my brother is off the derech

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    so my older brother is officially off the derech. it’s really hard for my parents since they’re BTs. I have no one to talk to about it and its really hard. Im scard that Ill also go off. On shabbos, when i hear him watching movies on his laptop, i dont know what to do. what should i do??


    riki77, that must be so difficult for you, having a brother unfortunatly off the derech with no-one to turn to. do know this: that the reward is all so much greater with such huge difficulties.

    how old are you? are you in school? what type of school are/were you in?

    doodle jump

    I am so sorry. I don’t know why you feel that you will also go off the derech. Say tehilim and show your brother that you love him. You don’t agree with his decision but it’s very important that you show him that you still love him and care about him and is there for him.


    This is a really serious issue and I think its should be discussed with a rebbe or rebbetzin that you feel comfortable with and respect. Its true it may be embarrasing but people will end up finding out so its worth approaching someone.

    I personally think that you shouldn’t criticize hom for anything he does and try to be as kind as you can he’s probably going through a very hard time. But at the same time keep your distance so you don’t get influenced.

    Maybe suggest to your parents that they should discuss it with their rav, rebbe, rebbetzin


    One thing you can do is get good friends. Try to spend some Shabbosim with Ehrliche people so that you get a good look at a normal Shabbos.


    First of all you should ask your parents to explain to your brother that although he does not follow halacha, the atmosphere that they want to retain in the house especially for the rest of their children is one that does follow halacha. Therefore its only right that if he needs to watch movies he should use headphones so that everyone else not be disturbed.

    Secondly, going off the derech is not always controllable. Sometimes parents do everything under the sun to teach their children the right way, but the child’s nisayon is between him and Hashem. Your parents shouldn’t feel guilty, they should only do their utmost to express to your brother how much they love him no matter what he’s doing as often as possible. Don’t try now to be mekarev him to yiddishkeit, be mekarev him to your heart.

    If you are scared that you’ll go off, reinforce a love of yiddishkeit in yourself. Read and learn books that speak about Emunah and Bitachon. Learn Chumash with Rashi every day. Find a Rebbetzin (I’m assuming you’re a girl since your name is riki77) that you look up to and make a strong kesher with her.

    You too should only show your brother love and devotion whenever you can. Be strong and firm if he tries to convince you to do things you wouldn’t do but never through arguing. Everything should be with love.

    I have a chavrusa who told me of a boy on his block who went off the derech but his father worked hard to maintain a strong loving relationship. The son tried to keep everything hidden from his father and one day someone caught him watching TV on Shabbos. The boy was so scared that it would get back to his father because he didn’t want to upset him. Within a year he was back in the Beis Midrash. This shows you the power that love has.

    Be strong, daven for him from the depths of your heart and show him how much you care for him and have faith that Hashem will help him.


    Stick behind your brother but don’t make any comments about religion. One of the things my friends and I hate is when sisters make self righteous “seminary” comments. We are all going through our owns issues and trying to improve and we hear this stuff from random people all over. We don’t need it from our own sisters.


    rikki, keep lines of communication open. its a line we use for parents with kids but you can learn it also. if you go shopping, ,or on an outing to the park, ask him if he wants to come along. you loved him b4, you also love him now. when it comes to shabbos though, I agree that your parents should insist that he uses earplugs. tefilla and tehillim are the strongest weapon. depending on your age, maybe you can get in touch with an adult or “big sister” just to air out to. hatzlocha and brocha.


    riki- be very very careful – everybody will be giving u’r brother the main attention here, but you are really going through a horrific time. Keep strong by listening to shiurim all the time – unfortunately your brother has brought the yetzer horah into your home and given him a seat of honor. While everybody will encourage you to keep the lines of communication open, remember, that your frumkeit, your survival in this terrible time, comes first. Shiurim will give you the strength and courage to withstand any temptation, and help you stay calm during inevitable emotional outbursts. Your frumkeit, your middos, your consistency is the best example and the best defense. Hopefully this situation will improve radically and quickly. Good Luck!


    My brother went off,and one of my own teens is going thru major speed bumps…but EVERY WORD THAT WAS POSTED ABOVE IS REALLY TRUE.

    I once wrote a poem dedicated to the siblings of these kids.

    The one making all the trouble gets all the attention and you wonder if anyone notices how hard YOU are trying!


    While everyone on this site has good intentions this is an issue that most of us (posters) are probobly not qualified to deal with (my apologies to those who tryuly are, and thank you for offering your advice).

    To the OP the best advice posted so far is speak to your Rov or Rebbetzin. Let them guide you to the correct people who can answer your questions.


