O holy Shabbes Inspiration Ki Tetze

O holy Shabbes inspiration Ki Tetze

Here’s a tough one
what about stoning a rebellious kid?

When a man has a son who is stubborn
and a rebel one who does not listen to
the voice of his father or the voice of his mother

and they discipline him and he still does not listen to them
then his father and his mother are to grab him
and drag him to the town elders
in the gates of his place

and they are to say to the town elders
our son is stubborn and a rebel
he does not listen to our voice
he is a glutton and a drunkard

then all the men of the town are to pelt him with stones
so that he dies
[what?!]
so shall you burn the evil out of your midst [oh – my – God]

and all Israel will hear and be awed. [Deut 23:18 ff.]

I don’t believe this for a minute
this is like threatening your kid with Boys Republic
— who actually got sent to Boys Republic?
[only Jules – see Jules and the Dome of Truth
and I may have made that up].
The Rabbis said: the stoning of a son
who is stubborn and a rebel
never happened
and never will happen.
Why then was this law written in the Torah?
It was put in the Torah so we can study it
and receive reward for our study.
[BT Sanhedrin 71a]

Meaning — we should talk about it
because there may have been a time
there may be a time to come
when you want to strangle your kid
you gotta talk about it
study it turn it and turn it for what it means
lousy good-for-nothing kid
so-and-so ungrateful no-count lowlife kid
talk it through
study it think it through
let the heat dissipate.

Your reward: patience.
your reward —
think it through
find your quiet
make your peace
it may not even involve your kid
it’s something you had to do
there’s your reward
doing your work independently
of that good-for-nothing lowlife kid of yours.

The Talmud continues [Sanhedrin 71a]
Rabbi Yonatan said,
you are wrong.
It did happen.
I saw one
[kid who was stoned to death]
and sat on his grave.

If we thought we were out of this story
with our sophisticated sensibility
of enlightened parenting intact
consider this picture of Rabbi Yonatan sitting on a grave —
back to the verse
the end specifically
all Israel will hear and be awed.

Rabbi Yonatan:
I don’t know whose grave I was sitting on
but the point is when my kid hears about it
he and all Israel will be awed
moved
look I’m trying to run a household here.

We don’t really act this way
but we do resort to lesser strategies once in a while
we get frustrated
our kids aren’t behaving the way we would have them behave
parenting is not the sophisticated set of clever strategies
the books recommend
family peace is not the way we intended it
HEY IT’S NOT HAPPENING THE WAY IT WAS SUPPOSED TO —
we’re doing the best we can
what we are reaching for is a way to return
Ki Tetze
when you leave
ya-tza
the room for leaving
when we leave our expectations
over the great messes that our lives have become
when we cease to compare the what-it-is
to the what-we-wanted
or the-way-it-was-supposed-to-be

when we leave Ki Tetze
behind all the supposed-to’s of our existence
our kids —
supposed to behave this way
our husbands our wives —
supposed to act this way
ourselves —
supposed to enjoy our lives this way

when we ki tetze
when we leave
if we leave
our expectations where they belong
in a shoebox under the bed

then
are we free

ki tetze when we leave our expectations
we are free to deal imaginatively
with life
the great what-it-is
we have ki tetze’d
we have left the supposed-to-be
and have entered the holy
way-it-is
now we are free to be alive
to life in its complexity
its messiness
independent of our effort to manage
cajole
contain

we are alive to life as it presents itself to us
not as we would have had it

we are now truly
co-creators with God
in the full catastrophe of existence

and we are free.

Forgive us for using lofty strategies
and less lofty strategies
we are all learning
we are learning
studying the world
so we may receive
the merits.

Amen.

jsg, usa