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Friday, August 28, 2015

Parashat Ki Tetze 5775


Our parasha teaches us the rule of a rebellious and wayward child. The parents of the child bring him or her to the city gates to be stoned. But did such a child ever exist?
דברים פרשת כי תצא פרק כא
Deuteronomy Chapter 21
(18) If a man has a rebellious and wayward child - who does not listen to the voice of his father and the voice of his mother - and they discipline him and he does not listen to them.
(יח) כִּי־יִהְיֶה לְאִישׁ בֵּן סוֹרֵר וּמוֹרֶה אֵינֶנּוּ שֹׁמֵעַ בְּקוֹל אָבִיו וּבְקוֹל אִמּוֹ וְיִסְּרוּ אֹתוֹ וְלֹא יִשְׁמַע אֲלֵיהֶם:
(19) They should grab hold of him - his father and mother - and bring him the elder of his city and to the gate of his place.
(יט) וְתָפְשׂוּ בוֹ אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ וְהוֹצִיאוּ אֹתוֹ אֶל־זִקְנֵי עִירוֹ וְאֶל־שַׁעַר מְקֹמוֹ:
(20) Then they shall say to the elders of the city, “This son of ours is rebellious and wayward; he does not listen to our voices; he is a glutton and drunkard.”
(כ) וְאָמְרוּ אֶל־זִקְנֵי עִירוֹ בְּנֵנוּ זֶה סוֹרֵר וּמֹרֶה אֵינֶנּוּ שֹׁמֵעַ בְּקֹלֵנוּ זוֹלֵל וְסֹבֵא:
(21) Then all the people of his city shall stone him and he will die; and you shall remove the evil from your midst; then all of Israel will hear and be afraid.
(כא) וּרְגָמֻהוּ כָּל־אַנְשֵׁי עִירוֹ בָאֲבָנִים וָמֵת וּבִעַרְתָּ הָרָע מִקִּרְבֶּךָ וְכָל־יִשְׂרָאֵל יִשְׁמְעוּ וְיִרָאוּ: ס

The Rabbinic tradition on the rebellious and wayward child severely limits the case to a child (and parents) who meet very specific criteria. It also tells us such a child is killed not for what he has done but is killed before he commits truly egregious crimes.

משנה מסכת סנהדרין פרק ח, משנה ה
Mishna, Tractate Sanhedrin, Chapter 8, Mishna 5
A stubborn and rebellious child is judged based on his end so that he will die innocent and will not die corrupt
בן סורר ומורה נדון על שם סופו ימות זכאי ואל ימות חייב


The Talmud finishes off our topic with three traditions of cases in the Torah that never have nor will happen: our case, the case of a wayward city (עור הנדחת) which is to be burnt to the ground, and the case of a house struck with some sort of disease (בית המנגע) which is supposed to be destroyed. In each case we are told the reason the Torah wrote about a situation that would never occur was for us to expound on it and receive reward. And in each case there is a dissenting opinion based on testimony of someone who saw proof of the existence of such an occurrence. Here I only bring our case.
תלמוד בבלי מסכת סנהדרין דף עא עמוד א
Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 71a
כמאן אזלא הא דתניא: בן סורר ומורה לא היה ולא עתיד להיות, ולמה נכתב - דרוש וקבל שכר, כמאן? כרבי יהודה, איבעית אימא: רבי שמעון היא, דתניא, אמר רבי שמעון: וכי מפני שאכל זה תרטימר בשר ושתה חצי לוג יין האיטלקי אביו ואמו מוציאין אותו לסקלו? אלא לא היה ולא עתיד להיות, ולמה נכתב - דרוש וקבל שכר. אמר רבי יונתן: אני ראיתיו, וישבתי על קברו.
Who does the following teaching follow: “A rebellious and wayward child never was and never will be. So why was it written? To expound and receive reward.” Like whom? Like Rebbi Yehuda. But if you want to say, it is Rebbi Shimon. As it was taught, Rebbi Shimon said, “For merely eating a tartimar of meat and drinking a half a log of Italian wine his father and mother take him out to stone him? Rather, he never was nor never will be. So why is it written? To expound on it and receive reward.” Said Rebbi Yonatan, “I saw him and I sat on his grave.”

So did such a child exist or not?

