Monday, September 8, 2008

Ki Seitzei, Devarim 21:18 Ben Soreir u’Moreh

Rav Schwab brings the Gemora in Sanhedrin 71 that holds there was never a Ben Soreir u’Moreh, and there was never an Ir Hanidachas. According to this view, the minute legal requirements, the many exceptions, and the procedural rules that are necessary for a finding of Ben Soreir or for Ir Hanidachas are so numerous, specific and detailed that such findings are practical impossibilities. (Examples: If there is one Mezuza in the city, it cannot be classified an Ir Hanidachas; If the parents' voices have different tones, the son cannot be found to be a Ben Soreir.) R Yonoson argues with the first opinion of the Gemara, and says that he himself saw the ben sorer and sat on his grave, and that he himself saw an ir hanidachas and sat on its pile of ash after is was destroyed.

R Schwab remarks that this is quite a coincidence, that two occurrences that were so vanishingly rare, to the point that everyone else thought they couldn't exist, davka Reb Yonasan sat on them.

He explains that what Reb Yonasan means is what the Gemara in Sanhedrin 37b says-- that even though missas beis din is bateil, our courts are no longer empowered to administer the capital punishment described in the Torah, din missas beis din is not bateil, the reality of those forms of punishment remains true. If someone deserves a particular missas beis din, Hashem will arrange for him an accident that embodies the punishment he deserved. Here, too, R Yonason meant that he saw the grave of a 13 year old boy and the ruins of a city, and he realized that these tragic events had taken place because the boy and the city deserved the punishment of a Ben Sorer u’Moreh or an Ir Hanidachas.

The Chasam Sofer, also writing on this week’s parsha, lends names and resonance to Rav Schwab’s idea.

In Passuk 21:11, discussing the surprising legalization of violently taking a battlefield bride, the Yefas To’ar, Rashi brings from the Gemara in Kiddushin 19 that the legalization does not diminish the spiritual danger engendered by this behavior. Rashi says that if one takes a Yefas Toar, eventually he will hate her; and ultimately he will father with her a Ben Sorer u’Moreh.
The statistical association between a dsyfunctional parental matrix and criminal tendency of the children is the subject of Steven Levitt's book, Freakonomics, and earlier papers.
The Chasam Sofer says that if we think carefully about this, we will realize that we are all familiar with a historical example of precisely this turn of events.

Chazal tell us that Avshalom, David Hamelech's son, was born from a Yefas To'ar; Maachah, the daughter of the king of Geshur, was a Yefas To’ar that David Hamelech took as a wife. And what happened to Avshalom? Eventually, he attempted to unseat his father and take the throne, and David fled, in fear of his life, from his own son, Avshalom. (By the way, Barzilai was one of the good guys in this episode.) When Avshalom’s rebellion was defeated, and he in turn fled David’s men, his nazir-hair became entangled in a low branch, and when his donkey ran off, he remained suspended in the air, where he was soon killed by Yoav, David’s nephew and the General of his army. The Chasam Sofer points out that the ultimate end of Avshalom, the son of the Yefas To’ar, was "vesalisa oso ahl eitz," just like a Ben Soreir u’Moreh. Although the passuk (21:21) mentions sekilla for Ben Soreir, Chazal tell us that "kol haniskalin nitlin," that all those who are executed by sekilla are afterwards hanged. Now, it is true that the hanging of Avshalom is different in many respects from the hanging of a person who had Sekilla: a niskal's hanging is only after he is killed, while here, the killing was by the sword of Yoav while he was hanging. This doesn't matter. The point is that the literal meaning of the nitlin was arranged for Avshalom. The particular laws and methods of sekilla are not important; the crux of both Rav Schwab's and the Chasam Sofer's divrei Torah is that one way or another, the immutable and inexorable words of the Torah will engineer their fufillment.

The Baal Haturim here, by the way, notes that the gematria of 'Soreir' equals 'Zeh Avshalom ben David.'

Harav Shimon Krasner, the celebrated author of the renowned and encyclopedic Nachalas Shimon on Tanach, is currently staying at my house. He pointed out two interesting things. 1. Rashi's statement that Kol haniskalin nitlin is immediately disputed by the Ramban. The Ramban says that this is a daas yachid, of Rebbi Eliezer. We pasken like the Chachamim, the rabbim, who say that only the niskalin of Avodah Zarah and Megadeif are nitleh. 2. As I mention above, the hanging of Avshalom was not the tli'ah that Beis Din does after sekillah. The teli'ah of Beis Din is only after the man is dead, and it is certainly not a means of killing him, nor is he hanged and then killed while he is hanging. Rabbi Krasner pointed out that in EH 17, the Turei Zahav sk 43 brings a discussion of whether testimony that a man was hanged by the government is accepted as final evidence that the man is now dead. The Turei Zahav discusses the habit of some governments to hang the man and to kill him while he is hanging by impaling him with spears or cutting him with swords; he also brings the Targum in Rus that seems to say that hanging is one of the four misos beis din, implying that the missa we call Chenek involved killing the prisoner by hanging. This is contrary to all of Shas Bavli and Yerushalmi. In back of of the Shulchan Aruch, there is a pirush called Lishkas Hasofrim, written by a talmid of the Chasam Sofer. He quotes the Chasam Sofer as saying that for all we know, the Targum on Rus may have been written by a Tzeduki, so forget about bringing proofs from such Targumim. The really funny thing is that Rabbi Krasner says that it's not just the Targum Rus; there's also a Zohar that says the same thing.

