The posuk Devarim (21:18) says

כִּי־יִהְיֶה לְאִישׁ בֵּן סוֹרֵר וּמוֹרֶה אֵינֶנּוּ שֹׁמֵעַ בְּקוֹל אָבִיו וּבְקוֹל אִמּוֹ וְיסְּרוּ אֹתוֹ וְלֹא יִשְׁמַע אֲלֵיהֶם׃

If a man has a wayward and defiant son, who does not heed his father or mother and does not obey them even after they discipline him,

Why does the Torah only attribute this son to the "man" and not the "woman" (presumably the mother)?

  • 1
    What makes you say that the use of the male word here is to the exclusion of the mother? The male version of the word is often the default when referring to both genders (i.e. I assumed that the word "Ish" here was sort of defined as "parent"). Aug 22, 2018 at 20:00
  • The Ralbag says that the איש is the son himself. He has to be an adult who is a rebellious son. That is why it says בקול אביו and not בקולו
    – Yishai
    Aug 22, 2018 at 20:20
  • @Salmononius2 איש אמו ואביו תיראו
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Aug 22, 2018 at 20:20
  • @Salmononius2 Then it should have said כי יהיה בן סורר ומורה and not said לאיש at all.
    – DonielF
    Aug 23, 2018 at 0:38
  • @Yishai Do you have a link to this Ralbag? I can’t imagine he would just ignore the prefix ל.
    – DonielF
    Aug 23, 2018 at 0:39

2 Answers 2


Rashi (21:11) cites a Midrash that explains the juxtaposition of the passages of the captive woman, the hated wife, and the rebellious son:

אֲבָל אִם נְשָׂאָהּ סוֹפוֹ לִהְיוֹת שׂוֹנְאָהּ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר אַחֲרָיו "כִּי תִהְיֶיןָ לְאִישׁ וְגוֹ'", וְסוֹפוֹ לְהוֹלִיד מִמֶּנָּה בֵּן סוֹרֵר וּמוֹרֶה, לְכָךְ נִסְמְכוּ פָּרָשִׁיּוֹת הַלָּלוּ (תנחומא): However, if he does marry her, in the end he will hate her, for Scripture writes immediately afterwards, (v. 15) “If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, etc.” and ultimately he will beget a refractory and rebellious son by her (v. 18). It is for this reason that these sections are put in juxtaposition. (Sefaria)

It is possible that the verse employs very similar wording - כִּי־יִהְיֶה לְאִישׁ - to the previous passage - כִּי תִהְיֶיןָ לְאִישׁ, rather than say something like, 'When a couple have a rebellious son' (which would have been more consistent with the remainder of the passage which explicitly refers to both parents) to hint at the fact that the same man is being discussed both times, as per the Midrash.


Be careful what you ask for, for you can discover answers you don't want to hear.

Well, technically the family in Judaism is very hierarchical and the children "belong" to the father and not to the mother.

The Torah says numerous times that the woman "gives the children to/for her husband":

"ויסף אברהם ויקח אשה ושמה קטורה: ותלד לו את זמרן ואת יקשן ואת מדן ואת מדין ואת ישבק ואת שוח"

"... Ketura gave birth to all the children for Avrohom"

"ויקח אהרן את אלישבע בת עמינדב אחות נחשון לו לאשה ותלד לו את נדב ואת אביהוא את אלעזר ואת איתמר"

So the woman is an instrument to bear a child for the husband. That's the reason a woman has no obligations toward her own children - neither monetary and nor Mitzvos. Father has both (see Kiddushin 29). Also, the child custody in case of a divorce is never discussed as the kids belong automatically to the father and the mother has no rights.

So back to your question - the wording sounds pretty consistent with the Jewish Halachah.

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