The Palestinian Talmud gives us a sense of what it means for something to never have been nor never be. It shares two opinions of Rebbi Shimon son of Lakish who says both that Job never existed and that he existed at the time of Abraham. It explains that he existed but the stories of his sufferings were not real. This might start to point us to the existence of a rebellious and wayward son but maybe not one who played out with all the details in the Torah.
תלמוד ירושלמי (וילנא) מסכת סוטה פרק ה, הלכה ו
Palestinian Talmud (Vilna Edition), Tractate Sotah, Chapter 5, Halakha 6
Rebbi Shimon son of Lakish said, “Job never was and never will be.”
רבי שמעון בן לקיש אמר איוב לא היה ולא עתיד להיות.
Switch the approach of Rebbi Shimon son of Lakish. There Rebbi Shimon son of Lakish said in the name of the son of Kafra, “He existed at the time of Abraham our father.” But here he says thus.
מחלפה שיטתיה דר' שמעון בן לקיש. תמן אמר רבי שמעון בן לקיש בשם בר קפרא בימי אברהם אבינו היה והכא הוא אמר הכין
Rather, he existed but the tribulations did not happen. Then why were they written about regarding him. To tell you that if they had happened to him he could have withstood them.
אלא הוא היה וייסורין לא היו. ולמה נכתבו עליו אלא לומר שאילולי באו עליו היה יכול לעמוד בהן.

The Yad Ramah seems to think even though it is hard to have a technically rebellious and wayward child, it nonetheless happens. He seems to take the side of Rebbi Yonatan. The parents recognize what will happen to such a child if allowed to live.
יד רמ"ה מסכת סנהדרין דף עא עמוד א
Yad Ramah, Tractate Sanhedrin 71a
Meir Abulafia, 12th and 13th Centuries Spain
אבל לרבנן אע"ג דאינו נעשה בן סורר ומורה עד שיהו שניהם רוצים קסברי רבנן דלאו מילתא דלאו שכיחא היא דליתו ליה למרגמיה משום דמסקי אדעתייהו מאי סלקא ביה לבסוף:
But to our Rabbis, even though he does not become a rebellious and wayward child until both [of his parents] desire it, our Rabbis figure that it is not an uncommon event for them to bring him for stoning since it occurs to them what will happen to him at the end.

The Ravaz mentions a point that makes the entire testimony of Rebbi Yonatan difficult. Rebbi Yonatan was a kohen so how could he have sat upon the grave of the rebellious and wayward child? He suggests that there was a second Rebbi Yonatan who was not a kohen. However, this might tip the argument in favor of those who dismiss Rebbi Yonatan and believe there really never was a rebellious and wayward child.
שו"ת הרב"ז חלק ג (חושן משפט) סימן נה
Responsa of the Ravaz, Part 3 (Choshen Misphat), Siman 55
Betzalel Safran
What is obvious to me is that Rebbi Yonatan was a kohen. To me it is a good challenge from that in Sanhedrin, “Said Rebbi Yonantan, ‘I saw him and I sat on the grave of the rebellious and wayward child.’”
מה דפשיטא לי' דר' יונתן כהן היה, לדידי מיבעי לי טובא, דהא בסנהדרין (ע"א עמוד א') "אמר ר' יונתן אני ראיתיו וישבתי על קברו של בן סורר ומורה".
But if we say he was a kohen, what is a kohen doing in the graveyard of a rebellious and wayward child?
ואם נימא דכהן היה, מה לכהן בבית הקברות של בן סורר ומורה.
But I found in the book, Seder HaDorot, that he wrote that truly that, “There were to Rebbi Yonatans; one was a kohen and one was not a kohen,” see there.
ומצאתי בס' "סדר הדורות", שכתב באמת כי "שני ר' יונתן הוו, אחד היה כהן, ואחד לא היה כהן" ע"ש.

