Ben sorer u’moreh nidon al shem sofo

Sanhedrin (8:5) | Zamir Pollak | 6 years ago

After learning about the details of a ben sorer u’moreh in the earlier Mishnayos of this chapter, the question must be asked: What terrible crime did the ben sorer u’morehcommit to be included in the list of niskalin in 7:4? He did eat and drink like a glutton, and he even stole from his parents. However, neither of these aveiros is normally punished with the death penalty.

The above mentioned quote in the title explains that the ben sorer u’moreh is killed on the basis on what he will eventually do. The Gemara (72a) says the ben sorer u’moreh will keep taking money from his parents to support his gluttonous habits until he has stolen everything. He will then begin to be “m’lasteim”, rob people to continue his way of life. “M’lasteim” can also have the connotation of murder.

The Margaliyos Hayam cites the peirush of the Ba’alei HaTosfos al HaTorah (parshas Ki Teitze) who ask that if the ben sorer u’morehis stoned now because when he is older he will kill people to steal from them, then why is he specifically stoned? The death penalty for a murderer is beheading! According to all opinions stoning is more chamur than beheading. Why does beis din give a more severe penalty to the ben sorer u’moreh for a crime that he has not yet committed than if he had actually murdered? Let him be beheaded.

The Ba’alei HaTosfos answer that since one of the criteria of the ben sorer u’moreh is that he does not listen to his parents (see 8:4) this is considered as if he cursed them and the punishment for cursing one’s parents is stoning (7:4).

The Yad Ramah answers that since the ben sorer u’moreh will go out to steal money from people he will also come to be mechalel shabbos, the penalty of which is stoning. If so, continues the Yad Ramah, what is the heter to kill the ben sorer u’moreh? We know from mishnah 8:7 that unlike a rodef achar chaveiro l’horgo who we kill to prevent him from killing, someone on their way to be mechalel shabbos may not be killed to prevent the chillul shabbos. The Yad Ramah answers that the ben sorer u’morehwill without a doubt end up killing people and thus he is a rodef achar chaveir l’horgo. With regard to skila, that is the ben sorer u’moreh’s punishment due to the chillul shabbos.

One more question that must be addressed is that even if the ben sorer u’moreh is considered a rodef, how can beis din kill him for something that he will do years from now? We know that Hashem judged Yishmael as he was right then – “ba’asher hu sham”. Hashem did not take into the account Yishmael’s future and the tremendous tzaaros that Yishmael’s descendants give us to this very day. Rav Aharon Kotler zt’l (Mishnas R’ Aharon al HaTorah p. 337) says that in the case of Yishmael, at that time he was a tzaddik or at the very least, a tzaddik b’dino. However, a ben sorer u’morehalready has the seeds of evil and destruction. This ben sorer u’morehis completely and utterly involved in the pleasures of olam hazeh. Furthermore, he has no problem of violating dinei Torah such as stealing in order to continue obtaining those pleasures. (See the above source in Mishnas R’ Aharon for a full treatment of this point and how this mehalach can also explain why the ben sorer u’morehdeserves skila.)


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