Brother-Honoring one’s older brother:
A person is obligated in the honor of his older brother. [Unfortunately, due to our sins, many are no longer careful in this matter to honor their older brother, and by doing so they nullify the mitzvah of honoring their parents. However, one is not obligated to fear his older brother and is only obligated in matters of honor.]
Definition of older brother: According to many Poskim the above obligation of honor is only towards the oldest son of one’s father and/or mother who is the Bechor, the first born son of the family, and not simply to all brothers who are older than you. [However, it does not refer to the literal Halachic firstborn but simply to the eldest living son, and hence even if a daughter was born first, the siblings are obligated to honor the son who was born next in line, as he is considered the firstborn son in this regard. Furthermore, if the firstborn son passes away, then one is obligated to honor the next son in line.] However, other Poskim rule that one is obligated to show respect also for all the brothers who are older than him, and not just to the firstborn son, and so is the ruling according to Kabbalah.
Maternal versus paternal: The above obligation applies whether to a paternal older brother or a maternal older brother. [Thus, a child born from a second marriage, must honor the oldest son of each his father and mother from their previous marriages, as he must honor his father’s oldest son and his mother’s oldest son, which are both half siblings.]
A Torah scholar younger brother: This applies even if the younger son is a greater Torah scholar and Torah giant more than the oldest son. [However, if the older brother is s student of the younger brother in Torah and his younger brother is considered his main Rebbe, then the older brother is obligated in the honor of his younger brother.]
Excommunicating an older brother who belittled a Torah scholar sibling: If an older brother belittled and shamed a younger brother who is a Torah scholar, and the younger brother excommunicated the older brother as a result, then he has done nothing wrong and it is even good that he excommunicated him, as being that the older brother does not respect Torah learning he therefore has excluded himself from his people and is not obligated to be respected.
After death: It is disputed amongst the Poskim if this obligation to honor the older brother applies even after the death of the parents and practically one is to be stringent in this matter. However, one is obligated to honor his older brother even after the older brother’s death, such as for the sake of saying Kaddish on his behalf.
Can a parent forgive the rights of respect that need to be shown to the older brother?
Although a parent can forgive his own respect, it is questionable whether a parent can forgive the respect of his oldest son, and hence absolve the younger siblings from an obligation to respect their older brother. Practically, one is to be stringent in this matter and respect one’s older brother even if the parent forgives the respect.
Can an older brother forgive his honor?
This matter is held under question. If however, both the older brother and parents forgive the honor required to be shown to the older brother, then certainly one may be lenient in showing extra honor to the older brother.
Is a younger born twin obligated to show extra honor to his older born twin?
Yes. This applies even if the twins were born moments apart but in two different Adar’s in a leap year, such as the first was born prior to dark on the 30th day of Adar Rishon, and the second was born after dark on the first of Adar Sheiyni, nonetheless, the younger son is to honor the older son even though in non-leap years he celebrates his birthday before the older son.
Is one obligated to honor his older brother who is a Rasha?
No. This applies even according to those Poskim who rule that one is obligated to honor his father or mother even though they are a Rasha.
|What matters of respect is one obligated to show his older brother?
From some Poskim it can be understood that one is obligated to respect his older brother to the same extent, and with all the honorary formalities, that one is obligated to respect one’s parent. Nonetheless, the final ruling of the Poskim, and long-standing custom amongst even the G-d-fearing, is unlike this understanding, and on the contrary one is not to give the older brother the same level of respect that he gives to his parents, as this would be belittling to his parents, and certainly the Torah never commanded one in this. Rather, the respect needed to be shown to the older brother is less than that required for his parents and is hence only applicable regarding certain matters as we will now list.
Is one also obligated to fear his older brother as required for a parent?
No. The obligation towards an older brother is only regarding matters of honor and not regarding matters of fear. Hence, there is no problem with calling one’s older brother by his first name, as this is included in the mitzvah fearing one’s parent fear and not honor.
May one call his older brother by his first name?
May one sit in his older brothers set seat?
Yes, as this is included in matters of fear.
May one contradict his older brother’s words?
Yes, as this included in matters of fear. However, it may only be done in a polite matter as otherwise it is considered disrespectful and included in the command of respect.
Speaking with honor and respect:
One is obligated to speak respectfully with his older brother.
Speaking prior to the older brother:
A younger sibling is not to speak prior to an older sibling, unlike the custom today in which younger siblings jump and talk prior to the older siblings.
Must one listen to his older brother’s commands and instructions as required with a parent?
