Deuteronomy 21:18-21 states:
If a person will have a wayward and rebellious son who does not heed the voice of his father or the voice of his mother and they chastise him, but he does not heed them. His father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city and to the gate of his place. They say to the elders of his city: "This son of ours is wayward and rebellious. He does not heed our voice; he is gluttonous and a lush." All of the men of his city will clout him with stones, killing him, and you shall remove evil from your midst. All Israel shall hear and fear.
Our Sages (primarily in Sanhedrin 68b ff) interpret this passage precisely, explaining how each term used in the passage teaches us a different concept. In the chapter that follows, the Rambam summarizes and organizes their teachings, giving us a clear-cut picture of the requirements of the mitzvah. It is important to emphasize that there is a difference of opinion among our Sages if the judgment of "a wayward and rebellious son" ever took place (Sanhedrin 71a). Some maintain that such a judgment was never issued. Indeed, from all the particulars mentioned by the Rambam, one can understand that it could be impossible for such a judgment to have been issued. Others maintain that they know of an instance where an individual was executed because of this transgression.
Sanhedrin 72a asks: Is eating the gluttonous meal (to be described by the Rambam) a sufficient cause for a person to be executed? In resolution, our Sages explain that the Torah considered the ultimate fate of such a person. He will be drawn after his natural tendencies and continue to steal and eat gluttonously. Ultimately, he will become a robber and slay people in order to support his habit. It is preferable, the Torah maintains, for him to be executed early in life, before he commits such severe sins.
It is explicitly stated that the wayward and rebellious son described in the Torah should be stoned to death. Now the Torah does not administer a punishment unless a warning was issued first. Where was the warning issued? In Leviticus 19:26: "Do not eat upon the blood," which can be interpreted to mean: "Do not partake of food that will lead to the shedding of blood." This refers to the meal eaten by the wayward and rebellious son who is executed only because of the hateful feast of which he partook as Deuteronomy 21:20 states: "He is gluttonous and a lush." According to the Oral Tradition, we learned that this was interpreted to mean that he ate meat and drank wine in a ravenous manner.
There are many particulars involved in the meal for which he is liable for eating. All of these are conveyed by the Oral Tradition. He is not liable for stoning until he steals from his father and buys meat and wine at a cheap price. He must then eat it outside his father's domain, together with a group that are all empty and base. He must eat meat that is raw, but not entirely raw, cooked but not entirely cooked, as is the practice of thieves. He must drink the wine as it is thinned as the alcoholics drink. He must eat a quantity of meat weighing 50 dinarim in one sitting, and drink half a log of this wine at one time.
If he stole from his father and partook of such a meal inside his father's domain, or stole from others and partook of this hateful meal in his father's domain or in another's domain, he is not liable. If the meal involves a mitzvah, even a mitzvah of Rabbinic origin, or the meal involves a transgression, even a transgression of Rabbinic origin, he is not liable. This may be inferred from the phrase (Ibid.): "He does not heed our voice"; i.e., through eating this meal, he violates only his parents' command. This excludes one who through this meal violates the words of the Torah or who partakes of it for the sake of a mitzvah.
What is implied? If he partook of such a hateful meal together with a wicked company for the sake of a mitzvah, or he partook of the second tithe in Jerusalem, even if they eat a meal comforting the bereaved which is a mitzvah of Rabbinic origin, he is not liable. Similarly, if he ate meat from animals that were not ritually slaughtered or which were trefe, teeming animals or crawling animals, and even if he ate on a communal fast day, a transgression of Rabbinic origin, he is not liable for execution.
If he partook of any type of food, but did not partake of meat, even if he partook of fowl, he is not liable. If he partook of this meal from meat, but reached the sum of 50 dinarim by including fowl, he is liable. If he drank other beverages, but did not drink wine, he is not liable.
When he ate raw meat and undiluted wine, he is not liable. The rationale is that this is an occasional occurrence and not something that a person will be drawn after. Similarly, if he ate this meal of salted meat on the third day after it was salted, or drank fresh grape juice, he is not liable. For a person will not be drawn after such matters.
