Parashas Ki Seitze
“There never was and never will be a ben sorer u’moreh (rebellious son). If so, why was this Halacha written into the Torah? To study and receive reward.” (Gemora Sanhedrin 71a). Can it really be that in all of Jewish history there was never a ben sorer u’moreh? There have been many evil personalities, who have done much harm to Klal Yisrael. Why were they never recognized as ben sorer u’moreh and nipped in the bud?
Perhaps we can find an explanation in the words of Rav Shimshon Refael Hirsch. The Torah states, “When a man will have a ben sorer u’moreh, who does not listen to the voice of his father and the voice of his mother...” (Devarim 21:18). Rav Hirsch explains that the parents do not bear any guilt for the nature of this child. They gave him the best chinuch (education). Both parents worked with the boy, as the verse states, “the voice of his father and the voice of his mother...” Most importantly, there was unity in the home, as the verse states, “This son of ours is sorer u’moreh, he does not listen to our voice...” (Devarim 21:20). There was only one voice in the home. The voice of unity. The ben sorer u’moreh had a bad nature that made him go off. Even the perfect chinuch could not save him. Perhaps the wicked people of history were a product of their environments, and could have turned out differently.
What do we learn from this? That our homes must have one voice, as the following story illustrates.
“Imma, may I go to the swimming pool tomorrow?”
“I’m sorry Benny. You have a test tomorrow.”
Later that day, Benny’s father comes home.
“Shalom Abba! How was your day?”
“Very good Benny.”
“Abba, may I go to the pool tomorrow?”
“Did you ask Imma, Benny?”
“What did she say?”
“She said, ‘I’m sorry Benny. You have a test tomorrow.’”
“If Imma said no, Benny, then why did you ask me?”
“Benny, there is just one voice in this house. I back Imma up 100% in her decisions and she does the same for me. When you receive an answer from one parent, do not ask the other one the same question. The answer will be the same. Hatzlacha rabba (have much success) in your test tomorrow, Benny.”
Kinderlach . . .
Abba and Imma do their best to give you a good chinuch. Help them out. Do not try to divide them. If one parent gives you an answer that you do not like, accept it. Do not go to the other parent in the hopes of getting a different answer. That only creates strife in the home. That may lead to “two voices”. Rav Hirsch says that the most important factor in chinuch is unity in the home. Help yourselves and your parents, kinderlach. Promote unity in the home.
Win the War
“Class, let us begin our study of the Parashas Ha’shavuah. “When you go out to war against your enemy” (Devarim 21:10). The verse is referring to a war against a flesh and blood enemy, who tries to maim our bodies. He is very threatening. Yet there is another enemy who is far more dangerous. Who is he?”
“The Yetzer Hara (Evil Inclination).”
“Correct, Chaim. This week’s parasha has more mitzvos than any other parasha in the Torah: 74 to be exact. Mitzvos are our weapons against the Yetzer Hara. He tries to destroy our soul, which is far more harmful than any injury to our body. He tells us, ‘Put your own interests first. Do not think about anyone else. Use people and hurt them if you please. It is all okay if you get what you want.’”
“What can we do to fight him?”
“The Torah leads the battle. Love other people. Chessed (kindness) is everywhere. There are so many ways to help people and even animals. The Torah gives us a wealth of mitzvos of chessed. Let us look for them in the parasha. Whom must we help?”
“Widows, orphans, and converts. We must give them shichacha (forgotten bundles of grain) from our field and ollilos (forgotten clusters) from our vineyards (Devarim 24:19-21). Also, Beis Din must take extra care to judge them fairly (24:17).”
“That is a fair answer, Yitzy. Anyone else?”
“People who need to borrow money. Do not charge them ribbis [interest] (23:20). Do not take a person’s working tools as a mashkon (object of value given as a loan security) (24:6). Do not go into a borrower’s home to take a mashkon (24:10,11). Do not take a poor person’s mashkon if he needs it during the day or night. Rather, return it to him when he needs it, and take it the rest of the day (24:12,13). The Torah promises a blessing for this mitzvah. Do not take a widow’s clothing as a loan security (24:17).”
“You have discovered a gold mine, Avi. A veritable fortune of mitzvos.”
“We must be kind to our employees. Our fruit picker must be allowed to eat while he is working (23:25). Do not withhold a worker’s wages (24:14). Pay him on the day that he finishes the work (24:15).”
“You will be a great boss, Moishie.”
“Customers and suppliers. We are warned not to cheat our business associates by having two sets of weights and measures - a heavy one for buying merchandise, and a light one for selling. This sin is called an abomination (25:13-16).”
“Accurately put, Aaron.”
“People who lost possessions. We must return lost objects to their rightful owners (22:1-3).”
“We have to be kind to animals by readjusting their heavy load (22:4). We should have compassion on the mother bird by sending her away before taking her young (22:6-7). We cannot plow with an ox and a donkey together (22:10). We may not muzzle an ox while he is threshing [working with food] (25:4).”
“Animals require compassion, Doni. Even more so human beings.”
“We must even have mercy on executed criminals and bury them on the day that they are killed (21:22-23).”
“That is how far the Torah teaches compassion, Yerachmiel. You have all given wonderful answers. Now, let us get down to business and begin studying these mitzvos. We are going to win this war.”
Kinderlach . . .
We have many weapons to fight the war against the Yetzer Hara. Each mitzvah gives him a “clop”. In our parasha we have a wealth of mitzvos of chessed, to fight the Yetzer Hara of selfishness and self-centeredness. Choose your weapons, kinderlach. Learn the mitzvos and their laws well. Practice using your arsenal at every opportunity. Then go out and fight the enemy. With Hashem’s help, you will win the battle.
What does a boy have to do to become a ben sorer u’moreh (rebellious son)? (Rashi 21:18)
What blessing do we receive when we perform the mitzvah of shiluach ha’ken? (22:7)
Why can a Jewish woman not marry an Ammonite or a Moabite? (23:5)
May the son of a Mitzri convert marry a Jewish woman? (23:9)
May you return a slave who escaped to his non-Jewish owner? (23:16,17)
May a man remarry his divorced wife after she remarries? (24:4)
How much inheritance does a bechor (first born male) get? (21:17) What is the punishment for kidnapping? (24:7)
Kinder Torah Copyright 2004 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman
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