Rabbenu Bachya explains that the portion on the rebellious and wayward child is to teach us that our love for God should overcome all other loves including that for a child. Further, he suggests that Rebbi Yonatan did not actually see the grave of a child who truly fell into this category, but rather one similar to it like Avshalom the son of David who rebelled against his father in adulthood. This somewhat reconciles Rebbi Yonatan with the idea that such a child never existed.
רבינו בחיי דברים פרשת כי תצא פרק כא
Rabbenu Bachya, Deuteronomy Chapter 21
Bachya ben Asher, 13th and 14th Centuries Spain
Said our Rabbis, of blessed memory, that this law of the rebellious and wayward child never occurred. And that is what we find in the chapter Ben Sorer u’Moreh: “It was taught, the rebellious and wayward child and the wayward city never were and never will be. And why are they written? Expound and receive reward.”
אמרו רז"ל (סנהדרין עא א) כי דין זה של סורר ומורה לא אירע מעולם, והוא שתמצא בפרק בן סורר ומורה: תניא בן סורר ומורה ועיר הנדחת לא היו ולא עתידין להיות, ולמה נכתבו, דרוש וקבל שכר.
And if so, one must ask: why did the Torah need to inform us and write about what never was, and that our matter never happens in the way of the world? But this is the wisdom of the Torah to teach the thinking of the nation in the great obligation of the love of Hashem, may He be exalted. For there is no strong love in the world like the love of a father and mother for a child. So when the child transgresses on a commandment of Hashem, may He be exalted, and it is the path of foolishness for him, they are obligated to make the love for Hashem, may He be exalted, stronger for them than the love of the child such that they themselves need to bring him to the court for stoning.
וא"כ יש לשאול: מפני מה הוצרכה תורה להודיע ולכתוב מה שלא היה, ומה שאין ענינו נוהג בדרך העולם, אבל זה היה מחכמת התורה ללמד דעת את העם בגודל חיוב אהבת הש"י, שהרי אין לך אהבה חזקה בעולם כאהבת האב והאם לבן, וכיון שהבן עובר על מצות השם יתעלה, וזה דרכו כסל לו, חייבין הם שתגבר עליהם אהבת הש"י על אהבת הבן עד שיצטרכו להביא אותו הם בעצמן לב"ד לסקילה.
And long ago this matter occurred - in the great obligation of love for Hashem, may He be exalted -  explicitly in the Torah in the matter of the binding [of Isaac]. For Abraham, had his love for Isaac been steadfast and strong as a child who came to him after old age and despair, nonetheless when He commanded him [Abraham] to sacrifice him [Isaac] as an olah [completely burned sacrifice], he worked assiduously at the matter immediately. And his love for Hashem, may He be exalted, triumphed over his love for Isaac. And on the completion of this step he was called, “Abraham My love,” (Isaiah 41:8). Then it was advertised to the entire world the great obligation of love for Hashem, may He be exalted, that it is fit to overcome all types of love, and for this they said, “Expound on it and receive reward.” Such I heard from my Rav, Rav Shimon, my teacher, that he shall remain alive.
וכבר בא הענין הזה בחיוב גודל אהבה להש"י מפורש בתורה בענין העקדה, כי אברהם עם היות אהבתו של יצחק עזה וחזקה כבן שבא אליו אחר הזקנה והיאוש, אעפ"כ כשצוהו להקריבו עולה טרח בדבר מיד, והגביר אהבת הש"י על אהבתו של יצחק, ועל שלמות המעלה הזאת קראו: "אברהם אוהבי" (ישעיה מא, ח), ואז נתפרסם לכל העולם גודל חיוב האהבה לשם יתעלה שהיא ראויה לעבור כל מיני אהבה, ומזה אמרו: דרוש וקבל שכר. כך שמעתי מפי הרב ר"ש מורי שיחיה.
And what is found there, “Said Rebbi Yochanan, ‘I sat on the grave of the rebellious and wayward son and on the heap of the wayward city,” it is possible to say that he argues with the braitta. Or, perhaps that according to Rebbi Yochanan there was never a complete rebellious and wayward child, but rather like the matter of Avshalom. But there was never a complete wayward and rebellious child like the strict law in the Torah whose end is stoning.
ומה שנמצא שם: אמר ר' יוחנן אני ישבתי על קברו של בן סורר ומורה ועל תלה של עיר הנדחת, אפשר לומר דפליג אברייתא, או שמא הא דר' יוחנן לא היה בן סורר ומורה גמור אלא כענין אבשלום, אבל לא היה בן סורר ומורה גמור כדין תורה שנגמר לסקילה.