For this transgression, the Torah does not punish a child who has not come to the age where he is responsible for the observance of mitzvot. Similarly, a man who has matured and is independent is not stoned to death, because he ate and drank such a hateful meal.
What is implied? According to the Oral Tradition, we learned that this law concerns a youth of thirteen between the time he grew two pubic hairs and the time at which his entire male organ is surrounded by pubic hair. After the entire male organ is surrounded by pubic hair, he is considered as independent and is not executed by stoning.
The entire period for which a "wayward and rebellious son" is liable is only three months from the time he manifests signs of physical maturity. For it is possible that his wife will conceive and her fetus will be recognizable within three months. This is derived from Deuteronomy 21:18: "If a person will have a wayward and rebellious son..."; a son, and not a "wayward and rebellious father."
Thus one may conclude that if one's pubic hair surrounds the entire organ before the three months are completed, he is not liable.
How is the judgment of a "wayward and rebellious son" adjudicated? First, his father and mother bring him to a court of three judges and tell them: "Our son is wayward and rebellious." They bring two witnesses who testify that he stole from his father and bought meat and wine with what he stole and partook of the meal described above after being warned. This is the first testimony.
He receives lashes as are administered to all of those who are obligated to be lashed, as Deuteronomy 21:20 states: "they chastise him, but he does not heed them." Should he steal from his father a second time and partake of such a meal, his father and mother bring him to a court of 23 judges. They bring two witnesses who testify that he stole and partook of this meal after being warned. This is the second testimony. It is acceptable if the first two witnesses also deliver the latter testimony.
After their testimony is heard, the youth is examined to see if his pubic hair surrounded his entire male organ. If that is not the case and it is not three months after he became thirteen, he complete the judgment against him as is done with all those executed by the court and he is stoned to death. He is not stoned to death unless the three judges who originally sentenced him to be lashed are present. This is implied by the phrase: "This son of ours," i.e., the one that was lashed in your presence."
If his father and his mother forgave him before he was sentenced, he is not liable.
If he fled before he was sentenced to death and afterwards, his pubic hair surrounded his organ, he is not liable. If he fled after he was sentenced, even if he grows old, whenever he is discovered, he should be stoned to death. For whenever a person has been sentenced to death, it is as if he has already been slain and he has no blood.
If his father desires to convict him and his mother does not desire, or his mother desires and his father does not desire, he is not judged as a "wayward and rebellious son," as implied by Deuteronomy 21:19: "His father and mother shall take hold of him."
If one of the parents has had his arm amputated, was lame, dumb, blind, or deaf, the son is not judged as a "wayward and rebellious son." These concepts are derived as follows: "His father and mother shall take hold of him" - This excludes parents with amputated arms" "And bring him out" - this excludes the lame. "They say" - this excludes the dumb. "This son of ours" - This excludes the blind. "He does not heed our voice" - This excludes the dumb.
There is a Scriptural decree that a "wayward and rebellious son" should be stoned to death. A daughter, by contrast, is not judged in this manner. The rationale is that she does not have the tendency to become habituated to eating and drinking. For this reason, the Torah states: "A son," i.e., and not a daughter. A tumtum and an adrogynus are also excluded.
When an operation is performed on a tumtum and it is discovered that he is a male, he is not judged as a "wayward and rebellious son." The rationale is Deuteronomy 21:18 states: "If a person will have a wayward and rebellious son...." Implied is that he must be a son at the time he receives the warning.
An announcement must be made concerning the execution of a "wayward and rebellious son." What type of announcement is made? A declaration is written and sent to the entire Jewish people: "In this-and-this court, we stoned so-and-so because he was a "wayward and rebellious son.'
A "wayward and rebellious son" is like all others executed by the court; their estate is inherited by their heirs. Even though the person's father caused him to be stoned to death, the father inherits all of his possessions.
Blessed be God who grants assistance.