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.


בֵּן סוֹרֵר וּמוֹרֶה הָאָמוּר בַּתּוֹרָה הֲרֵי נִתְפָּרְשָׁה בּוֹ סְקִילָה וְלֹא עָנַשׁ הַכָּתוּב אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן הִזְהִיר. וְהֵיכָן הִזְהִיר לֹא תֹאכְלוּ עַל הַדָּם לֹא תֹּאכַל אֲכִילָה הַמְּבִיאָה לִידֵי שְׁפִיכוּת דָּמִים וְזוֹ אֲכִילַת בֵּן סוֹרֵר וּמוֹרֶה שֶׁאֵינוֹ נֶהֱרָג אֶלָּא עַל אֲכִילָה מְכֹעֶרֶת שֶׁאָכַל. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כא כ) "זוֹלֵל וְסֹבֵא" מִפִּי הַשְּׁמוּעָה לָמְדוּ שֶׁזּוֹלֵל הוּא הָאוֹכֵל בָּשָׂר בְּרַעַבְתָּנוּת וְסוֹבֵא הַשּׁוֹתֶה יַיִן בְּרַעַבְתָּנוּת:


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.


אֲכִילָה זוֹ שֶׁהוּא חַיָּב עָלֶיהָ דְּבָרִים הַרְבֵּה יֵשׁ בָּהֶם וְהֵן כֻּלָּן הֲלָכָה מִפִּי הַקַּבָּלָה. אֵינוֹ חַיָּב סְקִילָה עַד שֶׁיִּגְנֹב מִשֶּׁל אָבִיו וְיִקְנֶה בָּשָׂר בְּזוֹל וְיַיִן בְּזוֹל. וְיֹאכַל וְיִשְׁתֶּה חוּץ מֵרְשׁוּת אָבִיו בַּחֲבוּרָה שֶׁכֻּלָּן רֵיקָנִין וּפְחוּתִין. וְיֹאכַל הַבָּשָׂר חַי וְאֵינוֹ חַי מְבֻשָּׁל וְאֵינוֹ מְבֻשָּׁל כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁהַגַּנָּבִים אוֹכְלִים. וְיִשְׁתֶּה הַיַּיִן מָזוּג כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁהַגַּרְגְּרָנִים שׁוֹתִים. וְהוּא שֶׁיֹּאכַל מִשְׁקַל חֲמִשִּׁים דִּינָרִין מִבָּשָׂר זֶה בִּמְלוּגְמָא אַחַת וְיִשְׁתֶּה חֲצִי לוֹג מִיַּיִן זֶה בְּבַת אַחַת. גָּנַב מִשֶּׁל אָבִיו וְאָכַל אֲכִילָה זוֹ בִּרְשׁוּת אָבִיו. אוֹ שֶׁגָּנַב מִשֶּׁל אֲחֵרִים וְאָכַל אֲכִילָה זוֹ הַמְכֹעֶרֶת בֵּין בִּרְשׁוּת אָבִיו בֵּין בִּרְשׁוּת אֲחֵרִים. הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר. וְכֵן אִם גָּנַב מִשֶּׁל אָבִיו וְאָכַל אֲכִילָה מְכֹעֶרֶת כָּזוֹ בִּרְשׁוּת אֲחֵרִים וְהָיְתָה אֲכִילַת מִצְוָה אֲפִלּוּ מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם [אוֹ אֲכִילַת עֲבֵרָה אֲפִלּוּ מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם] פָּטוּר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כא כ) "אֵינֶנּוּ שֹׁמֵעַ בְּקלֵנוּ" שֶׁאֵינוֹ עוֹבֵר בַּאֲכִילָה זוֹ אֶלָּא עַל קוֹלָם. יָצָא זֶה שֶׁעָבַר בָּהּ עַל דִּבְרֵי תּוֹרָה. אוֹ שֶׁאֲכָלָהּ בִּדְבַר מִצְוָה. כֵּיצַד. אָכַל אֲכִילָה זוֹ הַמְכֹעֶרֶת עִם הַחֲבוּרָה הָרָעָה שֶׁאוֹכֵל עִמָּהֶם בִּדְבַר מִצְוָה. אוֹ שֶׁאֲכָלוֹ מַעֲשֵׂר שֵׁנִי בִּירוּשָׁלַיִם אֲפִלּוּ אֲכָלוֹ בְּתַנְחוּמֵי אֲבֵלִים שֶׁהִיא מִצְוָה מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר. וְכֵן אִם אֲכָלָהּ מִנְּבֵלוֹת וּטְרֵפוֹת שְׁקָצִים וּרְמָשִׂים. אֲפִלּוּ אָכַל בְּתַעֲנִית צִבּוּר שֶׁהִיא עֲבֵרָה מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם. הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר מִן הַמִּיתָה:


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.