    Obviously I do not know the specifics of this case, but being a loooooong time BT myself, let me give this bit of advice to BT parents…

    Many times baalai teshuva are much more intense and fiery about their newly acquired frumkeit than a FFB. There is nothing wrong with that, but you must realize that your children are NOT you.

    If they were born AFTER you became frum, and went to yeshiva with (mostly) FFB kids from FFB families, who, for better or worse, are more “use-to” a frum environment and more “moderate” in their frumkeit, than the “fiery” way you may be, your kids may find you to be fanatical.

    Now I realize that YOU do not feel you are a fanatic, but it may seem that way to them. If you are are pushing (what seems at least to them to be) a higher than normal level of observance than they see among their friends, this may turn them away from observance completely.

    This is even MORE the case if you became a BT when your kids were already pre-teens or teens. They may greatly resent the idea that just because YOU decided to change your way of life, that they have to also. Of course you want your kids to go in the Torah derech. The key to success is gentleness, s-l-o-w-n-e-s-s, and lots of love. Force will only push them away.


    Rikki just becuase he went off the derech doent mean u will too that was his choice , he is still your brother. I know this is hard for you but one can never know what made someone go off the derech i’m not saying that there are good reasons for doing so but there still may be reasons that you dont know of, be strong and be hopeful that he finds his way back.


    First of all you should ask your parents to explain to your brother that although he does not follow halacha, the atmosphere that they want to retain in the house especially for the rest of their children is one that does follow halacha. Therefore its only right that if he needs to watch movies he should use headphones so that everyone else not be disturbed.”

    This is actually very good advice. You have gotten a lot of good advice from many posters. You are not your brother. You alone are responsible for your actions. Your parents have the right to expect that in their house there should be a level of discretion coming from someone who resides there, to follow the house rules. At the very least,he should not blatantly flout those rules.

    You need to keep the lines of communication open, to see why your brother has changed. He will always be your brother no matter what, and you can possibly be influential on him, if he feels you are not against him and love him unconditionally. This is not an easy situation, but neither is it an uncommon one, unfortunately. But I reiterate, though you have no control over your brother’s actions, you have every control over your own.


    There’s not much I can add here, Rikki, as whatever I’d say, has already been posted.

    I’ve been down this path before, and yes it hurts, and yes, you wonder if you could have done this, or if only I’d do that, but the fact is, sometimes, these things happen despite your (or your parents) best efforts.

    Never give up, and never say its too late! This past week’s Ami had a story of a WW 2 survior who left Yiddishkeit and came back after almost 65 years! Why? No one kmows what it was that sparked the return. But thru a good portion of his being away, he was in contact with a childhood friend, who did not do a full court press, but at the same time, never gave up hope for a full return.

    I’d guess that your brother is under 25 (perhaps even under 20) so there’s every chance that what he is going thru is just a result of being a young person in a very confusing time of life. You might consider having him join the CR, as the issues that are bothering him might be something we’ve been thru and can help him work out.

    Don’t give up, Rikki. Not on him, and not on yourself!


    A great Rabbi; Rabbi Jacob S. Rubenstein ZTL once said on raising children “” Love em, then teach em”…this holdS for you with regards to your brother as well…


    thanks everyone for posting. its been really hard and i dont really want to talk about with my friends and parents. i know ppl always say you should speak to a mentor/rabbi but i just cant do it. i dont mind asking if a milk got on meat type of Q but i dont like the idea of telling him my probs.


    riki, would you consider doing it through email?



    kapusta: nah. i dont think it would help that much.

    im a pretty normal bais yaakov girl. maybe my family used to be modern but now we’re kinda yeshivaish..


    It’s not healthy keeping your emotions bottled up inside you. Especially since you write you’re afraid that you too will go off the derech. If your brother is a bad influence keep your distance. Be polite but cool. Don’t try being the one bringing him back. He needs somebody who’s experienced in this field. Definitely not a HS(?) girl who’s pretty confused herself. Are you sure there’s absolutely NO-ONE you can talk to?



    observanteen, you’re right im just a HS girl…i find it really frusterating that teachers tell us to ask questions a LOR (local orthodox rabbi)but they dont really give you any help just listen to daas torah they know whats best.


    Riki you need to find ONE person/friend that could always have a ear for you. Everyone in this society is volunerable to going off the D. If you don’t speak to someone your burning yourself. there are plenty of confidential hotlines. Contact rabbi dov brezak. my favorite.

    I have plenty of experience with these cases. i know how bt parents are and i know how their kids still want to be “Modox” .

    It is one of the hardest tests.

