Ki Teitzeih 5770 – Communal Pressure

Posted on August 19, 2010 In Archives

Each week IPA staff and guest contributors take a look at the weekly parsha and discuss it in a way you may never have seen. Any hashkafic, halachic or political opinions are personal and do not reflect the official psak or policy of the OU.

(The below piece is based on a talk IPA Deputy Director Howie Beigelman delivered at the Boca Raton Synagogue in August 2009. To learn more about opportunities for your community to have IPA staff as lecturers, panelists or scholars-in-residence, please email

The parsha of ben sorer u’moreh — which at least according to some, may have never actually happened and is intended only as a “lesson” — is a confusing parsha. Why do we make the parents come to beis din, the court and in public, humiliate themselves by saying — look at our child, look at how we have failed as parents? The Torah that stresses so strongly and commands us not to embarrass others, with the Talmud comparing it to murder? Second, where was beis din and others in this whole process? A child is having a total meltdown, the parents are unable to cope, and nobody notices until they march into court one day?

The lesson for us all – parents to children, friends to friends in need, and a community to its members, is that we have a responsibility – what the Torah calls areivut – one to the other.

We’ll force parents to embarrass themselves to impress on everyone that if you’re responsible, you need to act responsibly. And if you need help, you need to ask for it. If you have an issue – you can’t ignore it and you can’t give up. You need to own it. You can’t wait till it’s out of control.

And if you’re a neighbor or friend or community leader and you see someone or many people having problems you have to act.

We must take responsibility for the Jewish people. There are issues that directly affect us and our brothers and sisters. The specter of a nuclear Iran, of resurgent Hezbollah and an untamed Hamas on Israel’s borders; as well, here in the states, synagogues and day schools threatened by lone wolves and terrorist plots, and a community literally stressed to the limit by a tuition crisis are just the top of the line items that affect our community. If any of those issues affect you, or if, thankfully none of them do, but you think they affect others here in this community or elsewhere, you need to join in working towards fixing them.

posted by Howie Beigelman