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כי יקח איש אשה חדשה... נקי יהיה לביתו... ושימח את אשתו

When a man marries a new wife… he shall be free for his home for one year, and he shall gladden his wife. (24:5)

In one of the sheva brachos, seven nuptial blessings, we recite the following: Asher bara sasson v’simchah, chassan v’kallah, gilah, rinah, ditzah, v’chedvah, ahavah, v’achavah, v’shalom v’reius; “Who created joy and gladness, groom and bride, mirth, glad song, pleasure, delight, love, brotherhood, peace and companionship.” Why do the words chassan v’kallah, groom and bride, precede all of the wonderful, varied expressions of joy? Horav Shmuel HaLevi Wosner, zl, explains that the unique love, harmony and sense of brotherhood that reigns in a marriage, is a spiritual blessing from Hashem which He grants to the young couple following their commencement of…

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לא יבא עמוני ומואבי בקהל ד'... על דבר אשר לא קדמו אתכם בלחם ומים... ואשר שכר עליך את בלעם בן בעור... לקללך

Neither an Amoni nor a Moavi may enter the congregation of Hashem… because they did not greet you with bread and water… and because he hired Bilaam ben Be’or… to curse you. (23:4,5)

An Amoni or Moavi, even after he has fully converted to Judaism, is forever barred from marrying a Jewish woman. The reason for this exclusion: A) They did not greet us nicely when we were journeying towards Eretz Yisrael; B) They hired Bilaam to curse us. Their lack of chesed, acting kindly, appears to be more of a character flaw than a sin. Clearly, such a moral stain should disappear over time. We have been persecuted, hounded and murdered by so many nations. Yet, their character flaws do not seem to present a hindrance to their acceptance as converts. Why…

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השב תשיבם לאחיך

You shall surely return them to you brother. (22:1)

Horav Shmuel Hominer, zl (Eved HaMelech), writes that included in the mitzvah of Hasheiv teshiveim, the obligation to return a lost article to its rightful owner, likewise applies with regard to the spiritual sphere. One Jew is responsible for the other. Therefore, if my brother is plagued with a spiritual shortcoming, my attitude should not be: “How does this involve me? He is responsible for his life. I am responsible for mine.” It does not work that way. We are responsible for one another. One should not ignore his fellow’s plight by turning a blind eye to his spiritual failings….

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ובערת הרע מקרבך וכל ישראל ישמעו ויראו

And you shall destroy the evil from your midst; and all of Yisrael shall hear, and they shall fear. (21:21)

Rashi comments: A ben sorer u’moreh, wayward and rebellious son, is put to death due to his end. The Torah foresaw the culmination of his way of thinking. He will eventually exhaust his father’s money, and, in order to maintain his habit, will be compelled to steal. A time will come when stealing will not come easily. At this point, he will resort to murder. Chazal teach: Let him die as an innocent person (before he kills someone) and not die as a guilty person. This refers to an inconsistency in a prior episode in the Torah, when the infant…

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ותפשו בו אביו ואמו... ואמרו בננו זה סורר ומורה

Then his father and mother shall grasp him… They shall say… “This son of ours is wayward and rebellious.” (21:19,20)

The Mishnah in Sanhedrin (71a) states that both parents must be on the same page with regard to their son’s behavior – or lack thereof. If the father claims that he is incorrigible and the mother disagrees, or vice versa, the boy is not deemed a ben sorer u’moreh. Furthermore, he is executed after being found guilty only if neither parent forgives him. If, however, even after he has been warned and has received malkos, lashes, he sins again, if his parents forgive him, he is not put to death. This idea requires elucidation. He is executed because of how…

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כי תצא למלחמה על איבך ונתנו ד' אלקיך בידך

When you will go out to war against your enemies, and Hashem your G-d will deliver them/him into your hand. (21:10)

The pasuk begins with lashon rabim: plural, oyvecha, your enemies; and concludes with lashon yachid, singular: u’nesano, will deliver him. This teaches us, explains Horav Bunim, zl, m’Peshischa, that we actually have only one enemy, but he has different names. He cites the Talmud (Succah 52a), “The yetzer hora, evil inclination, has seven names.” This is reference to the various images, metaphors, for describing the yetzer hora and its deleterious effect on people. Obviously, every individual has a different relationship with and understanding of the yetzer hora. To some, he is an enemy; to others, he is an obstacle or…

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כי יהיה לאיש בן סורר ומורה איננו שמע בקול אביו ובקול אמו

 If a man will have a wayward and rebellious son, who does not listen to the voice of his father and the voice of his mother. (21: 18)

The ben sorer u’moreh, wayward and rebellious son, is an anomaly within the parameters of halachah. The Torah punishes only when one actively sins. The Torah does not mete out punishment just because the individual is destined to sin. Yet, the ben sorer is executed al shem sofo, because of what he will ultimately do in the end, later in life, when he cannot get what he wants. He will murder to satisfy his desires. Kill him now, before he takes an innocent life. Truly an anomaly. Ramban posits that the ben sorer warrants two punishments: one for degrading and…

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כי יהיה לאיש בן סורר ומורה

If a man will have a wayward and rebellious son. (21:18)

It takes incredible strength of character and extraordinary devotion to Hashem for a parent to make a choice: in favor of Torah values and love for the Almighty over human emotions of love.  Rabbeinu Bachya says that parents’ love of G-d must supersede the love they have for their children. Thus, if the Torah commands parents who have sadly raised a wayward and rebellious son to transfer that son over to the court for what might be he his untimely execution, they must be prepared to do so. Baruch Hashem, never has there been a case of ben sorer u’moreh;…

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כי תקצור קצירך ... ושכחת עומר ... לא תשוב לקחתו לגר ליתום ולאלמנה ידיה למען יברכך ד' אלקיך

When you reap your harvest … and you forget a bundle … you shall not turn back to take it, for it shall be for the convert, the orphan and the widow, so that Hashem, your G-d, will bless you. (24:19)

If one reads the pasuk, I think it communicates an important message. When we give tzedakah, charity, to one who is in need, we think it is all about him/her. He or she needs our help. What about the benefactor? Does he receive any personal benefit outside of the spiritual reward and the personal satisfaction that he derives from his actions? The Torah teaches that one should not think his charitable actions benefit only the beneficiary. He, too, will benefit as evinced by the following story. Anyone who has ever searched for a job knows that the process can be…

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כי יהיה לאיש בן סורר ומורה איננו שמע בקול אביו ובקול אמו

If a man will have a wayward and rebellious son, who does not hearken to the voice of his father and the voice of his mother. (21:18)

Concerning the incident of the ben sorer u’moreh, the wayward son, and its accompanying laws causes one to pause and ask: Why? This could never happen. Why take up precious space to write about a wayward son that (according to the demanding laws that accompany it) has characteristics which are not likely to develop. D’rosh u’sekabel s’char, “Learn and you will receive reward”: Probably the greatest reward will be derived from learning it properly – with a focus on one’s parenting. This way, he will not have to address such a child personally. Having said this, we turn to one…

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