Classics and Beyond Mishpatim – Soul-Snatching: Rav Shimon Schwab

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    Classics and Beyond Mishpatim – Soul-Snatching: Rav Shimon Schwab
    ומכה אביו ואמו מות יומת וגנב איש ומכרו ונמצא בידו מות יומת ומקלל אביו ואמו מות יומת
    He who strikes his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. And he who steals a man and sells him, and he was found in his hand, shall surely be put to death. And he who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death (Shemos 21:15-17).
    Why is the verse about the penalty of kidnaping flanked by the two pesukim that detail the punishment for hurting and cursing a parent?
    We all want what is best for our children. To this end, loving parents guide and encourage their charges in many ways. We help them take their first steps, read their first words, and ride their first bikes. We do all we can for our children. We even use our experience to help them avoid mistakes.
    But there can be a blurring of the lines – where healthful encouragement becomes unhealthful enabling. When a parent is more interested in creating the child he wants to have than helping the child develop into the best person he can be, a minefield of disparate wills and wants is created. The parent’s needs often conflict with, and are allowed to supersede, those of the child’s. The child, sensing what would appear to be love, but in reality is a form of neglect, experiences real emotional pain. He sees that his parent is controlling and manipulative, with his own interests at heart. Resentment sets in.
    Rav Yochanan Zweig says that this is why the Aramaic word for son, בר, is identical to the Aramaic word for outside, as in מלבר versus מלגו – from the outside rather than from the inside. Many people view their children as extensions of themselves and as vehicles in which to realize their heretofore unfulfilled dreams. That is why a son, a bar, also means someone on the outside. Yes, he is your child, but he is also outside of you – a separate and individual entity. Your role is to foster his growth and his dreams, and not to use them in the furtherance and growth of your unfulfilled goals and unmet dreams.
    Rav Shimon Schwab, in Maayan Beis HaSho’eivah, writes that this is why the crime of kidnaping is inserted between these two verses. How is it that a child of loving parents can turn on them, with a bruising blow or a curse? How could their kindness reap such perfidy?
    When parents are more interested in what they get out of the relationship, when they hover over their young and become the scriptwriters and directors of their children’s lives, they rob them of their own personalities. They are being molded in the image of others, who don’t have their best interests at heart. Their parents have, in a real sense, hijacked or kidnapped the life that could have been.
    The Torah is alluding to this vital and true role of a parent. Yes, the child was at fault for his assault of the parent, be it verbal or physical. He deserves the penalty enumerated in the two pesukim (15 and 17). Yet, at the same time, the crime described in pasuk 16 has also been violated.
    His parents are guilty of a real form of kidnaping – of a young child’s soul.

    Below are links to my two seforim including the recently published Classics and Beyond 2. It is a 650 page sefer with some of the verter I have shared on Rabbi Ephraim Eliyahu Shapiro was kind enough to write a very positive review. I share below a few lines from his words as well as a link to both my seforim. I truly thank all those who download my weekly submission and invite you enjoy more of these verter. Avraham Bukspan
    This sefer encompasses both wisdom and professionalism. A work of art — it takes precious pearls of wisdom from [many of] the great Torah masters and brings them to life in a way that our generation can appreciate. It is written in a manner that grabs the reader’s heart… and ignites in him a desire for Torah and fear of Heaven…
    – Rabbi Ephraim Eliyahu Shapiro – Congregation Shaaray Tefilah, North Miami Beach, Florida

    Reb Eliezer

    Maybe that is what King Solomon means חנוך לנער לפי דרכו, raise your child according to his needs and not yours. Don’t kidnap his abilities to satisfy your needs.

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