The Daf al HaDaf presents a piece from the Chatam Sofer that what Rebbi Yonatan actually saw was the grave of someone who should have been judged as a rebellious and wayward child but was not and later in life was killed for committing more serious crimes. Further, there are many such children, but their parents just are not willing to bring such children for judgement. This seems in conflict with the Yad Ramah who thinks that it is common for parents to bring their children to court.
דף על הדף סנהדרין דף עא עמוד א
Daf al HaDaf, Sanhedrin 71a
David Mendelbaum, et al, 20th Century Israel
However, the Chatam Sofer explains in an amazing way, that which Rebbi Shimon thinks that he never was and never will be cannot be.
אולם החת"ס מבאר באופן נפלא, דמה שס"ל לר"ש שלא היה ולא עתיד להיות אי"ז
For it is not possible in reality that parents would bring their child for stoning. Rather, expound and receive reward that a even though his punishment is just and the Sages knew that in the end he would become a violent robber of others, nonetheless they had impossible conditions in concluding the judgement of one as a rebellious and wayward child such that in actuality he remains alive even though it was fit to kill him. And his end proves his beginning such that all who see him will say, “It is too bad they did not bring him to kill him already in his youth.”
כי לא יתכן מציאות שהורים יביאו את בנם לסקילה, אלא דרוש וקבל שכר שבן כזה אף כי עונשו מוצדק וידעו חכמים כי בסופו ילסטם הבריות מ"מ ישנם תנאים בלתי אפשריים לקביעת דינו כבן סורר ומורה כדי שלמעשה ישאר בחיים אף שהיה מן הראוי להורגו, וסופו יוכיח על תחילתו עד שכל רואיו יאמרו חבל שלא הוציאוהו להורג כבר בצעירותו.
And this is also what Rebbi Yonatan said, that he saw with his eyes the rebellious and wayward child who in his youth merely stole and was a glutton, but after many years “I sat on his grave.” That after he violently robbed people and was brought to be killed, I [Rebbi Yonaton] was able to testify that the judgements of Hashem are true. And this is the truth that it would have been better had he died innocent and not died corrupt.
וזה מה שאמר גם ר' יונתן, שהוא ראה בעיניו את הבן סורר שבצעירותו רק גנב וזלל וברבות השנים "ישבתי על קברו" - לאחר שלסטם את הבריות והוצא להורג, יכולני להעיד כי משפטי ה' אמת, וזו האמת שהיה מוטב שימות זכאי ואל ימות חייב.

The Kil Yakar seems to accept that such a case never actually existed. Based on the verses, he thinks this never occurred because people will read this parasha and be afraid enough to check their actions and children will therefore never become so bad. He does not clarify why this parsha might be better at preventing sin than others. I might suggest that maybe since there is already a fear of children to upset their parents too much they are more amenable to being affected by this set of verses than people are by other, though I do not know that I am fully convinced.
כלי יקר דברים פרשת  כי תצא פרק כא
Kli Yakar, Deuteronomy Chapter 21
Shlomo Ephraim Luntschitz, 16th and 17th Centuries Poland
Nonetheless, the obligation to explain this matter falls upon us: why did the Torah write about a matter that never occurs? It is also [necessary] to consider what is written here, “Then all of Israel will hear and be afraid,” more so than other detailed commandments. Further, why is it not stated here, “Then they will not willfully sin anymore,” as is written in parashat Shof’tim (Deuteronomy 17:13).
ומכל מקום חל עלינו חובת ביאור דבר זה למה כתבה תורה דבר שאינו בנמצא כלל. גם יש להתבונן במה שנאמר כאן וכל ישראל ישמעו ויראו יותר מבשאר מצוות פרטיות. ועוד למה לא נאמר כאן ולא יזידון עוד כמו שנאמר בפרשת שופטים (דברים יז יג).
And perhaps the reason for the matter that a rebellious and wayward child never was and never will be is that this portion was only written such that children will hear and be afraid and not act in such a manner. And that which it said, “Then all of Israel will hear,” is that they will hear this portion and the written rule in it. Then the children will fear to mar the honor  of the father and mother.
ואולי טעמו של דבר לפי שבן סורר ומורה לא היה ולא יהיה ולא נכתבה הפרשה כי אם כדי שישמעו הבנים ויראו ולא יעשו כדבר הזה, ומה שאמר וכל ישראל ישמעו היינו שישמעו פרשה זו ומשפט הכתוב בה ויראו הבנים מלמרות עיני כבודם של אב ואם.
Therefore it was not stated, “Then they will not willfully sin anymore,” for the language of “anymore,” instructs about a matter that has happened in the past such that it will no longer happen. But this is not the case [here], for the rebellious and wayward child never happened ever. And this portion was only written to cast dread and fear on children.
ולכך לא נאמר ולא יזידון עוד, כי לשון עוד מורה על דבר הנעשה כבר שלא יהיה נעשה עוד וזה אינו שהרי בן סורר ומורה לא היה דברים מעולם ולא נכתבה פרשה זו כי אם להפיל אימתה ופחד על הבנים:

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