|The Profundities of Torah-Ki Teitzei-Close Only Counts in Horse Shoes|
|Written by HaRav Yochanan Zweig|
“All of the men of his city shall stone him and he shall die; and you shall remove the evil from your midst; and all of Israel shall hear and they shall fear” (21:21) The Torah instructs us how to deal appropriately with a “ben sorer u’moreh” - a wayward and rebellious son. If the child fits all of the criteria required to be labeled as a ben sorer u’moreh, he is executed.
The Talmud comments that because of the many detailed requirements which are necessary, the occurrence of a ben sorer u’moreh is impossible. The Talmud cites a conflicting opinion, that of Rabbi Yonasan, who states that he sat upon the grave of a ben sorer u’moreh.1 Some commentaries explain that Rabbi Yonasan’s words should not be taken literally, rather that Rabbi Yonasan is stating that he knew a situation where a child met almost all of the requirements needed to be labeled a ben sorer u’moreh. As a proof, they cite the fact that Rabbi Yonasan was a Kohein, and therefore, his words cannot be taken literally, for a Kohein is prohibited to come into contact with a grave.2 What requires explanation is: If Rabbi Yonasan found a child who met almost all the necessary requirements, how can Chazal be sure that such a case will never happen?
The Talmud teaches that there are four capitol cases in the Torah in which, after the execution of the guilty party, “hachraza” - “a public announcement” is required, stating the person’s name and the crime for which he was executed.3 The stated purpose for these announcements is to instill fear into the populace, thereby preventing a repeat occurrence of the transgression. On three out of the four occasions that the Torah describes the “hachraza” process, the verse concludes “velo yosifu la’asos” or “velo y’zidun od” - “so that this will never happen again”. The lone case where this statement is not recorded is that of “ben sorer umoreh”.4 It is from this omission that the Talmud derives the impossibility of an actual case. There is no need to comment that this will never happen again, for it could never have happened the first time.
1.Sanhedrin 71a 2.See Einayim Lamishpat ibid 3.Sanhedrin 81a 4.See Devarim 13:12, 17:13, 21:18, 21:21
Question of the Week:
The Torah specifies a newlywed as being exempt from military service for a year, so that he may bring joy to his wife. Rashi cites the Targum Yonasan who translates the verse as “He shall be joyful with his wife.” Rashi comments that this interpretation is incorrect, for the verse is stating that a husband should make his wife happy, not that he should be happy with her. Why is the obligation to make her happy, and not to be happy with her?