Parshas Ki Seitzei
Happy To Please
"And he shall gladden the wife that he took" (24:5)
The Torah specifies that a newlywed is exempt from
military service for a year, so that he may bring joy to his wife. Rashi
cites the Targum Yonasan who translates the verse "ve'simach es ishto" as
"veyachdi im itesai" - "he shall be joyful with his wife." The Rambam and
the Sefer Hachinuch rule in accordance with the Targum's interpretation
stating "veyismach imah" - "he should be happy with her." According to
their interpretation of the verse the word "es" means "with" as derived from
the construct of the words "ito" - "with him" or "ita" - "with her".
However, an alternative interpretation is offered by Rashi who comments that
a husband should make his wife happy, not that he should be happy with her.
According to Rashi the word "es" is being used to focus the verb upon the
object, i.e. bringing happiness to his wife. This would allow for the
reading "He shall rejoice 'with' his wife." Why is he obligated to make her
happy rather than be happy with her? Why is the husband's need for happiness
In the laws of Purim, the Rambam comments that the greatest level of
happiness can be achieved while making others happy. The knowledge that
he is the source of someone else's happiness brings a person the ultimate
level of joy. In a marriage, a woman wants to receive her happiness from her
husband; he is the one person from whom she seeks her ultimate fulfillment.
It is the man's desire to be the source of his wife's fulfillment. The Torah
is teaching us that for a man, the first year of marriage should be
dedicated solely to making his wife happy. In this manner, he will
ultimately bring joy upon himself as well.
What emerges is that both interpretations of the verse "ve'simach es ishto"
dovetail one other. By gladdening his wife he will be rejoicing with her as
2.Rambam Sefer Hamitzvos #212, Sefer Hachinuch #582
3.Yad Zemanim Hilchos Megilla 12:17
Rotten To The Core
"If a man will have a wayward and rebellious son, who does not
hearken to the voice of his father and the voice of his
The Torah teaches that the death penalty is imposed upon a
boy entering his fourteenth year if he exhibits certain specific behaviors.
This boy is termed a "ben sorer u'moreh".. The Talmud explains that,
although the child has not violated any capital crimes, stealing from his
parents to support his gluttonous appetite indicates that eventually he will
resort to bloodshed in order to cater to his needs. This concept is
described by the Talmud as "neherag al shaim sofo; yamus zakai v'al yamus
chayav" - "he is executed based upon his future actions; let him die
innocent rather than guilty."
The Mizrachi raises the following question: In Parshas Vayeira, the Torah
describes how Avraham expelled Hagar and Yishmael from his house. With their
water supply depleted, Yishmael fell deathly ill. The Midrash records how
the ministering angels pleaded with Hashem not to perform a miracle which
would save Yishmael, for he would, in the future, be responsible for
executing and persecuting Jews. Hashem replied to the angels that a person
is judged "ba'asher hu sham" - "according to his present state." Why was
Yishmael not subject to the rule of "execution based upon his future
actions?" To further compound this difficulty, it must be noted that at
the time when Yishmael's life was in the balance, he had already performed
idol worship, attempted murder, and was involved in immoral behavior.
Chazal state that due to all of the requirements necessary for a child to
become a "ben sorer u'moreh", such a case never did and never will occur.
What then, is the Torah's purpose for recording such an impossibility?
Reflecting upon some of the prerequisites for establishing a child as a "ben
sorer u'moreh" allows us to gain insights leading to the answers of the
aforementioned questions. Chazal derive exegetically that a ben sorer
u'moreh's parents must have similar voices, their vision must be intact,
they must possess all of their limbs, and the city wherein the perpetrator
is located must have a "bais din", a Jewish court. The Torah is teaching
us that a child's behavior does not necessarily reflect who he is in
essence. Although it should never be used as an excuse to exonerate
malevolent behavior, a person's environment can influence him and create the
proclivity to act in a certain manner. If a person's behavior is affected by
his environment, there is always hope for him to change, for his essence may
still not be corrupted. However, if a person's behavior is reflective of his
true essence, his environment playing no part in his actions, there is very
little hope of him changing his ways.
In order to establish that a child is a ben sorer u'moreh, the Torah
requires that his actions not be reflective of his environment in any way.
Therefore, his parents must have similar voices, i.e. he cannot be receiving
mixed messages from them. They must agree with one another completely as to
what they expect of their child. The parents must be perceived by the child
as a legitimate authority, commanding the proper respect becoming of them.
Therefore, the parents must have their limbs intact, be able to see and
hear, for a lack in any of these areas may impede their ability to project
themselves as authority figures. The city must possess a bais din, a Jewish
court which promotes the values necessary to create a climate within the
city that makes raising decent children possible.
Chazal are teaching us that it is impossible to find an environment which is
utopian, having no negative impact upon a child. Therefore, the creation of
a ben sorer u'moreh, who, despite being raised in a perfect environment,
still exhibits malevolent behavior, reflecting a corrupt core, is
impossible. The Torah is setting the perfect standard, for which a society
should strive, in order to facilitate successful child-rearing.
Although Yishmael exhibited malevolent behavior, this was not reflective of
his true essence, for he was raised in a household where he was influenced
by his mother, Hagar, an Egyptian princess. There was discord in the house
due to the constant fighting between Sarah and Hagar. This allowed for him
to be judged based upon the present, and not upon his future actions. This
explains why Yishmael is never referred to by name throughout the time
period under discussion. He is called "the son of the maidservant", "the
lad", and "the boy", but never by name, for a name reflects the essence of a
person, and his behavior did not reflect his true essence.
2.21:17 See Rosh Hashana 16b
3.Mizrachi 21:18 see Gur Arye
4.Beraishis 21:10 see Rashi