Some write that one is obligated to listen to his older brothers requests and wishes from which he directly benefits from such as to bring him a cup of water. However, one is not obligated to listen to the requests and wishes that the older brother does receive direct benefit from, such as to work a specific job. Practically, the custom is to be lenient in this matter.
Standing in honor of one’s older brother:
Some Poskim rule that one is obligated to stand in honor of his older brother. Nonetheless, this is no longer the widespread custom even regarding a parent, and certainly not regarding an older brother, and hence there is no need to stand for one’s older brother even according to the above reproach as we assume that he forgives his honor just as we rule regarding apparent. Furthermore, even according to the above stringent approach, one may be lenient to not fully stand up, and may suffice with simply lifting his body. Likewise, one need only be stringent when the older brother enters one’s four cubits. [As already stated, the custom is not to stand up at all on behalf of an older brother, and one who desires to do so must certainly be stringent to stand up on behalf of a parent otherwise this would be belittling to the parent that he stands up for his older sibling but not for his father or mother.]
Who gets to choose the Beis Din in case of a monetary claim?
Although when a father takes his son to court, the son is to follow the court of choice of the father even though in general we follow the court of choice of the defendant. However, an older brother does not hold this right, hence if he has a claim against the younger sibling, he has to follow the court of choice of the younger sibling.
| Not to fight with one’s siblings:
Siblings are to be careful not to fight with each other in order not to cause the parents’ pain. Thus, one should not curse and get angry at his sibling even when rightfully justified, to not cause pain to his parents. This applies even after the death of the parent.
 Michaber 240:22 “A person is obligated in the honor of his older brother, whether he is a paternal older brother or a maternal older brother”; Tur 240; Rambam Mamrim 6:15 “One is obligated in the honor of his older brother as he is in the honor of his father”; Kesubos 83a [103a]; Kallah Rabasi 3; Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:57-58; See Toras Menachem Reshimos Hayoman p. 286, printed in Shulchan Menachem 4:175; Mamar Ki Seitzei 13th Elul 5714, printed in Toras Menachem Mamarim Melukat Daled p. 236; See Encyclopedia Talmudit Erech Kibud Av Vaeim Vol. 26 p. 467-470
 The reason and source: This is learned from the words in scripture [Shemos 20:12] “ViEs Imecha,” as the extra letter Vav comes to include the eldest brother. [Taz 240:18; Kesubos 103a; Kesef Mishneh on Rambam ibid; Reshimos ibid] Alternatively, this is learned from the word Es, and not from the extra Vav. [Zohar 83; Sefer Hamitzvos Rambam Shoresh 2; Rabbeinu Yerucham Nesiv Beis 5; Hagaha of Rebbe Maharash; See Reshimos ibid; See Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnotes 1269-1270] This is due to the honor that one must show his father as it is belittling to the father for one to disrespect his oldest son. [Ramban on Sefer Hamitzvos beginning of Shoresh 2; Darkei Moshe 240:7; Gilyon Maharsha 240:10; See Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid p. 468] According to the works of Kabbalah this obligation is because the oldest son receives the essence of the soul of his father and hence by honoring the oldest brother one is in actuality honoring the father. [Arizal in Shaar Hamitzvos Parshas Yisro and Likkutei Torah Parshas Vayeira, brought in Shut Rav Yedidyah ibid and Derech Pikudecha ibid; Mamar Melukat ibid; See also Zohar 3:83]
 Yearos Devash 2 Derush 12
 See Q&A!
 See Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid p. 467-468
 Sefer Hayirah of Rabbeinu Yona 33; Kesef Mishneh and Radbaz on Rambam Mamrim 6:15 in opinion of Rambam ibid; Tosafus Yom Tov Avos 4:12; Minchas Chinuch Mitzvah 33; Chofetz Chaim Pesicha Asei 10 based on Shavuos 30b; Ramban on Sefer Hamitzvos beginning of Shoresh 2 leaves this matter in question; See Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnote 1274
 Simple implication of Rambam ibid; Chareidim Lo Sasei Derabanon 4:32; Derech Pikudecha 33; Ramban on Sefer Hamitzvos beginning of Shoresh 2 leaves this matter in question; See Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnote 1271-1273
 See Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid p. 468-469
 Implication of Pesikta Rabasi Shemos 20:12 “Lerabos Achicha Habechor“; Implication of Zohar 3:83a “Bera Buchra Chayavin…” [See, however, Nitzutzei Orors on Zohar ibid; Pesakim Uteshuvos 240 footnote 478]; Halachos Ketanos 1:123; Shvus Yaakov 3:76; Beis Lechem Yehuda 240:12 [in name of Arizal, an evident error, as notes Birkeiy Yosef 240:17!]; Beir Heiytiv 240:17; Gilyon Maharsha 240:11; Pischeiy Teshuvah 240:19; Opinion brought in Reshimos ibid Chut Shani 240:24 that even according to some of the Poskim below who argue, the intent is simply that it is proper due to Derech Eretz to honor all one’s older brothers, although the actual obligation only applies towards the oldest brother; See Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid p. 469 footnotes 1289-1293
 Implication of Poskim brought in next footnote and Poskim ibid who also rule that the siblings are not obligated in the honor of a Bechor sister, hence implying that the obligation automatically passes towards the next child who is a son; Implication of wording of Halachos Ketanos 1:123 and Shvus Yaakov 1:76; Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:57 footnote 479
The status of the firstborn girl: Seemingly, however, the firstborn girl herself would not be required to show extra respect to her younger brother who is the firstborn son of the family. Vetzaruch Iyun!
