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  • Torah Reading: Naso
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Ki Tetzei(Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19)

Don't Give Up!

If a man will have a wayward and rebellious son... (Deut. 21:18)

The "Rebellious son" is one who repeatedly steals money to purchase meat and wine and consumes it in a disgusting manner. He is brought to Bais Din, the Jewish Court and is subject to capital punishment. According to one opinion in the Gemara the case of the "rebellious son" never happened and never will happen, since in practice the detailed requirements derived from the verses are never fulfilled.(1) If so, why did God find it necessary to place this portion in the Torah?

The death penalty imposed on the rebellious son is not because of the gravity of his sins, but because his behavior demonstrates that he will degenerate into a monstrous human being for whom there is no hope. The Torah is teaching us that a person for whom there is no hope will never exist. If you were created, and you exist, then you can become great!

The problem is that we may fall and convince ourselves that we are failures. If we try something a few times and it doesn't go, we then believe that we can't be successful. But the truth is the exact opposite. King Solomon wrote, "A righteous person falls seven times, yet rises again." (Mishlei 24:16) The uninformed assume the meaning to be that greatness can be achieved despite experiencing an occasional stumble; however, the wise know that the verse's intention is to instruct us that the very path to greatness is solely attained by stumbling and then rising.(2) Stumbling is not a sign of failure but rather an opportunity for greatness. Each time you fall know that you're one step closer to becoming great!

Thomas Edison, considered the greatest inventor of his time, was responsible for over 1,000 different patents, and some refinements of previous inventions. Edison failed to refine the light bulb (one of the few things he merely refined but did not invent) so many times that it took him 10,000 attempts to perfect it! However, rather than accepting failure 9,999 times he is quoted as saying, "I have not failed. I have just found 9,999 ways that do not work." In his mind failure was simply another stepping stone on the road to success.


1. Sanhedrin 71a.

2. Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner, Pachad Yitzchak, Michtavim 128.


August 11, 2013

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Visitor Comments: 4

(4) Anonymous, September 12, 2016 1:22 PM

Excellent article and very well written! Thanks for posting!

(3) Anonymous, August 24, 2015 10:55 AM

Excellent and inspiring article! Thanks for posting!

(2) Anonymous, August 15, 2014 2:05 PM


This is great! Thank you so much for posting it!

(1) Matthew, August 13, 2013 6:28 AM


Curious that the individual you cite was a virulent anti-semite. Perhaps there's a message there of the human capacity to have both good and evil within. And the opportunity for us to reach out; praise the good; and mitigate the bad. Or am I simply a polyanna?

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