Thursday, September 04, 2003

Parshat Ki Teitzei #3: Ben Sorer UMoreh take 2: why?

Note: although this starts the same as the previous dvar torah, it is a different dvar torah.

Parshat Ki Teitzei contains the law of the Ben Sorer UMoreh, the rebellious son, who is executed for his rebellion, something which is very hard to comprehend. The psukim, Devarim 21:18-21, states:

כִּי-יִהְיֶה לְאִישׁ, בֵּן סוֹרֵר וּמוֹרֶה--אֵינֶנּוּ שֹׁמֵעַ, בְּקוֹל אָבִיו וּבְקוֹל אִמּוֹ; וְיִסְּרוּ אֹתוֹ, וְלֹא יִשְׁמַע אֲלֵיהֶם.
וְתָפְשׂוּ בוֹ, אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ; וְהוֹצִיאוּ אֹתוֹ אֶל-זִקְנֵי עִירוֹ, וְאֶל-שַׁעַר מְקֹמוֹ.
וְאָמְרוּ אֶל-זִקְנֵי עִירוֹ, בְּנֵנוּ זֶה סוֹרֵר וּמֹרֶה--אֵינֶנּוּ שֹׁמֵעַ, בְּקֹלֵנוּ; זוֹלֵל, וְסֹבֵא.
וּרְגָמֻהוּ כָּל-אַנְשֵׁי עִירוֹ בָאֲבָנִים, וָמֵת, וּבִעַרְתָּ הָרָע, מִקִּרְבֶּךָ; וְכָל-יִשְׂרָאֵל, יִשְׁמְעוּ וְיִרָאוּ.

"If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, that will not hearken to the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and though they chasten him, will not hearken unto them;

then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;

and they shall say unto the elders of his city: 'This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he doth not hearken to our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.'

And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die; so shalt thou put away the evil from the midst of thee; and all Israel shall hear, and fear."

What in the world can a son do to deserve this death penalty? He's a drunkard? A glutton? He does not listen to his parents? It is very strange, and does not fit into what we expect the Torah would say in terms of crime and punishment. This seems unduly harsh.

On a non-halachic basis, here is a suggestion. The 10 commandments say "Honor your father and mother." Kabed Et Avicha VeEt Imecha. The word honor, kabed, KBD, is the same root as "heavy" (Kaved).

Elsewhere we see a death penalty for cursing a parent.
Shmot 21:17 states, "וּמְקַלֵּל אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ, מוֹת יוּמָת", "And he that curseth his father or his mother, shall surely be put to death."

Now, the root for curse, "KLL," is the same root as light, (Kal), as apposed to heavy. If so, it might also function as the opposite of honoring, that is, dishonoring or treating lightly. Just as dishonoring or treating lightly the word of a king is a capital offense, perhaps treating lightly the ruler of the family unit is also a capital offense, when it goes to the extreme of ignoring instruction of your parents and instead being a drunkard and glutton. This treats the parent lightly, and is the opposite of giving them honor. Perhaps we thus have a hint elsewhere of the ben sorer umoreh.

Of course, from a practical, halachic perspective, mekalel is taken to mean curse. Further, ben sorer umoreh is a more extreme case than this.

Update: I'm fairly certain that ths dvar torah and the one preceding it are based in large part, if not in their entirety, on things I heard in class in Revel with Dr. Eichler.

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin