Parshas Ki Seitzei – Just Say No

Tiger MomThe words parents hate to hear…”But Ma, all the other kids have it!”  (Spoken in an appropriately whining, nagging tone.)

Parents hate to hear it because it is so effective. We can’t seem to say “no.”

But it’s ultimately to our child’s, and society’s, detriment.

This week’s Torah portion discusses the Rebellious Child, one who does not show respect for authority and practices gluttonous behavior.

The Talmud explains that the seemingly draconian measures that the Torah calls for to punish this child were never carried out; indeed it was impossible, as the Torah specifically put safeguards to assure that the conditions and prerequisites for exacting this punishment could never come to fruition.

If so, what was the purpose of writing about the impossible, extreme case of the Rebellious Child? The Talmud explains that these laws teach us a lesson: A child without self-discipline and respect for authority is doomed to a life of failure at best, and will be prone to immoral and illegal activities.

Indeed, many modern-day studies have shown that excessive coddling produces children who grow into adulthood with an excessive sense of entitlement, a lack of self-discipline, and an inability to delay gratification – a sure recipe for a life of unhappiness and failure.

This is the timeless wisdom taught by the Torah thousands of years ago.

Does this mean we must all practice the “Tiger Mom” school of parenting? Of course not. The Torah’s parenting technique calls for harshness with the “left hand” and love with the “right.” But giving in to every tantrum is not love at all.

So next time your child nags and begs for the latest gadget that he\she MUST have – after all, EVERYONE has it – show some self-discipline of your own and “just say no.”

One day your child will thank you for it.

Rabbi Yitzchok Oratz is the Rabbi and Director of the Monmouth Torah Links community. Shortly after receiving his semicha (rabbinic ordination) from Bais Medrash Govoha, the famed Lakewood Yeshiva, Rabbi Oratz, along with his wife Toby and family, moved to Marlboro, NJ where they co-founded the MTL community in 2001. Aside for his “Devar on the Par” that he writes for MTL, his writings have also been published on Aish, Times of Israel, Seforim Blog, Hakira, and in various Rabbinic journals. Rabbi Oratz looks forward to continuing teaching Torah in a way that is timely and timeless, and sharing meaningful Jewish experiences with the amazing MTL community.

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