for my brother who is completely not frum as far as I know. He hugs my sisters who dont see any problem with it. I am very uncomfortable with it. I saw your response in another question and understand that it is far from ideal, at best.
When I asked a posek years ago, I think he said just not to hug him back. While I have been having that psak in mind in recent years, I dont think I have been following fully (standing still with not moving at all.). I just try to keep it very formal and put my hands in front of me while he gives me a hug, but I cannot say that I am not leaning it at all. I am guessing I am not following it enough because he hasnt gotten the hint after all these years of hello and goodbye hugs after every yumtif.
I would like to just tell him that halacically its not so simple for a woman to hug adult siblings, which I think he could understand because he does have an understanding that halacha sets boundaries on these things. However, I might be putting my siblings/parents in an uncomfortable position by saying something like that.
What would the Rav advise?
Thank you so much.



Thank you for your question.

Your strength with dealing with this uncomfortable situation is impressive. Keep it up.

There are a few suggestions that I can offer. The first is to make sure you are holding something big in your hands, at the time that you would have to tell him hello and goodbye. In such a position it will be very awkward for him to give you a hug.

Another option would be to be straight forward with him, without saying that halachically it isn’t the correct thing to do, because as you write, you are complicating your siblings regarding this. You can, however, tell him that for religious reasons, you are not comfortable with hugging, and that you love him without a hug and kiss. This way you can get your point across, do what is correct, and on the other hand, you won’t be making your siblings look as if they are doing something incorrect. As a side point, your mother may hug your brother, since he is her son.

Best wishes


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  1. I like reading stuff like this to learn more about Judaism, but this made me uncomfortable. Doesn’t Leviticus say “Love your fellow as yourself”, and one of the Sages (Hillel, I think) said, hopping on one foot, that this is the main principle of Torah and that the rest was commentary? I think, under a circumstance when someone feels physically safe, everyone, especially within one’s family, deserves to feel loved regardless of their opinion and lifestyle. That’s the primary human need while we are on this planet, to be loved. I think that refusing to demonstrate affection to someone because of his/her point of view can really hurt their feelings.

    1. The reason for not hugging is not because of his LifeView or because of what he does, rather because siblings of the opposite gender should not be hugging and kissing. Your religious siblings wouldn’t do this, but if they would want to you would act the same to them. Or at least you would be able to explain it to them.

      1. Thank you for answering. I understand better now that it is based on gender rather than someone’s opinions.

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