D’var Torah: Parashat Ki Teitzei
In this week’s D’var Torah for Ki Teitzei, the Chief Rabbi explains the importance of parents speaking with one voice.
“Such a person has never existed and will never exist.” That is how the Gemara, in Masechet Sanhedrin, explains the phenomenon of the ‘Ben Sorer U’Moreh’ – The Rebellious Child, presented to us in Parashat Ki Teitzei. So why then are details of this phenomenon given in the Torah at all? The Gemara explains – in order that we should learn lessons therefrom.
The Kli Yakar explains that it is for children to learn lessons from the ‘Ben Sorer U’Moreh’, while the Maharsha believes it is for parents to learn the lessons. The ‘Ben Sorer U’Moreh’ was such a rebellious child, such a monstrous individual, that his very existence presented a threat to the world.
But the Torah tells us of this hypothetical child, that the parents come before the elders of the city and they declare “B’neinu Zeh Sorer U’Moreh – This child of ours is out-rightly rebellious and monstrous” “Einenu Shameya B’Kaleynu – He doesn’t listen to our voice.”
The Gemara picks up on the fact that the parents do not say “He doesn’t listen to our voices” but rather they say, “He doesn’t listen to our voice.” If they had said “He does not listen to our voices” then that child would not be ‘Ben Sorer U’Moreh’.
What is the explanation? You see, the Gemara explains that in the event that there are mixed messages within that home, different voices coming from mother and father, it would not be a surprise to find that the child would be somewhat mixed up and might therefore be rebellious. But since, in this case, they are speaking with a ‘single voice’ and he is rebellious nonetheless, therefore this must be a reflection not on the parents, but on the child and he is the ‘Ben Sorer U’Moreh’.
The O’lelot Ephraim teaches us that there is so much that we can learn, in every single generation from this passage. It is important for parents to convey clear messages to their children. When it comes to matters pertaining discipline, our values, our faith, let there be clarity within the home. And once one has that clarity, within a beautiful and happy home environment, one can raise children who will, please God, be a great credit to them.
The ‘Ben Sorer U’Moreh’ has never been and will never be, but there is a great deal that we can learn from him.