SEPTEMBER 16-17, 2005 13 ELUL 5765
"Our son is rebellious; he does not heed our voice." (Debarim 21:20)
Although the conditions necessary to punish a wayward and rebellious son with the appropriate punishment are difficult to come by, and indeed some say it never happened, we can learn some important lessons from this perashah. The Torah says that the parents say, "This is our son and he doesn't listen to our voice," emphasizing that the parents are united in their upbringing of their child and in the ultimate punishment. Then, they are entitled to bring him to bet din, since they have done the best they could, the fault being the son's.
This teaches us how important it is for both parents to be together in raising a child. If he hears two voices, rather than "our voice," he will get mixed messages and will quickly learn to manipulate one against the other to get his own way. Many times, parents might not agree on a certain point regarding their child, be it about permissiveness or about punishment, etc. They should discuss it between themselves first and come out with one voice to the child. Then, even if the child knows it's really the wish of one parent and not the other, he sees a unified front and won't be able to "divide and conquer." This is a well known rule which we may be very aware of, but if we take the time and energy to implement it on a regular basis, we will see more success in raising fine children. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"If a man will have a wayward and rebellious son" (Debarim 21:18)
Our perashah tells us about the rebellious son. The Talmud says that an actual case never happened. However, the Torah gives us this law for us to learn the proper way to bring up our children. There is no question that our children are far from rebellious, but it will always be a benefit to improve our methods of child upbringing and education. It's time to explode some widely believed myths in education. When we look at the overall behavior patterns of our children, most parents will say they wish their children would show a bit more honor to their elders, be a little less grasping in their ways and be a lot less materialistic in their outlook. I would like to take excerpts from an article by Rabbi Moshe Young, an education professional who lists a few rules that are no longer considered true and are only myths.
Myth 1: Keeping children happy all the time will produce well-balanced children.
Myth 2: Endless praise provides confidence, high self-esteem and continued academic progress.
Myth 3: Happiness in children is achieved via the stomach and material possessions.
Myth 4: Academically weaker children gain more in a class of mixed ability.
Myth 5: Children feel more secure when they share equally in the decision-making process.
True, children are meant to be happy, and we as parents have no greater joy than seeing our children contented and happy. In preparation for their life as adults, however, when they will experience some distress, the child who has had to face some minor disappointments will be at an advantage. It is unfair and unrealistic to shelter your child from every possible kind of distress.
Many parents and teachers today actually believe that you may never criticize, but must always praise children regardless of what they do or how they behave. These educators say that children must always feel successful, but this is a myth, because real success can be achieved only when it is measured against some degree of failure. If a child always thinks he is a success he will feel that he doesn't have to try harder.
Obviously there must be occasions when parents and children make decisions together. That is part of growing up. Children have to feel that their opinions are valued. However, that is a far cry from allowing children to make all decisions on equal footing with their parents. A parent doesn't want to feel like a dictator; however, a child needs to feel secure and in the protection of his parents. Sometimes the responsibility of decision-making is too much for a child to bear. Plus, if a child makes all the decisions the misvah of honoring one's parents becomes weaker in his eyes. It is also necessary to teach more yirat shamayim, the fear of Heaven. To children this concept is unclear, but they should be made to be familiar with the notion of responsibility and accountability to Hashem. May Hashem help guide us in our most important responsibility, the upbringing of our children in the Torah way. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"If you happen to come across a bird's nest...do not take the mother with the children" (Debarim 22:6)
Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld of Jerusalem explained: Can a person catch a bird once it is flying? Of course not. But there are mother birds who are so concerned about the welfare of their children that they stay with them and do not leave them alone when a hunter comes along. Because of this, the mother falls right into the hands of the hunter. It turns out then that the hunter would want to take advantage of the mother's compassion for her children. Therefore, the Torah orders a person to send away the mother. You have no right to utilize her positive trait of mercy in order to capture her.
All the more so, you should not try to take advantage of another person just because he is softhearted. There are people who are very compassionate and whenever they hear that someone has a difficulty they do whatever they can to help. In monetary matters they do not like to argue or quarrel, and easily give in to the demands and requests of others. Do not utilize their good-naturedness to take advantage of them in either financial matters or in taking up their time and energy by asking them to do things that you would not ask others to do. (Growth through Torah)
"If a man marries a woman" (Debarim 24:1)
Regarding the appropriate marriage our Sages (Pesahim 49a) comment, "Invei hagefen be'invei hagefen davar na'ah umitkabel - The mingling of the grapes of the vine with the grapes of the vine is beautiful and fitting."
Why the analogy to grapes and not other fruit?
Before eating any fruit of the tree, one is required to make a berachah "Boreh peri ha'ess." On the juice of the fruit one recites the berachah "Shehakol nehiyah bidevaro," which is lower in the ranking of berachot. The only exception to this rule is in the case of grapes. While the fruit itself has the same berachah as other fruits (in the same category), the juice kovei'a berachah le'asmo - acquires a berachah for itself - "Boreh peri hagefen," which is considered higher in the hierarchy of berachot than "Boreh peri ha'ess."
The originators of a family are the parents, who are analogous to the vine, and the offspring are compared to grapes. Our Sages are telling us that a marriage in which there is a "mingling of grapes" and which produces wine, i.e. the children accomplish even more than their parents - is "davar na'ah umitkabel - something beautiful and fitting." (Vedibarta Bam)
This Week's Haftarah: Yeshayahu 54:1-10.
This week, we read the fifth of the series of seven haftarot that deal with consolation and redemption. Hashem promises that he will show mercy and bring the people back to Jerusalem. His kindness will never be removed from us, and His covenant of peace will not falter.
A quick tip to boost the power of your prayer. Hazal tell us (Masechet Baba Kama Daf 92A) that Hashem loves the tefilot of one Jew for another so much that anyone who prays on behalf of a fellow Jew with similar needs will have his prayer answered first. A special service has now begun to provide people with names of others who find themselves in a similar predicament. You can call with complete anonymity and get the name of someone to pray for and give the name of someone that needs our prayers. The name of the service is Kol Hamitpalel. Categories include: Marriage; Income; Health; To have children etc.
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