This weeks Torah Portion, Ki Tetzei (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19) has some very challenging passages – at least when first read on a fairly superficial level, but even perhaps still challenging after deeper reflection!!
It starts off with the narrative about the beautiful woman captured in wartime (Deut 21:10-14).
I love this answer as a great lesson in confronting our ‘evil inclination’, our Yetzer haRa, – http://www.aish.com/tp/i/wbr/48922022.html
It goes on to discuss the ‘rebellious child’.
Rabbi Ari Kahn has a good explanation in one of his commentaries regarding the case of the rebellious child, who is to be stoned to death!
“Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death …” Deut 21:21
Rabbi Kahn states: “As the Sages see it, the rebellious child does not develop in a vacuum; he is the result of a dysfunctional home. … Interestingly enough, the Rabbis felt that there never was and never would be a “real” rebellious child.
This is not to say that such a child never existed.
Rather, the courts could never successfully prosecute and adjudicate such a case, due to the myriad conditions required for a conviction …”
Ari Khan shows here that the proper understanding of this passage is in what it actually teaches, and therefore in what should be avoided, and not in some strictly literal and seemingly incredibly harsh condemnation of a rebellious son.
A shocking scenario is painted with a consequence that very few would ever see as just or fair and certainly one appearing to display a total lack of true grace.
Yet this reality, this commandment, was never, and would never be enacted because it requires both mother and father to speak with one voice, and such unity of parenthood could not result in a rebellious son! (Read Ari’s article here for the full picture
Thus those who dismiss the Tanakh and it’s teaching because of their rejection of a text they take in a very literal and simplistic manner are really shown to be both ignorant and arrogant in their approach.
I have also written briefly on this Torah Portion in an earlier blog post, ‘Darkness Cannot Drive Out Darkness’ here.