They should probably make teacher appreciation day at the start of the year, not in the middle or the end, because I don’t know a parent who is not thrilled to be able to get their kid out of the house again and back to school this upcoming week. But the truth is that while we like to think our kids are being educated in school and we pay a lot of money for whatever they do there, the main education of any child comes from seeing what parents do at home. The Tiferes Banim interprets the pasuk in the parsha of ben sorer u’moreh, “ainenu shome’a b’kol aviv u’bkol imo,” that if the child does not hear the voice of his parents davening, learning, etc. then “v'yisru oso v’lo yishma aleihem,” when they rebuke him and tell him that he has to learn, he has to daven, etc., he is not going to listen. Why should he listen to their speeches about what he should do if they behave differently themselves?
My two additional cents: the Ohr haChaim in parshas Braishis distinguishes between the word “kol,” which refers to tone of voice, and words like “dibur” or “amira,” which refer to what is actually said. When Adam is chastised, “Ki Shamata b’kol ishtecha…,” Hashem was telling him that the reason he was led astray is because he paid attention to the enticing voice Chavah had used, the way she spoke. Had he paid attention only to the words only, he would have recognized that they contradicted Hashem’s instructions. “Hakol kol Ya’akov” means that Yitzchak recognized the tone of voice as that of Ya’akov and not Eisav. Similarly, perhaps “ainenu shome’a b’kol aviv u’bkol imo,” (it could have just as easily said, “ainenu shomea l’kol aviv v’imo”) means that the ben sorer u’moreh is not hearing any instruction given in the tone of voice of a parent. There are parents who instead of speaking like parents speak like taskmasters (they are authoritarian instead of authoritative, as the psychology books put it). And on the other extreme, daughter #2 yesterday explained a certain phrase to me and then added that “It’s not how a parent would say it.” I’m glad she recognizes the difference, but there are parents who don’t and prefer to speak like teenagers or friends. “Ainenu shome’a b’kol aviv u’b’kol imo” – the ben sorer u’moreh is not hearing a father’s voice, a mother’s voice. He hears words, but hearing words alone without hearing them expressed in the proper tone and nuance -- that of a parent -- are not enough.
The gemara (Nedarim 81) writes that the Chachamim and Nevi’im could not understand why the churban happened until Hashem himself revealed the reason. The gemara darshens the double-language of the pasuk in Yirmiyahu (9:12) “V’lo shamu b’koli v’lo halchu bah” and asks isn’t “lo shamu b’koli” the same as “lo halchu bah?” The gemara answers that the extra language reveals that the sin that caused the churban was the failure to recite birchas haTorah. Ran explains that the lack of bracha shows that the learning lacked any feeling of lishma (see also Maharal in the intro to Tiferes Yisrael). How do Chazal get that lesson from the pasuk? If you will forgive me (it’s aggadita, so I'll take greater license) for learning differently than the Ran, I would suggest that the derasha comes from the words “lo sham’u b’koli,” not "lo halchu bah" as he learns. “Kol,” again, is about the tone, not the words. Klal Yisrael was not guilty of not learning. There was learning galore – but the tone was wrong, the feeling was wrong. The Rambam compares the relationship one should have with Hashem to the relationship between a husband and wife. It’s not just what a husband says to a wife, or vice versa, that is different than conversations had with others, but the whole tone of how they communicate with each other is different. That's what was missing in the relationship between Hashem and Klal Yisrael at the time of the churban (see also Netziv on the words “ainenu shome’a b’kol aviv ub’kol imo” as referring to Torah.)
Why is the ben sorer u’moreh punished so severely? Chazal ask, “For eating a tartimor of meat and drinking a half a lug of Italian wine a father and mother should bring their child to get sekilah?!” The gemara in the name of R’ Shimon concludes that the parsha never happened – it’s an impossibility. It was only written only to give us extra schar for learning Torah (and the meforshim discuss why this parsha in particular is given for schar; in theory any number of imaginary laws could be given for the same reason.) The Ibn Ezra interestingly does justify the killing of the ben sorer u’moreh. He explains that a life of running after indulgences and constant drink is “k’mo apikores,” a very striking statement. Not, as Rashi explains, that such a lifestyle will lead to greater crimes, but that the lifestyle of the ben sorer u’moreh is itself a crime (see also Ramban).
If the Ibn Ezra’s moral intuition is right, then why doesn't R' Shimon say the same thing? Why doesn’t he answer that the ben sorer u’moreh is deserving of what he gets because he is an apikores? I think the answer is that Chazal and the Ibn Ezra are asking two different questions. The Ibn Ezra’s focus is on what the ben sorer u’moreh did wrong – why he is morally culpable. The question Chazal are asking is not how or why the ben sorer u’moreh deserves to be punished so severely, but rather how in the world could there be parents who would bring their own child to such a fate. That is the point which Chazal found so unbelievable. “Bneinu zeh sorer u’moreh…” The Alshich reads the extra word “bneinu” as an admission of guilt on the part of the parents – it’s our child, and therefore, our fault. I would suggest that it can be read as a message of acceptance – true, this is a sorer u’moreh, but it’s still “bneinu,” our child. It’s the incongruity of those feelings with the rest of the pasuk that make this parsha unfathomable.