By Five Towns Marriage Initiative
In Parashas Ki Seitzei, a ben sorer u’moreh the wayward son, is discussed. Kli Yakar quotes the Gemara in Sanhedrin which says that this kind of situation, with the specific details it would require, never was and never will be. So, what is the point of dedicating space in the Torah for it? Also, it is strange that there is an emphasis on all of the Jewish people seeing and being afraid, more so than with other commandments.
One possible explanation is that the purpose is for sons to learn this, be afraid, and stay away from becoming that kind of wayward son, pushing them to be extra careful with their parents’ honor.
But if this is the reason for the wayward son, it still leaves a question, because the emphasis should have been on the sons taking a lesson and being afraid, as opposed to the whole Jewish nation.
The Kli Yakar explains that the proper way to understand this whole topic is according to the Zohar, which explains that the portion teaches a lesson to the sons of Hashem, meaning the entire Jewish nation. When a Jew hears that he is called a son of Hashem, he might take it to heart and feel safe from punishment because he is Hashem’s son, as Moshe described the people as sons that had rebelled.
In the past, the Jews had relied on their cherished status as Hashem’s children to commit countless sins, hoping that they would not have to face justice. Therefore, the Torah included this topic of the wayward son to show that even a father has no choice but to bring his son to a Jewish court if he acted like a wayward son, and to ultimately bring him to justice if necessary. And so it is in the heavenly court as well. Every Jew should know that there will be an accounting for his deeds.
This is a powerful concept to take to heart in the month of Elul, when we account for what we have done and work on improving to make ourselves worthy of being judged as one of the righteous. Setting a tone of introspection and solemnity in the home is a job to be done by both spouses together. This can be done by learning something about repentance at each meal, discussing the topic before going to sleep, or placing an emphasis on repentance, prayer, and charity as a means of obtaining forgiveness. Creating the correct atmosphere in the home for this time of year will go a long way in ensuring that the entire family will merit peace and harmony, health, and happiness for the year to come. v
Five Towns Marriage Initiative provides educational programs, workshops, and referrals to top marriage therapists. FTMI will help offset counseling costs when necessary and also runs an anonymous shalom bayis hotline for the entire community Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings, 10:00–11:00 p.m. For the hotline or for more information, call 516-430-5280 or e‑mail firstname.lastname@example.org.