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Here's a short recap on the Ben SU"M (דברים כ"א י"ח) Mitzvah order:

  1. A boy does not listen (rebels against) to his parents in general (no details on how exactly)

  2. He steals his father's money

  3. He buys a large amount of meat and wine with this money specifically

  4. He consumes it "half-done" in a company of bad guys, "looking like a thief".

Part 1:

As we can see, each one is (more or less) a prohibition on its own.

So what exactly is the prohibition (as it is a לא תעשה) in this Mitzvah as it seems a combination of 4 independent Lavim (as the Gemmorah says many time עבר על שתים or עבר חמישה לאוים)?

Can it be a unique Mitzvah of a combination and that's why the Sages say it can never occur?

(Please make a pause and think on your own answer before continuing)


Part 2:

Turns out Rambam is not clear about the Mitzvah either:

  1. In Mishne Torah Hilhos Mamrim (intro) he summarises it as a prohibition to rebel:

(ט) שלא יהיה הבן סורר ומורה על קול אביו ואמו.
9. For a son not to rebel against his father's and mother's instruction.

In other words, we're forbidden to rebel THRU/BY doing #2-4, so rebelling is the main part and stealing, buying, and eating are the details.

  1. In Sefer Hamitzvot (לאו קצה also Hinuch רמח) he writes the opposite:

" הזהירנו מהיות זולל וסובא במאכל ובמשתה בימי הנערות ובתנאים מתוארים בדין סורר ומורה. והוא אמרו לא תאכלו על הדם."

In other words, we're prohibited to eat [the meat and the wine] in such a way described above. So eating is the main part and the rest are details.

So which prohibition is it - rebelling or eating?


Part 3:

Mishnah Sanhedrin 8,5 says:

"בֵּן סוֹרֵר וּמוֹרֶה נִדּוֹן עַל שֵׁם סוֹפוֹ, יָמוּת זַכַּאי וְאַל יָמוּת חַיָּב,"
The wayward and rebellious son is judged on the basis of his end. He should die innocent and not liable.

So according to this Mishnah he does not transgress anything and dies innocent - so there's no such negative Mitzvah at all! So here's where I'm stuck.

Please help me to understand what Mitzvah is it.

  • 1
    He dies innocent of capital punishment. But we give him capital punishment when he is in fact innocent so he won't actually become liable later; because we know for certain that he will. But a sin? Yes he commited sin(s); just not capital sins. – David Kenner Nov 7 '18 at 0:46
  • @DavidKenner It seems that you're repeating my part1, saying it's just a bunch of other prohibitions, nothing new. So we stone him because he transgressed 1 stealing, didn't listen to his folks and ate meat and wine, and that makes him liable? – Al Berko Nov 7 '18 at 12:34
  • 1
    i was responding to your #3. You write : "So according to this Mishnah he does not transgress anything and dies innocent." ... my comment: No, its not that he didn't transgress anything. Rather he did transgress this mitzvah. But unlike others who receive capital punishment, this one is an exception in that he is actually innocent. The definition of "innocent" is limited to "innocent of capital punishment." In plain terms: He was a bad boy, but he wasn't that bad, but the chidush is we kill him anyway because he will one day be very bad if we don't. He is still guilty of sin: being a BSUM. – David Kenner Nov 7 '18 at 17:04
  • @DavidKenner maybe it's beyond me, you say "He is still guilty of sin" but the Mishnah says he's זכאי. Tel me something, what do the jury accuse him of? How does the verdict sound: "Josh, you're guilty of ..." what? BEING BSUM? DOING BSUM? BTW there's no such Mitzva of BEING BSUM. But thank you for discussing that. – Al Berko Nov 7 '18 at 21:13
  • I may have snuck some wine at that age, @Al Berko, but I assure you that all meat during my Bar Mitzvah year was consumed well-done – Josh K Nov 8 '18 at 18:20

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