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Browse Torah Articles: Sefer Devarim: Parashat Ki Tesse: Can Ben Sorrer Happen?
"If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not listen to the voice of his father and the voice of his mother and when they discipline him he does not listen to them, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, "This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard." Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid." (Devarim 21:18-21)

According to the authoritative opinion in the Gemara, this episode of Ben Sorer OuMoreh has never and will never occur. This is mainly because the halacha dictates that many details are required in order for these laws to be taken to action. Consequentially, many rabbis ask: If such a case will never occur, why does the Torah spend valuable real estate on discussing a Ben Sorer OuMoreh?

Just because the actual case may never occur, does not mean that we cannot find what to learn from the case. And indeed, if we carefully analyze the verses above, we can find an important lesson for ourselves and families as Rosh Hashanah approaches.

The verses above flip-flop in the method the parents of the child are described. First, the Torah states "If a man has a . son", yet later the verses explain that son is also not listen to the mother. Why is she excluded in the first verse? In addition, the verse is repetitive in saying that the son "does not listen to the voice of his father and the voice of this mother" instead of simply saying "their voice." Moreover, the next verse groups the parents together by saying "They shall say to the elders."

What is actually being conveyed here? Why are the verses written in such a way?

We can postulate that a son comes out in such a terrible way, stealing money from his parents and purchasing large amount of wine and meat, because of the way the child was raised. The parents are in direct fault, especially because we are talking about a child who has not yet reached the age of bar misvah. What lesson can we learn?

If the family is set up so that only one parent is a true parent, it cannot work. If a family has a mother and father who have separate "voices" in how to raise a child, it cannot work. If parents only act united when before other people (elders), yet at home are at opposing ends how to raise the children, it cannot work. And most importantly, if even one parent preaches one way, yet sets the example differently, it cannot work. Raising children the right way is difficult.

This is what we learn from the verses. Parents who are adamant their child passing Gemara and Halacha with flying colors, but who are silent in the summertime and allow nearly 3 months to go by without their child opening a book, are sending two messages. A parent who insists on a child going to a tutor, showing how important learning is outside of school, yet decides to also book tickets to a basketball game the same night as the tutoring is also sending dual messages. We need to be a companion to our children, setting uniform guidelines, and encouraging their growth in a positive way.w.chkbnr.
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