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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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כי יקרא קן צפור לפניך בדרך בכל עץ או על הארץ אפרחים או ביצים והאם רבצת על האפרחים או על הביצים לא תקח האם על הבנים

If a bird’s nest happens to be before you on your way, on a tree or on the ground – young birds or eggs – and the mother is roosting on the young birds or the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young. (22:6)

The laws of shiluach hakein, sending away an ownerless bird which is roosting on her young, is a mitzvah for which a number of humanistic “rationales” are suggested. Obviously, these explanations are primarily for us, human beings, with our mortal minds, so that we have an understanding of a mitzvah which seems to be simple to perform and carries with it the awesome reward of longevity. Like everything else in the Torah, there is also a homiletic and esoteric side to it, which often sheds a completely new perspective on the mitzvah. Horav Levi Yitzchak m’Berditchev, zl, explains the mitzvah of…

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והיה אם לא תמצא חן בעיניו... וכתב לה ספר כריתות... ושלחה מביתו

And it will be that she will not find favor in his eyes… and he wrote her a bill of divorce… and sent her from his house. (24:1)

At the end of Meseches Gittin, the Talmud states: “One who divorces his first wife – even the Mizbayach, Altar, sheds tears over this.” Why do Chazal underscore the Mizbayach as the object that weeps? Why not the Heavens, the oceans, the trees – indeed, everything in the world? Why specifically the Altar? Horav Avraham Benuchovski, zl, explains this based upon the meaning of Hashem’s declaration (prior to the creation of Chavah): Lo tov hayos ha’adam levado. E’eseh lo eizar k’negdo, “It is not tov, good, that man is alone. I will make for him an eizar, helpmate, opposite him”…

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זכור את אשר עשה לך עמלך

Remember what Amalek did to you. (25:17)

What did Amalek really do to us? They came after us three times: in Refidim; the Maapilim, after the spies; following the death of Aharon HaKohen. There were casualties, and every Jewish soul whose life is cut short is worth all of our enemy – and more. Nonetheless, we have been persecuted and hounded, murdered like animals led to the slaughter; from the Egyptians who persecuted us for 210 years, who slaughtered our babies, to Titus, Nevuchadnetzer, Crusades, Inquisition, hundreds of pogroms, Chemelniki, and finally the cataclysmic Holocaust, which destroyed one third of our nation – yet we are not…

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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)

The Torah refers to the father of the wayward and rebellious son as an ish, a man, and then goes on to state the boy’s sin: he does not obey his father and mother. Why does the Torah refer to the ish/father as the boy’s progenitor, as having begotten him, but – in contrast – when it addresses his disobedience, he is considered to be son of both his father and mother? This inconsistency in and of itself might be the precursor for the boy’s degenerate behavior. Parents have a child; it is a boy! The father immediately takes charge….

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כי יהיה לאיש בן סורר ומורה איננו שומע 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)

Einenu shomeia, “does not hearken/listen” is the given translation. The word einenu means much more than “does not (listen).” It means he is not a listener; he is unable to listen; his ability to listen is (sadly) impeded. The Torah should have written (simply), eino shomeia: “(he) does not listen.” The Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh notes this change and derives from here that, when the yetzer hora, evil inclination, reigns over a person, or, rather, if the yetzer hora becomes part of this person, his ability to hear, listen, to accept, becomes so impeded that he is unable to listen. He…

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