    If you want to be refered to someone we can surely help you.

    sometimes ppl like to speak to a total stranger so the they dont know them and they don’t jugde them. for example if a yeshivish bochur in a shtark yeshiva would tell his rebbe he has a girl friend the rebbi would help but also loose respect for this “shtarkest boy” .

    so think what you think would be the best for you and do it. bec keeping it in you is DESTRUCTION>>>>>



    ok maynish, how can i contact the person you mentioned???

    i dont know what im supposed to say to him, like my brother is off the derech and im really sad about it…


    Call project YES in Brooklyn. They provide help for siblings of OTD kids.

    You are not alone. There are many kids that are OTD and it is very hard for the parents and siblings. But this will make you stronger and you will have alot of understanding and ahavat yisroel for every Jew. Daven to Hashem that he should help your brother come back to Yiddishkiet. Hatzlocha!


    I’m also in HS and was pretty confused (especially in yiddishkeit). I was also the type to keep everything to myself. I didn’t consult with my parents, machaneches, rebbetzin etc. And so, every passing day I was growing more anxious and unstable. I was extremely confused and felt all alone. My mother was the one who noticed that something was up and answered all of my questions. I’m FFB and I know your parents are BT, but maybe in spite of or probably because of that, they might help you out. My mom contacted Rabbi Jung from Monsey who deals with girls like us. He’s heard every question under the sun, and the best part is, you don’t have to introduce yourself! You can contact him at 845-371-0180. I also got the CDs of Rabbi Sapierman from Toronto – he’s fantastic! You can also go to informative forums like Aish etc. to get some support. Once you’ll be grounded with your yiddishkeit, it will be easier for you to reach out to your brother. I truly hope he’ll come back real soon. Good Luck!!!

    yossi z.

    I am not trying to push here and I am not exactly qualified to give advice but as a person who went through (and sometimes it still is hard and may feel like I still am going through) the “bumps” myself I did find that as uncomfortable as it may be you must talk with someone or else as maynish put it you are destroying yourself. Now if you can get someone anonymous (which I didn’t) good and fine but if you can’t, as hard as it may be, go speak to someone you know, a real friend/mentor/etc, the type of person that no matter what happens will always be there (I spoke with my father and my rebbe and I feel that not only do they not respect me, on the contrary they think more of me for coming to talk to them. This is not saying that I have no problems calling them up/talking to them in person but there are times due to the fact that I have already spoken to them, that the next time is easier)

    May Hashem help in all that you need


    riki, while your brother is going through his nisayon you are going through your own as you have already realized. The pain you feel for him, the confusion you are feeling yourself and the sadness you feel for your parents. There are all kinds of thoughts, feelings and emotions you are going through some of which may run from loyalty to fear. Each member of your household must feel that their lives have been turned upside down. You each want answers and yet there are no answers for you. You each want to know what to do and yet there is nothing for you to do but give your brother unconditional love. You might not approve of what he does and you might not accept his actions but he needs to know that you accept him and love him no matter what.

    Having said that, you also need to know that your needs and your feelings are also extremely important. The world does not revolve around your brother’s issues although it might seem like it does at the moment. As a sibling you might be able to reach your brother on a level your parents can’t even penetrate. But first you have to understand who you are. How do YOU need to be respected? What are your values? What is important to you? Plant your feet firmly on the ground and make sure that you take an accounting of who you are and what YOU represent.

    Why is this important? Because your brother is still your brother, your flesh and blood no matter what he chooses to do or what his journey may be. You are not in control of that and there is nothing you can do to change that. He has to work through his own issues and he is in control of his own choices. He can choose to get help and bring his issues to the surface. He can choose to trust your parents with whatever is bothering him and trust in their support. Or he can choose to try to handle whatever it is on his own and go down this dark journey.

    You have the same power of choice. You can choose to stake your claim and be proud of who you are and what you represent. YOU can choose to tell your brother that YOU love him unconditionally and that you would hope he feels the same about you. Just as he wishes that YOU and everyone else would respect his choices, so too do you have a right to ask him to respect yours. In other words, you have a right to say “if you choose to be mechalel shabbos I have to respect that but by the same token YOU know how important it is to me and the rest of the family, so if you are not doing this to hurt us please RESPECT our choices as well and do so in a way that it is not in our face. Is it really necessary for us to hear your computer or TV? Isn’t it enough that we know that you are not respecting OUR Shabbos; do we have to actually hear you or see you doing it? I will admit that I have no clue what has happened and why you are making these choices at this time. But I will also admit that you are my brother and that is more important to me than the choices you make. Can we just agree to respect each other?”