אָכַל כָּל מַאֲכָל וְלֹא אָכַל בְּשַׂר בְּהֵמָה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאָכַל אֲכִילָה זוֹ מִבְּשַׂר הָעוֹף פָּטוּר. וְאִם אָכַל אֲכִילָה זוֹ מִבְּשַׂר בְּהֵמָה וְהִשְׁלִים הַחֲמִשִּׁים דִּינָרִים מִבְּשַׂר הָעוֹף חַיָּב. שָׁתָה כָּל מַשְׁקֶה וְלֹא שָׁתָה יַיִן פָּטוּר:


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.


אָכַל בָּשָׂר חַי וְשָׁתָה יַיִן חַי פָּטוּר שֶׁזֶּה קֶרִי הוּא וְאֵין אָדָם יָכוֹל לְהִמָּשֵׁךְ בָּזֶה. וְכֵן אִם אָכַל בָּשָׂר מָלִיחַ בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁלִישִׁי לִמְלִיחָתוֹ אוֹ שָׁתָה יַיִן מִגִּתּוֹ פָּטוּר שֶׁאֵין אָדָם יָכוֹל לְהִמָּשֵׁךְ בָּזֶה:

Mishneh Torah (Moznaim)

Featuring a modern English translation and a commentary that presents a digest of the centuries of Torah scholarship which have been devoted to the study of the Mishneh Torah by Maimonides.


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.


לֹא עָנַשׁ הַכָּתוּב קָטָן שֶׁלֹּא בָּא לִכְלַל הַמִּצְוֹת. וְכֵן אִישׁ שֶׁגָּדַל וַהֲרֵי הוּא בִּרְשׁוּת עַצְמוֹ אֵינוֹ נִסְקָל מִפְּנֵי שֶׁגָּנַב וְאָכַל וְשָׁתָה אֲכִילָה זוֹ הַמְכֹעֶרֶת. הָא כֵּיצַד. מִפִּי הַשְּׁמוּעָה לָמְדוּ שֶׁאֵין דִּין זֶה אֶלָּא בְּבֶן שְׁלֹשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנָה וְיוֹם אֶחָד שֶׁהֵבִיא שְׁתֵּי שְׂעָרוֹת עַד שֶׁיַּקִּיף כָּל הַגִּיד וְאַחַר שֶׁיַּקִּיף הַשֵּׂעָר כָּל הַגִּיד הֲרֵי הוּא בִּרְשׁוּת עַצְמוֹ וְאֵינוֹ נִסְקָל:


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.


כָּל יָמָיו שֶׁל בֵּן סוֹרֵר וּמוֹרֶה אֵינָן אֶלָּא שְׁלֹשָׁה חֳדָשִׁים מֵאַחַר שֶׁיָּבִיא שְׁתֵּי שְׂעָרוֹת. לְפִי שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר שֶׁתִּתְעַבֵּר אִשְׁתּוֹ וְיִהְיֶה עֻבָּרָהּ נִכָּר בִּשְׁלֹשָׁה חֳדָשִׁים וְנֶאֱמַר (דברים כא יח) "כִּי יִהְיֶה לְאִישׁ בֵּן סוֹרֵר וּמוֹרֶה" וְלֹא אָב סוֹרֵר וּמוֹרֶה הָא לָמַדְתָּ שֶׁאִם הִקִּיף הַשֵּׂעָר אֶת כָּל הַגִּיד קֹדֶם שֶׁיַּשְׁלִים שְׁלֹשָׁה חֳדָשִׁים הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר:


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."


כֵּיצַד דָּנִין בֵּן סוֹרֵר וּמוֹרֶה. מְבִיאִין אוֹתוֹ אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ תְּחִלָּה לְבֵית דִּין שֶׁל שְׁלֹשָׁה וְאוֹמְרִין לָהֶן בְּנֵנוּ זֶה סוֹרֵר וּמוֹרֶה. וּמְבִיאִין שְׁנֵי עֵדִים שֶׁגָּנַב מִשֶּׁל אָבִיו וְקָנָה בָּשָׂר וְיַיִן בְּמַה שֶּׁגָּנַב וְאָכַל אוֹתָהּ אֲכִילָה הָאֲמוּרָה אַחַר הַהַתְרָאָה. וְזוֹ הִיא עֵדוּת הָרִאשׁוֹנָה וּמַלְקִין אוֹתוֹ כִּשְׁאָר חַיָּבֵי מַלְקוֹת. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כא יח) "וְיִסְּרוּ אֹתוֹ וְלֹא יִשְׁמַע אֲלֵיהֶם". חָזַר וְגָנַב מִשֶּׁל אָבִיו וְאָכַל אֲכִילָה זוֹ. אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ מְבִיאִין אוֹתוֹ לְבֵית דִּין שֶׁל שְׁלֹשָׁה וְעֶשְׂרִים וּמְבִיאִין שְׁנֵי עֵדִים וּמְעִידִין עָלָיו שֶׁגָּנַב וְאָכַל אֲכִילָה זוֹ הָאֲמוּרָה אַחַר שֶׁהִתְרוּ בּוֹ. וְזוֹ הִיא עֵדוּת אַחֲרוֹנָה אֲפִלּוּ הָיוּ הַשְּׁנַיִם הָרִאשׁוֹנִים הֵם הָאַחֲרוֹנִים. וְאַחַר שֶׁמְּקַבְּלִין עֵדוּתָן בּוֹדְקִין אוֹתוֹ שֶׁמָּא הִקִּיף הַשֵּׂעָר אֶת כָּל הַגִּיד. אִם לֹא הִקִּיף וְלֹא שָׁלְמוּ לוֹ שְׁלֹשָׁה חֳדָשִׁים גּוֹמְרִין דִּינוֹ כְּדֶרֶךְ כָּל הֲרוּגֵי בֵּית דִּין וְסוֹקְלִין אוֹתוֹ. וְאֵינוֹ נִסְקָל עַד שֶׁיְּהוּ שָׁם שְׁלֹשָׁה הָרִאשׁוֹנִים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כא כ) "בְּנֵנוּ זֶה" זֶהוּ שֶׁלָּקָה בִּפְנֵיכֶם:


If his father and his mother forgave him before he was sentenced, he is not liable.


וְאִם מָחֲלוּ לוֹ אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּגָּמֵר דִּינוֹ פָּטוּר:


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.


בָּרַח עַד שֶׁלֹּא נִגְמַר דִּינוֹ וְאַחַר כָּךְ הִקִּיף הַשֵּׂעָר מִלְּמַטָּה פָּטוּר. וְאִם מִשֶּׁנִּגְמַר דִּינוֹ בָּרַח אֲפִלּוּ הִזְקִין כָּל עֵת שֶׁיִּמָּצֵא יִסָּקֵל שֶׁכָּל מִי שֶׁנִּגְמַר דִּינוֹ הֲרֵי הוּא כְּהָרוּג וְאֵין לוֹ דָּם:


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.


הָיָה אָבִיו רוֹצֶה וְאִמּוֹ אֵינָהּ רוֹצָה אִמּוֹ רוֹצָה וְאָבִיו אֵינוֹ רוֹצֶה אֵינוֹ נַעֲשֶׂה בֵּן סוֹרֵר וּמוֹרֶה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כא יט) "וְתָפְשׂוּ בוֹ אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ". הָיָה אֶחָד מֵהֶן גִּדֵּם אוֹ חִגֵּר אוֹ אִלֵּם אוֹ סוּמָא אוֹ חֵרֵשׁ אֵינוֹ נַעֲשֶׂה בֵּן סוֹרֵר וּמוֹרֶה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וְתָפְשׂוּ בוֹ וְלֹא גִּדְּמִים. (דברים כא יט) "וְהוֹצִיאוּ אֹתוֹ" וְלֹא חִגְּרִים. (דברים כא כ) "וְאָמְרוּ" וְלֹא אִלְּמִים. (דברים כא כ) "בְּנֵנוּ זֶה" וְלֹא סוּמִים. (דברים כא כ) "אֵינֶנּוּ שֹׁמֵעַ בְּקלֵנוּ" וְלֹא חֵרְשִׁים:


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.


גְּזֵרַת הַכָּתוּב הוּא שֶׁיִּסָּקֵל בֵּן סוֹרֵר וּמוֹרֶה. אֲבָל הַבַּת אֵינָהּ נִדּוֹנֵית בְּדִין זֶה שֶׁאֵין דַּרְכָּהּ לְהִמָּשֵׁךְ בַּאֲכִילָה וּשְׁתִיָּה כְּאִישׁ. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כא יח) "בֵּן" וְלֹא בַּת וְלֹא טֻמְטוּם וְאַנְדְּרוֹגִינוּס:


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.


טֻמְטוּם שֶׁנִּקְרַע וְנִמְצָא זָכָר אֵינוֹ נַעֲשֶׂה בֵּן סוֹרֵר וּמוֹרֶה. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כא יח) "כִּי יִהְיֶה לְאִישׁ בֵּן סוֹרֵר וּמוֹרֶה" עַד שֶׁיִּהְיֶה בֵּן מִשְּׁעַת הַתְרָאָה:


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.'


בֵּן סוֹרֵר וּמוֹרֶה צָרִיךְ הַכְרָזָה. כֵּיצַד מַכְרִיזִין עָלָיו. כּוֹתְבִין לְכָל יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּבֵית דִּין פְּלוֹנִי סָקַלְנוּ פְּלוֹנִי מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהָיָה בֵּן סוֹרֵר וּמוֹרֶה:


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.


בֵּן סוֹרֵר וּמוֹרֶה הֲרֵי הוּא כְּכָל הֲרוּגֵי בֵּית דִּין שֶׁמָּמוֹנָם לְיוֹרְשֵׁיהֶן שֶׁאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאָבִיו גָּרַם לוֹ סְקִילָה הֲרֵי הוּא יוֹרֵשׁ כָּל נְכָסָיו:

Blessed be God who grants assistance.

בְּרִיךְ רַחֲמָנָא דְּסַיְּעָן