 Ikarei Hadat 26:7; See Shut Rav Yedidyah Tiyah Viyal 59
 Sefer Chassidim 345; Binyamin Zeev 253; Menoras Hamaor Alankevah 4:24; Implication of Ramban on Sefer Hamitzvos beginning of Shoresh 2; Shut Rav Yedidyah Tiyah Viyal 59 that this matter is a dispute amongst the Rishonim and that one should practically follow the opinion of the Arizal that the obligation applies to all one’s older brothers; Chikrei Lev Y.D. 2:7; Birkeiy Yosef 240:17 and Shiyurei Bracha 13; Derech Pikudecha 33; Teshuvah Meahavah end of 370; Chasam Sofer 6:29; ; Yad Shaul 240:15 in name of Chacham Tzvi in manuscript who wrote a dissent on the Shvus Yaakov; Ben Ish Chaiy Shoftim 2:28; 2nd opinion in Reshimos ibid; Shevet Halevi 2:111-16; See Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid p. 469 footnotes 1294-1296
 Arizal in Shaar Hamitzvos Parshas Yisro, brought in Birkeiy Yosef 240:17 and Shut Rav Yedidyah ibid
The reason: This obligation is because each son receives from the soul of his father in accordance to his order of being born and hence while the oldest brother receives the most from the soul of the father, the next in line receives more than the younger ones, and so on and so forth, and hence all the younger siblings must honor the siblings who are older than them being that they carry more of the father soul, and by honoring them is concerned that one is honoring one’s father. [Arizal in Shaar Hamitzvos Parshas Yisro, brought in Shut Rav Yedidyah ibid and Derech Pikudecha ibid]
 Michaber ibid; Rosh 15:6
 Rama 240:22; Darkei Moshe 240:7; Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid p. 470 footnotes 1305
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that in such a case one is not obligated to honor his older brother. [Negated opinion in Rama and Darkei Moshe ibid; Binyamin Zev 253]
 Tosafus Yom Tov Avos 4:12; Mincha Chadasha Mitzvah 33
 Michaber 240:23; 334:41; Teshuvas Rosh 15:7; Darkei Moshe 240:7; Yam Shel Shlomo Kiddushin 1:68; Beis Meir 240; Yishrei Leiv Mareches Chaf 2; Ahavas Dovid of Chida Derush 14; See Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid p. 469 footnotes 1298-1299
 See Sefer Hamitzvos Shoresh Hasheiyni for a dispute between the Rambam and the Ramban in this matter; Megilas Esther on Sefer Hamitzvos ibid 2; Rambam Mamrim 6:15; Kneses Yechezkal 25; Pischeiy Teshuvah 240:18; Gilyon Maharsha 240:10; Lev Sameiach on Hamitzvos beginning of Shoresh 2; Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid p. 469 footnotes 1279-1280
Poskim who rule the obligation no longer applies after the death of the parents: Kitzur Piskeiy Harosh Kiddushin 1:45; Implication of Ramban on Sefer Hamitzvos beginning of Shoresh 2; Implication of Darkei Moshe 240:7; Birkeiy Yosef 240:17 in name of Rif and Rosh; Implication of Sefer Chassidim 571
 Shiyurei Kneses Hagedola 240:43; Megilas Esther on Sefer Hamitzvos ibid 2; Birkeiy Yosef 240:17; Minchas Chinuch Mitzvah 33; Maharam Shick Mitzvah 33; Chaim Bayad 97 based on Arizal; Sheilas Yaakov 1:79; Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:58
 Minchas Chinuch Mitzvah 33; Chaim Bayad 97; Zera Emes 2:148; Sdei Chemed Asifas Dinim Aveilus 152; Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:58; However see Betzel Hachochmah 1:35 that one is not obligated in honoring the older brother after his death; Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid p. 470
 Darkei Moshe 240:7, as perhaps the mitzvah to honor the older brother is a decree of the verse four of the sages that is not given to the jurisdiction of the parent to forgive
 Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:58 footnote 483
 Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:58 footnote 498
 As perhaps the honor required to be shown to the older brother is an extension of the command of honoring one’s parents and hence it is not within the older brothers jurisdiction to forgive it. If it over both the older brother and parents forgive the honor, then no matter how you look at it, the obligation would not apply.
