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Parashat Ki Tetze - English


If there be to a man a son who turns aside [from the right path], and is recalcitrant, not heeding the voice of his father and the voice of his mother,

A lot of Midrashim explain the reason for the birth of such a son. The Mishna in Avot chapter 4 tells us the rule, “A sin leads to another sin”. Similarly, resulting from the act of Isha Yafet To’ar - The woman of beauty from captivity, the child was born.

The Shlah HaKadosh teaches an amazing foundation for a correct jewish mindset. The parents bring the kid to the judges and say, “Our son has turned astray”, why does the parents need to tell them, “Our Son”? In order to tell them, this child is an israelite kid, all the wrongful ways not from us but from the nations that live with us in our land. As it is said, “And they were mixed up with the nations, and they learned their deeds.

A Jew must have it to heart that all the filth that you find inside the jewish nation is none but from the gentiles.

Once, they had so much respect and awe for the Rabbis. I will recount a few occurrences that I heard from our Rosh HaKollel, HaGaon HaRav Avichai Pachima Shlit”a.

During the time of the Chatam Sofer, A married woman once strolled through the streets without any head covering. The rav tried chastising her but to no avail. She would pay any heed to anything.

In the end, he excommunicated her from the community. After a day or two, she died. The Rav instructed the community to bring the dead body to his residence because he won’t exert the strength to go to the burial of such a sinner.

They brought the dead body to him. The Rav opened the cloth that covered her face and spit upon her face and said, “May it be that such people not multiply in the nation of Israel”.

Everybody was filled with awe for the Rav.

If this story occurred in our generation, all the news channels would be filled with words of slandering on the Rav. At his time, no one made a beep. Why is that so? Because people had the right jewish mindset that if the Torah scholar decides, that’s the word of Hashem.

It is said about the Chatam Sofer that when a person asks him who his Rabbi is, he starts shivering and unable to say the name out of awe, and so he asks his son to tell the person who his Rabbi was. That’s what a true jewish mind should be, appreciation of people who are busy in Torah.

One of the things that has wildly captured almost every kid and brought them to a spiritual holocaust are the smartphones.

Rav Avigdor Miller, in his time used to speak about the television and used to say that they are the outlets connected to every toilet in the world that comes directly to your seat. Today, the disease has worsened.

Almost every non jewish mindset that enters a jewish mind in today's world comes from these smartphones.

A person may think that he is just listening to a song, or watching a funny video, or news. The Gemara tells us about Elisha Ben Avuya who was the teacher of the great Tanna Rabbi Meir Baal Hanes, who merited to enter the orchard alive, “got off the derech” as they say. One of the reasons given is that he used to listen to non jewish songs.

A person that calls himself religious and also a Torah scholar claimed that it is a mitzvah to listen to non jewish love songs because it can lead to more and more marriages. Hashem should help him do teshuva for all the sins that he did and made others do.

A jewish love is clean of any filth. I heard in the name of a certain Gadol A person before marriage will not be able to discover anything more than what he discovered inside the partner with 5 meetings. If he did discover, it is no more than sins of adultery.

Non jewish songs are full of such adulterous ideas and lusts for the partner which makes the listener into a lustful animal who couldn’t control himself anymore which is the direct opposite of true love.

People think that funny videos that they watch on their smartphones makes them happy. But the truth is, they are only sticking a tape over a serious wound. The person is not happy but hilarious. True happiness comes only when you are filled spiritually. Not only the videos lead you to Bitul Torah - wasting the time that you are able to use for Torah but also it instals a lot of non jewish ideas inside a person.

For the sake of learning, one of the examples is a video that went wild on a lot of social media where a few black men lifted the coffin and danced through it with funny music. King Shlomo in his ecclesiastes says, “It is better to go to a place of mourners than to a place of celebration, so that the living will pay heed to it.”

When a person dies, anyone present next to it is instilled with fear, which these scoffers have made it into scoff.