    If that sounds like something you can handle, then go for it. The point is that as a family you have to support each other through good times and bad times. Life is a challenge and sometimes the challenges we face are a lot more than we bargained for. The most important thing right now is to keep your brother safe, but that doesn’t mean that your lives stop or the world stops spinning because he is going down this path. If you can convey your love and support and keep the line of communications open you might be handing him a lifeline. As for your life, why should you worry about going off the derech? This is not a contagious disease!!! For whatever reason your brother is going through this nisayon why do you feel it will effect you the same way? YOU are your own person, and YOU need to believe in what you believe in. If you believe in Hashem and have true bitachon then maybe saying Tehilim for your brother will help YOU and maybe even help him. Having your own private conversations with Hashem will help you to feel more connected to him and less disconnected and “free falling”. Please understand that whatever he is going through he really doesn’t want to take you down with him.


    i don’t know where to contact r brezak but you can seek guidence from rabbi horowitz program project YES .

    I am in this business field of “avoiding nowaday problem”. im a true believer of preventing. and ALL teens are “AT RISK”. EVERY parent needs to prevent their teen from being RISK when they are AT RISK.

    so seek advise . ill be glad to assist you further.

    also i dont know what your relationship with your parents are but you should strengthen it and discuss it with them. for example mommy “it really hurts me to see dovid like this” how can we help him . how did it happen . can you make sure it doesn’t happen to me… I LOVE YOU MOMMY>>>> Keep saying I love you. and your mother loves you more than anything.

    and remember to be strong and always be HAPPY with the dissiion decision you make. and keep following in the derech hashem. and hashem is always by ur side helping you esspecially during harder times.

    again ill be glad to help more . please let me know if i can assit you any further.


    aries2756- what you wrote really touched my heart. even though i wouldnt say that to my brother (he’d just swear at me), the words you used were so comforting. thank you!!!

    the reason im worried that ill also go OTD is because my parents are really chilled about things. they dont like when i watch tv & movies but they dont discourage it.

    maynish- thank you!!

    i just joined the CR and i think its one of the greatest decisions i have made in awhile.

    its so amazing how connected you can to kall yisroel =]

    always here

    I’m a looong time BT & my husband is a looong time CT.

    I was in the core start-up group of M.A.S.K. & the one thing that troubled me the most in parents’ discussions was how many supported the ‘tough love’ approach. throwing the child out of the house?!

    keeping up communication*,and giving un-conditional love & support … B’H, it worked for us! (*heavy-handed, repetitive, guilt-inducing, mussar-giving by one of us didn’t work, & still doesn’t). respect is also key.

    Chasdei Hashem, the children (all FFBs) ‘cleaned up their acts’ & have gone on to Torahdik marriages.

    my older daughter, whom I respectfully & affectionally call ‘the Rebbitzen’, was never affected in the least– insofar as her beliefs. of course, she was veryy concerned for her siblings, but implimented love & communication & respect as well. she is a role model to all of us.


    “my husband is a looong time CT”

    What’s that?

    always here

    bpt- sorry! CBT.. chozer b’teshuva


    Oh. Is there a difference? Unless:

    * One means: frum as a child, went off, and then came back

    * The other means: born to non-frum parents, raised not frum, then took root as an adult.

    Or are they just another was of saying the same thing?

    always here

    bpt– yes on your 2 * points:

    an FFB who goes off (sometimes just somewhat) & returns = CBT

    BT = born to non-frum parents, returns to roots (not necessarily as an adult, can be younger).

    [my husband said you can still call a CBT a BT.]


    FYI – I have a friend who coined a new phrase to describe CBTs (he’s in kiruv, so its an insider’s joke)

    Its FFB / TAB (frum from birth, took a break)

    I guess even professionals need to keep their job liveley!


    Rikki –

    By the way, I hope you’re still reading this thread, becuase as you can see from the banter, “going off the derech” while nothing to sneeze at, does not mean a burial for your brother.

    We all have our weak moments, and bouncing back from a hard fall only makes us tougher and more scratch-proof for the next go around.

    Have your brother read what we’ve posted (and also look up a thread called cognative disonance, which aslo has a bunchof well written stuff on this topic).

    We’re here to have fun, but we’re also here to help!

    always here

    well said above, bpt (to Rikki).

    funny about FFB/TAB … when I first saw it I thought FFB’s who went to TAB (High School).. as my 2 sons did.


    @BPT thank you for the hat tip to my thread!!

    And to the OP

    Why would what your brother does in the privacy of his own room have an affect on your own level?

