Ki Seitzei 5777

RABBI BARUCH KIBEL

(כי יהיה לאיש בן סורר ומורה (דברים כא:יח

If a man has a wayward and rebellious son (Devarim 21:18)

The Pesukim discussing the בן סורר ומורה come immediately after the Pasuk where the Torah protects the Bechor’s right to a double portion, even against the wishes of his father.
What is the connection between these two Pesukim? They seem to have no relation to one another.
My Rebbe, Reb Moshe Lieber, answers in the name of the Shem MiShmuel. The Torah is teaching an important lesson about beginnings. Just as the first born son, who represents the beginning and start of a new family, receives special privileges, so, too, all beginnings come with privileges.
After one becomes a bar/bas mitzvah, the beginning months set the tone for his/her future. What type of person is he going to be? What type of life is he going to live? The Halachos of בן סורר ומורה only apply for the first three months after his bar mitzvah, because the way he is acting now is only a sample of how he is going to behave when he matures. As a result, the Torah says, let him be killed while still innocent, rather than wait and have him be killed while guilty.
Chazal’s ruling that the בן סורר ומורה is judged and as a result killed because of the future seems to be a contradiction to what is said about Yishmael. When Avraham threw Hagar and Yishmael out of the house into the desert and Yishmael was dying of thirst, the Torah (Bereishis 21:17) says, “Hashem heard Yishmael’s cry in his current state.” And he was saved.
Rashi explains that the Melachim had a long discussion regarding the matter and said that Yishmael should not be saved, since his children would terrorize the Jews later in history. Hashem said no, that he should be judged by his current state, not by his future descendants. Then why, in the case of the בן סורר ומורה, is the boy killed because of his future aveiros?
Reb Yitzchak Sher explains that the two situations must be looked at differently. When Hashem saved Yishmael by examining his current state and ignoring the future, He was not helping him out, for he was allowed to live and commit aveiros later. But theבן סורר ומורה was shown Rachamim by being killed at 13, before he had much time for his Neshoma to tarnish.
Another interpretation examines the difference between Yishmael and the background of theבן סורר ומורה. The Torah says that the בן סורר ומורה is the child of a soldier who married the יפת תואר, the beautiful captive woman. This soldier was not the צדיק הדור; rather, he was someone to whom physical appearance was very important, as proven by the fact he married the woman only because of her looks. A child from this type of father will never amount to anything. The Torah says, let this child leave the world innocent, before it’s too late.
On the other hand, Yishmael was raised by Avraham and Sorah. Hashem knew that his upbringing would eventually bring him back to do teshuva. Hashem therefore looked at the present and not at the future, because his future had hope.


RABBI AVROHOM R. FEIGENBAUM

כי תבנה בית חדש ועשית מעקה לגגך (דברים כב:ח)

If you build a new house, you should make a fence for your roof (Devarim 22:8)

The Torah commands the installation of a Ma’akeh, or fence, around the roof of a house. This commandment is followed by the rationale: In this manner, you will not be liable for bloodshed in your house, should someone accidentally fall off the roof.
The Gemara (Bava Kama 15b) infers from the reason given by the Torah that we are not only obligated to protect our household members from a potentially dangerous roof, but from other hazardous items as well. For example, it is forbidden to raise a wild dog, or to employ a shaky ladder, lest this results in injury or loss of life.
The difficulty with this is statement is that the Torah made a point of mentioning the making of a Ma’akeh. Why is this action singled out, if in truth the obligation includes all other potential dangers to human life as well? The simple answer to this question is apparent from the Rambam (Hil. Rotzeach, Ch. 11). The obligation of Ma’akeh is unique in that its construction is subject to a positive commandment. Although removing other dangers is inferred from the end of the verse, they are only included in the negative commandment not to cause death or injury, but there is no positive commandment to do an action to remove them.
As an example of this difference, one can direct a non-Jew to remove dangerous items on his behalf, but the Minchas Chinuch (546) maintains that the positive commandment to actually build a Ma’akeh must be performed by the owner himself or by a qualifying Jewish agent.
The Machane Ephraim (Shluchim 11), however, quotes dissenting opinions that the Mitzvah is not to actually build the fence, but to make sure that the roof is safe, in which case a non-Jew would be adequate for the placement of a Ma’akeh.
Another difference between installing a Ma’akeh and removing other dangers is in regard to making a Bracha. While the Rambam (Brachos, Ch. 11) and She’eltos (P. Eikev) rule that a Bracha should be said upon performing the positive commandment of installing a Ma’akeh, the Chayei Adam (15, 24) writes that no Bracha is recited upon removing other dangers. The reason for this is that there is generally no requirement to make a Bracha when refraining from transgressing a negative commandment, only when performing a positive one.
The Chazon Ish propounds an alternative answer to the original question. The laws of Ma’akeh require that the roof must be located on a privately owned house. A domain lacking the properties of a “house,” because, for instance, its area is smaller than four square amos or it is lower than ten tefachim high, is exempt from a Ma’akeh (Sukkah 3a). Similarly, a house without specific owners, such as a Shul, does not require a fence placed on its roof (Chullin 136a). Yet it would seem that the element of danger involved should be enough by itself to obligate the owner of such a domain to install a Ma’akeh. Why, if he would have to remove a shaky ladder, should he be entirely exempt from protecting his roof?
The Chazon Ish therefore concludes that the danger of a roof is different than the others, which is why the Torah had to make specific mention of it. He writes that although a wild dog is a clear danger, going up to a roof is not, because the person going up is aware of the danger involved and takes necessary precautions. This is the reason why there is no prohibition to go up to a roof without a fence or to climb a tree. Only through the Torah giving specific directives regarding a Ma’akeh, with the guidelines of a “house” and private property, are we commanded to take extra steps to safeguard a roof. Consequently, where the domain is not considered a “house” and the factors obligating one to protect his roof are lacking, no Ma’akeh is necessary. The Chazon Ish adds, however, that even when the area is exempt from a true Ma’akeh that is ten tefachim high, a barrier at least three tefachim high should be installed without a Bracha.

(Adapted from Bais HaVaad)