Halacha for Sunday 13 Sivan 5778 May 27 2018

A Will to Disassociate from a Sibling

Question: Our deceased mother wrote a will and in it, she instructed us not to sit Shiva for her with one of our brothers, never to speak to him, and never to invite him to family occasions. We should point out that our brother is a good and G-d-fearing man and there were merely some side issues which caused his relationship with our mother not to be the best. How should we proceed?

Answer: The Rosh writes in one of his responses (Chapter 15, Section 5 quoted by his son, the Tur in Yoreh De’ah, Chapter 240) that if a father commands his son not to speak to a specific individual or not to forgive him for what he has done to him and the son wishes to make up with the individual but is concerned about his father’s will, the son need not be concerned about the father’s command, for one may not hate a fellow Jew until one’s sees the individual transgressing a prohibition. Thus, although the father has commanded the son to hate this individual, he does not have the power to instruct his son to transgress Torah law. Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch rules likewise (ibid. Section 16).

We see that although it is a Mitzvah to honor one’s parents during their lifetime and even after their passing, since abstaining from speaking to someone is a behavior exhibiting hatred and the Torah forbids Jews from hating one another, the son is therefore not obligated to listen to his father who instructed him to speak to another Jew. Only if the individual is a known sinner such there is a Mitzvah to hate him is there room to heed the father’s command and not speak to that person.

It is for this reason that when David Ha’Melech commanded his son Shlomo shortly before his passing to seek vengeance from Shimi ben Gera who cursed him, as the verse (Melachim 1, 2) states, “You must also deal with Shimi ben Gera the Benjaminite from Bahurim; he insulted me outrageously when I was on my way to Mahanayim etc. So, do not let him go unpunished, for you are a wise man and you will know what to do with him and you shall send his gray hair down to the grave in blood.” Indeed, Shlomo Ha’Melech heeded his father’s command, as is delineated in the following verse.

Since in the above situation, your brother is a G-d-fearing man and your mother’s anger and animus towards him does not justify ostracizing him from the rest of the family and it certainly does not justify instructing the family never to speak to him, you may not heed your mother’s will. It would be praiseworthy if you could convince your brother to attend the burial and request forgiveness from your mother in accordance with Halacha and from that point on, just continue on with your lives amid love, friendship, and camaraderie.

There is another Mitzvah here that you should be pursuing which is abstaining from strife and to act with love and unity, for the Torah wishes that siblings always remain loving and unified. We derive this from the fact the Torah prohibits one to marry one’s wife’s sister as long as the wife is alive, i.e. the prohibition to marry two sisters. The Torah (Vayikra 18, 18) explains that the reason for this prohibition is because the Torah wishes for two sisters to always live together peacefully and lovingly and not, G-d-forbid, for there to ever be any type of hatred between them. Since two women married to the same man generally do not love each other too much, the Torah therefore prohibited a man from marrying two sisters. The Ramban explains likewise in his commentary on the Torah (ibid).

Thus, even your mother, who is now in the World of Truth, has already come to the realization that her will is null and void as her instruction were skewed and she now wishes for you to all live peacefully together. On the contrary, doing so will cause her great satisfaction in Heaven.

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