    Going “OTD” isnt contagious unless you yourself make the decisioin to head that way. If your strong in your own beliefs then you will be fine.

    Just focus on not driving your brother away with self righteous and hateful comments as I’ve seen happen in similar situations.


    im also really worried about my younger siblings. they really look up to my brother.

    and i know everyone is posting things like what to say to brother but i think im just avoiding him as much as possible.


    If it is possible for you to get invited out, please accept the offer. You need serious friends to fill the void.


    Don’t avoid him. He is not contagius. In fact, avoiding him will only make him feel isolated from his family at a time when he most needs love and guidance. Take your cues from Hashem. Hate the sin, but love the sinner.


    rikki, good for you that you are trying to find someone to help; not everyone who wants to help, though, will actually have the experience and skill…..hopefully you will find a good match.

    Just one point, it sounds like your brother is in a somewhat angry phase—it may be that if he can get a job to support himself and move into an independent living arrangement, the hostility will soften and it will be possible to communicate again. I know it’s painful, but while he is living in your home he may just need space, but try to avoid giving him negative messages. Also I sense your desire to maintain privacy when it comes to your school life. I hear and understand this, but it may be a relief to you if you can find one trustworthy friend to confide in, someone who will respect your privacy and not be judgemental.


    Rikki, for a teenager, its hard to deal with for many reasons, and I understand why you try to avoid him, its ok to deal with it in any way that you are comfortable with. Do look for someone like a mechaneches you can be close with, who you can talk to on a regular basis and get chizuk. you will need to be well connected (good friends, a mechaneches, a rebetzin – there are so many wondeful ppl around, if you tell me where on the globe I can try to match you with a mechaneches/ rebetzin who will udnerstand you and support you, and be available to listen regularly). ebing well connected will help you ride the wave as healthy and strong as possible. if you can try to be a role model for the younger ones, it will be very beneficial. ignore his negative behaviors, and show them what good and solid lifestle is. he shouldnt be doing chillul halacha in the house in front of others. Hope things go well.


    try to get in touch with one of the rabbi wallersteins over at ohr yitzchcok on avenue l and east 15th street in flatbush


    or try to contact rabi zechariah wallerstein through ohr naava go to for more info…he has helped many kids in the past and may be of assistance to help you as well


    I hope you get input and support from the pros. But here’s one lay idea:

    When kids go off these days often they don’t just leave Yiddishkeit, they leave productive living. If he’s still focused, e.g. school, responsible at a job, endorse him for that, and any act of mentchlichkeit you see. Everyone needs that but IMO especially kids these days who may feel like a gornisht.


    To all the guys out there who think Riki shouldn’t avoid her brother: I had a very close friend who is terribly confused and is now on her way off. In my innocence, I thought that I can and have to be the one bringing her back. As a result, I grew confused myself!

    Going OTD IS contagious although not literally and not all the time. This is serious business which is not meant for a teenaged girl who’s at a loss.

    Of course you have to be nice, but, IMO keep your distance. I’ve witnessed many a family where one member caused the others to follow in his/her path. They are out to get others to join them. As soon as I dropped my “friend” (I’m just casual with her – no deep discussions), I’m far better off. I know it’s much harder with a brother who’s your flesh and blood, but, this is the right thing to do. You have to save youself first. Also, remember: you’re NEVER alone. Talk to Hashem. He’s your Father and understands you best. I know what it’s like to feel lonely and friendless. Please don’t worry. It will all pass. Believe me, the payoffs or big. You’ll live a pleasant and calm life IY”H. Have a wonderful journey!!


    observanteen: self-centered much? If you can’t try to help others without hurting yourself in impermissible ways, so be it, but please don’t paint that situation as if its the way it should be. You are expected to maintain your own observance of halacha and help others improve theirs! you are not on this world to live a pleasant calm life for yourself! your here to do good for others!


    “if you choose to be mechalel shabbos I have to respect that but by the same token YOU know how important it is to me and the rest of the family…”

    aries: Really? Is that something we’ve got to respect? “Hate the sin, not the sinner.” You’re supposed to respect others, but their wrong CHOICES??? In my book, chillul shabbos is a SIN. And I do NOT respect sins. If you respect chillul shabbos, how do you expect your kids to love shabbos? What sould keep THEM from going OTD???

    I hope I didn’t offend you, but, I had someone who almost forced me being friends with a mechallel shabbos, because “she does it because she’s angry.” Teens are kids who think they can handle this, but we’re still YOUNG. It’s very easy influencing us, EVEN if we’re strong with our yiddisheit. It’s DANGEROUS being too close to them.

    Riki: KEEP STRONG!!!

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