 Yalkut Meiam Loez Shemos 20:12; Chasan Sofer 99; Moadim Uzmanim 7:250; however see Derech Pikudecha 33who implies that on the contrary the one who was born first must honor the one who was born last as the twin who comes out last is the one who was conceived first; See Shulchan Haezer 1:40-6; Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:57 footnote 483
 See Michaber 240:23; 334:41; Teshuvas Rosh 15:7; Darkei Moshe 240:7; Yam Shel Shlomo Kiddushin 1:68; Beis Meir 240; Yishrei Leiv Mareches Chaf 2; Ahavas Dovid of Chida Derush 14; See Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid p. 469 footnote 1297
 Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:58; Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid p. 470 footnotes 1279-1280
 Implication of wording of Rambam Mamrim 6:15, brought in Tur 240, “One is obligated in the honor of his older brother as he is in the honor of his father“; Ramban on Torah Bereishis 32 “As if he is his father”; Minchas Chinuch Mitzvah 33
 Shiyurei Bracha 240:12; Sheilas Yaakov 1:81; Minchas Yechiel 3:107; Aruch Hashulchan C.M. 14:4; Betzel Hachochmah 3:95; Chut Shani 240:24; See Minchas Chinuch Mitzvah 33:1; So is also proven from the fact that according to many Poskim one is not obligated in honoring one’s older brother after his death, and is not obligating fearing the older brother
 See Minchas Yechiel ibid
 Beis Meir 240:23; Implication of Minchas Chinuch Mitzvah 33; Leaning opinion of Ikarei HaDaat 26:7; Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:58; So rule regarding a stepparent and the same would apply regarding an older brother: See Chasam Sofer Kesubos 103a; Chasan Sofer 84; Betzel Hachochma 3:95
 Minchas Chinuch Mitzvah 33
 Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:58
 Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:58
 Rambam on Torah Bereishis 32; Bereishis Raba 270; Chofetz Chaim Pesicha Asei 8 regarding a father in-law and the same would apply to an older brother
 Yearos Devash 2 Derush 12
 Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:58; See footnote 492 that no mention of this is recorded in the Achronim. Vetzaruch Iyun on his ruling as perhaps regarding these matters one is not obligated in honoring the older brother, as stated above that the level of honor is not on the same level required towards a parent
 Pesakim Uteshuvos ibid
The reason: 1) As one is not obligated in honoring the older brother to the same level required towards a parent. 2) As even by a parent there are many instances that one is not required to listen to his instructions if it doesn’t give them direct benefit and some Poskim rule that one is never obligated to listen to his parents instructions regarding such matters. 3) As even by those matters that don’t give the parent direct benefit that according to some Poskim one is obligated to listen to his parent, it is possible that this is due to the command to fear one’s parent, and as stated above one is not obligated to fear his older brother. [Pesakim Uteshuvos ibid footnote 492]
 Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:58
 Pirush HaTur Bereishis 29:31; Sefer Moreh Horim Ukevodam 8:43 in name of Rav Elyashiv; Sefer Hiddur Panim 18 in name of Rav Chaim Kanievsky
 Sefer Moreh Horim Ukevodam 8:43 in name of Rav Elyashiv; Sefer Hiddur Panim 18 in name of Rav Chaim Kanievsky
 See Minchas Yechiel 3:107
 Aruch Hashulchan C.M. 14:4
 Sefer Chassidim 571 “There was a person who would honor his father and mother but was always fighting with his brothers and sisters and curse them and get angry at them, and this caused his father and mother much pain. So a certain Sage admonished him saying that on the one hand you honor your father and mother and on the other hand you cause them pain. Therefore one should not cause pain to his father by cursing his descendants during his lifetime. Furthermore, even after his death a person should consider it as if his father is alive and is being pained by his actions, as the soul of a person after death knows what’s happening in this world.”