Reb Chaim Stein Shlitah once told my father Zatzal that he thinks the reason there is no such thing as Bas Soreres Umorah is because Nashim Daatan Kalos has a positive aspect. While a older boy who has demonstrated such rotten middos is on a clear trajectory to terrible aveiros, this is not true in the case of a girl. No matter how bad she might be now, a girl has the ability to completely turn her life around, to change her mind letov.

Encouraged (badgered? harassed?) by Chaim B and various anonymi, let me clarify the last paragraph.
The Gemara in Sanhedrin 69b ends by quoting Reb Shimon as saying that logically, girls should be included in the law of Ben Soreir Umoreh, because they can more easily become public nuisances when they have lost their moral compass and are driven by improper compulsions and illicit desires. But the Torah clearly states the contrary-- ben, not bas. Additionally, the Yerushalmi, quoted by Kehati in his pirush to Sanhadrin 8:5 (and with some changes in the Meiri on the Mishnah on 68b,), says that the whole parsha of Ben Sorer UMoreh is counterintuitive and obscure, and one of the examples given is the limitation to boys and the exclusion of girls. However, the Meiri does offer a reason for excluding girls-- the Torah is more concerned with a person who by nature will be drawn after his desires and to sink into them, and this is not true by girls, but only by boys. So: if you're happy with the Meiri's contention that boys are more prone to going bad than girls are, and greater deterrents are necessary for more likely crimes, then you don't need Reb Chaim Stein's pshat. I, however, like Reb Chaim's pshat very much; that men tend to be less willing to change their minds than women; a man's trajectory can, at some point, be practically unchangeable. La Donna e mobile qual piuma al vento can be a good thing.


  1. I just saw an amazing Thought on this topic. I think it was a Kli Yakar In Yerushlayim There can not be A Ben-Sorer-Umorah. In a place with so much meat for Korbonos, and so much wine for Nesachim whats A boy to do!?

  2. I'm happy to hear that, because sometimes I'm at a restaurant and I think to myself that if not for the age difference, those people over there would be in the parsha of Ben Sorer Umoreh on the basis of zoleil vesovei.

  3. Rabbenu Bacchyeh says the torah specifies Ben because the Husband of course Married a gentile he saw at war and will say its her Genes so the torah is telling you no its your Ben who is the Sorer Umorah because you went after your Taivos. By the way the sence of smell is also in the Kav Hayashar (A Yekki)and it is a gemurah in Brachos.

  4. >>>there is no such thing as Bas Soreres Umorah

    Why there is no bas soreh u'moreh is asked by the Yerushalmi. It's quoted by Kehati in his into to Sanhedrin 8:5.

  5. I am Just writting the Vort Rabbenu Bachayah says I am not agrguing that point

  6. I don't know - I find it a bit strange that R' Chaim Stein needs to come up with sevara when the Yerushalmi clearly ascribes the whole ben v'lo bas idea to gezerias hakasuv. I have always like this Y-lmi because the question of "why does this mitzvah apply to boys and not girls" is common in so many areas. I find most rationalizations offered in these areas to be flimsy and without much value. The Y-lmi is easier to digest - ain hachi nami, there should al pi sevara be no difference, but Hashem decided to do thinks this way, end of story.

  7. Because, Chaim, if we hold like Reb Shimon that the whole parsha is drosh vekabeil schar, it is impossible to just say Oh, it's a gzeiras hakosuv. Bishlema if it's a real din, then fine. But if the whole purpose is to darshen, then it has to have some rational coherence.

    And I know you won't be nispo'eil from my pointing out that Rabbeinu Bachay and the Meiri both do say pshatim in "velo bas." That could be drush. But, as I said, it's possible that those that say ta'amim hold it's drosh vekabeil schar, and the Yerushalmi is going like the shittah of Reb Yonasan, that it's an actual din.

    And speaking of taamei hadinim, you know that the Ramban and many others talk about why is it that "ka'asher zomam velo ka'asher assa," even though that's not a din at all, it's just an ein onshin min hadin limitation on using a kal vachomer.

  8. >>>But if the whole purpose is to darshen, then it has to have some rational coherence.

    I don't think that's true. You understand 'derush' in the sense of conveying some philosophical meaning. I read 'derush' in the sense of halachic derush. The parsha exists simply to allow for the exercise of halachic exegesis for its own sake. Call it a precursor of pilpul if you like. It need not lead to any deeper meaning other than revealing the halachic framework.
    See R' Soloveitchik's Halakhic Man p. 23-24 citing "derush v'kabeil schar".