These are only a few among thousands of worse examples. I once saw a list of steps to get many users on social media and one of them was to put an explicit image as a thumbnail. The Torah cries out the words which we are commanded ourselves to say with full intention twice a day, “You shall not stray after your hearts and after your eyes”, it is a very severe biblical prohibition.

A jewish mind always thinks according to the Torah, anything else is an influence from the nations of the world and must be pushed away.

One of the most fundamentals of having a jewish mindset is loving the Torah and its scholars.

When you tell a person that you have a special gift for him but you are going to give him only a month later on his birthday. What does he do? In the best case scenario, he may recall that you have to give him the gift on the said date and that's it.

But When Am Israel stood by Mount Sinai, since they crossed the Yam Suf, they got so enthusiastic about receiving the Torah, so much so, that they counted each day until they received the torah. They could have simply waited for 7 weeks and that's it, but no, their enthusiasm brought them to count each day. That's the love of Am Israel for the Torah

Rav Avichai Pachima recalled one of the stories that Rav wrote in one of his books. Rav Chaim Rebi Shlit”a in his youth once opened a Kollel for the holidays where a few scholars used to come daily to learn Torah.

During those times, they didn’t have daily food supplies other than oranges which the rav used to bring for them in bulk.

One day, they ate the oranges and stacked the peels forgetting to clean them up afterwards. The Gabbai of the place when he saw all those peels started getting furious at the Rabbi throwing at him all sorts of curses against the religious jews.

The Rav after bearing it for sometime, had enough of it. He started answering him back saying the following words. “If you had known the importance of Torah scholars, not only had you spoken against them, not only would you have cleaned them but eaten them!”

That's how much a person should look up to torah scholars. Any person who cannot grind those words has started to have filth from the outside world inside his head.

The Mishna in Avot tells us, dirty yourself with the dirt from the shoes of Talmidei Chachamim.

Every parent must think that his son should become the next Gadol baTorah. Not a doctor, not an engineer but a Talmid Chacham because that is the biggest gift that a person could ever have.

The Torah tells us that the parents should take hold of the wayward son and bring him to the judges of the city. It is understood why the kid was punished. But why would the parents go through such a mourning experience of losing a son? The Torah then tells us that after the son is killed, all Israel will hear and fear Hashem. What does one thing have to do with the other?

With the help of Hashem, maybe we can answer both the questions in one answer. The Gemara tells us, “A person who has the fear of Heaven, his words are heard”. The Torah tells us, when the kid doesn’t listen to the words of his parents, why doesn’t he listen to them? Because they were without fear of Heaven. When parents themself have the fear of Heaven, the child would have been directed to the right path. And so, as a rectification, the Torah tells us that all Am Israel will hear about it and fear Hashem.

The role of the parents is to install jewish values into his child. Not by giving them smartphones so that may be sometime in the future he may come across a torah lecture and do teshuva.

I had the merit to spend Hoshana Rabbah with my teacher and master, HaGaon Rabbi Aharon Pessin Shlit”a who is the direct student of many gedolei israel, specifically Maran Sar laTorah HaRav Chaim Kanievsky ZTK”L. Before I left the place, I had the honour to sit with him one on one and asked him a few questions. One of which was as following,

We have already seen the outer world, I grew up in India among the gentiles and I have learned about their misdeeds, and Baruch Hashem today I have returned and also geared myself with the knowledge of what's bad. But how do we teach the kids how to stay away from what's bad before they meet it themselves which couldn’t be avoided in this generation.

He told me that one must do mitzvot with happiness and enthusiasm and show the kids how fortunate we are to have so many mitzvot. Thus when they come across the bad, it won’t have as much influence as your enthusiasm had on them.

Rav Avigdor Miller ZTK”L used to say that one must tell his kids stories of tzaddikim, speaking to them how great they were so that they will look up to their wisdom and grow up with the good jewish ideals.

May Hashem help us in all our steps towards living like a true jew.

Shabbat Shalom!

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