Israel Forever

For the week ending 28 August 2004 / 11 Elul 5764

The Rebellious Sons

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

A shock went through Israeli society the other month with the news that a Jewish soldier in the Israel Defense Forces decided that upon his discharge from the army he would go live with a Moslem family in an Arab community.

While this may be seen as an isolated case, some observers see it as symbolic of the trend among Israeli youth to disassociate themselves from anything Jewish. The countrys leaders are constantly reading surveys as to how many Israeli teenagers would have preferred not to be born Jewish and fret over the statistics of how many young Israelis would prefer to be living elsewhere. Perhaps they should learn a lesson on how to deal with this problem from the Torah portion which we will read this week in the synagogue.

A son who shows extreme signs of rebellion against his parents is viewed by the Torah as a threat to himself and to society. Preemptive action is therefore prescribed before the permissiveness of his parents turns him into a murderer. Our Sages tell us that the death penalty for the 13-year old "ben sorer umoreh" was never implemented because the technical details required for passing such a sentence made it virtually impossible to do so. This chapter regarding "the rebellious son" was placed in the Torah in order to teach us a lesson that we must take steps at an early age to prevent violent rebellion in the future.

If Jewish values are not inculcated in Israeli children it should not come as a surprise that they later rebel against their faith, their people and their land.

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