  9. Speaking of Drush, does it strike anyone but me strange that the Ben Sorer Umorer has to eat Bassar Vayayin and the People who are supposed to learn Kabbalah are supposed to have The same qualification?

  10. Anonymous Drush Dropper GuySeptember 12, 2008 at 3:23 AM

    If in order to be Koneh a Metziah that you find in the street you need the Person to do Yiush, the problem is when you find money on the street you cant be Koneh becuase the wife May have Lost it and the Baal who the Money belongs too does not do Yiush as he does not know. Nireh Li-once you give it to your wife there is yiush from ever getting it Back~(;
    Just a Gra to cap it off Bechor is spelled without a vov in this weeks Pasha why? well from Aleph to Beis is double from Yud to Chof is double as is Kuf to Reish it wants to be meramaz the double portion the Bechor gets. Which he gets by the way because he ends up being his Parents Ultimate chinuch experiment cute explanation with alot of holes I like it non the less.

  11. Chaim, I hear your pshat in drosh vekabeil schar, but it seems, to me, to be as unsatisfying as "laseis schar lemeivi'eihem." If, on the other hand, the parsha provides insights to how to raise a child, that's more understandable. e.g., Reb Moshe in his Darash (in back) asks, what's pshat with the bracha of she'petarani mei'onsho. If like the Magen Avraham that it refers to the responsibilities of chinuch, but chinuch obligations continue long after bar mitzvah! Perhaps the answer is that once a kid reaches that age, the trajectory is fixed, and you can at best make minor adjustments. Or, that in order to properly raise a child, both parents have to speak with the same voice-- mixed messages will undermine any chinuch.

    ADDGuy, I hear your he'arah on what if a wife dropped the money. Adam asui lemashmeish won't help to prove yiush of the husband. Maybe pshat is that once she drops it, she's chayav to the husband for the money, and she, in a sense, now owns it.
    Yasher koach for the bechor vort. My experience and observation has indeed been that parents do make most of their mistakes with the first.

  12. I've been thinking about it, and I have to say that I agree with myself. I didn't see what RYBS says. I'm sure it's beautiful, brilliant, and lyrical. But every mitzvah has four parts: lilmod, le'lameid, lishmor, and la'asos. Why on earth would there be some that are missing #4? It just doesn't sound right. If, on the other hand, pshat is like me, then fahrkehrt-- the drosh is so that you can do a better asiyah in othe respects-- in this context, in raising children.

  13. A.D.D.-Guy:kshemoi Ken Hu


  15. עַד הַיּוֹם הַזֶּהSeptember 14, 2008 at 12:12 AM

    This Rashi is very strange to me
    עד היום הזה - שמעתי שאותו היום שנתן משה ספר התורה לבני לוי כמ"ש בפ' וילך ויתנה אל הכהנים בני לוי באו כל ישראל לפני משה ואמרו לו משה רבינו אף אנו עמדנו בסיני וקבלנו את התורה וניתנה לנו ומה אתה משליט את בני שבטך עליה ויאמרו לנו יום מחר לא לכם ניתנה לנו ניתנה ושמח משה על הדבר ועל זאת אמר להם היום הזה נהיית לעם וגו' היום הזה הבנתי שאתם דבקים וחפצים במקום
    First of all "I heard"? Second the reason Moshe was Happy is Because the Jews Where Jealous of the Levim, so essentially now you have become a Nation because of in fighting and bickering and I thought it was supposed to be "Kish Echad Blev Echad" apparently the Warring Chassidim have it right?

  16. Zalman from AustraliaJanuary 4, 2009 at 1:34 AM

    Re the Rashi and warring Chasidim. 1. Rashi is describing people who care deeply about Torah, which might be like the "warring Chasidim" and in that case it does suggest that if we never get upset about the Torah we probably don't care enough.
    2. In this case their concern which essentially was good seems to have been tainted a bit with bikering and baseless accusations, maybe even an element of 'Chshed Bikshairim' against Moshe. But it it is raised directly with someone who has the capacity to resolve it. I susspect that when Machlokes drags on over time the ratio between concern for Mitzvos and ego/hate is less positive.
    3. I wonder about how we justify the 'Balkanisation of Judaism" with all the groups we categorise ourselves into and how that fits with Lo Tisgodedu.

  17. I was looking for something Parsha related to say at our beginning-of-the-year assembly next week and this vort from Reb Chaim Stein is perfect! Yasher Koiach!
    (I'm hoping none of the girls will shlug me up from Reb Chaim B's Yerushalmi.)

    1. Hatzlacha rabba on the upcoming year.
      Thanks for reminding me about this. I am remembering when my father told this to me, and since he's gone eight years, with several ein like bohem cheifetz years before that, it means a lot to me.

  18. Thank you very much!
    May your father's memory bring bracha and may his zechuyos protect. Certainly sifsosav dovevos bekover.