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I have a friend who has a habit of joking about being an apikorus (because he wears his peyos behind his ears). Beyond the strictly judgmental, is there a problem with self-referencing as an apikorus, particularly if one is known to be fromm (religious) and to believe in the ikarim?

  • I had a friend in Yeshiva who was into "nonstandard" ideas. This was met with people calling him a kofer. To which he would jokingly reply that he is a modeh bimiktzas. – user6591 Feb 10 '16 at 20:12
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I think that there is a general prohibition that one is not allowed to be self-disparaging. I haven't seen this as an actual issur - prohibition per se. However, there are many paragraphs in Pirkei Avot that in some way, mention that one should not do this. The two most notable that I can think of:

וְאַל תְּהִי רָשָׁע בִּפְנֵי עַצְמָךְ - Avot 2:13

Do not be a wicked person in your own eyes.

אל תהי בז לכל אדם - Avot 4:3

Do not disparage anyone (i.e. - including yourself. It does not say "anyone else")

An apikoros, as you know, does not receive commendations in the Talmud, or anywhere, in general, in Judaism. Self-evaluation is valuable if it is used to improve oneself. But, generally, a person should not publicize his own character faults other than for useful positive purposes. For example, if he had a flaw in the past that he has improved, it is very useful to teach others who have currently a similar flaw, his example of how he improved himself so that they learn to emulate how he improved.

  • Beautiful answer – Noach MiFrankfurt Mar 6 '15 at 21:40
  • This may not apply if the person is obviously joking as is the case in the question. – Daniel Feb 10 '16 at 13:58

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