Ki Teitzei August 31, 2017

Generally the Torah provides great comfort and deep insight, but occasionally we come upon a passage that really challenges us.  In Ki Teitzei, we find the law of the “wayward and defiant son,” who does not listen to his parents and is also a glutton and a drunkard. The son is taken to the elders of the town and stoned to death in public.  (Deut 21: 18-21) The Talmudic sages assure us that capital punishment was never actually carried out in ancient Israel or after (Sanhedrin 71a).   Still, we gasp at the content of this passage!  All parents can relate to the child who does not listen, and anyone who has struggled with an eating disorder or substance abuse surely can empathize with the child and/or parents in this parasha.  Thank goodness, our culture has evolved to a point where we treat such issues more humanely and sensitively.