Some things about time's passage are deceptive. Israel's headlines today could have been copied from almost any Israeli paper printed since the State's beginning. Political turmoil; will there be a cabinet crisis? Tension on the northern border; Arab hostility… Yawn. Last week's Parshah, Ki Teitzei has a narrative that can open your eyes to the possibility of staying really alive, and not submitting to the deadening habits of thinking 'Nothing is Ever New'.
The Torah tells us about a case that we are also told never occurred and never will. It is the case of a boy between twelve and a half and thirteen who steals a huge amount of meat and eats in the company of bad companions without it being really cooked. He also has to drink a great deal of wine and to top it off, his parents have to warn him to stop this kind of behavior in the presence of valid witnesses, and do everything in their power to get him to stop. If this has no effect, he is brought before the court, and if the evidence proves his guilt he is killed. You can easily see why this isn't going to happen: All he has to do is to cook the meat a little longer, or just wait a couple of months until the entire case isn't relevant.
So, why do we learn it? The word 'Torah' is related to the word 'Horaah', meaning teaching. Nothing is irrelevant. A further question is the way he is put to death. The justification for his execution is that he will inevitably go through his parents money and end up a thief and a murderer. The fact is though, that the means of execution for murder is death by the sword, which is less severe than the punishment meted out to the rebellious son. It appears on the surface that the potential for murder is worse than the deed itself. Rav Aharon Kotler asked these questions and resolved it with his hallmark brilliance.
The majority of murders are the result of emotions gone wild. Passion. Fear. Greed. Hatred. The case of the rebellios son (which as stated previously was never an actual case, but an instruction about what life is really like) tells you that there is something worse. That is reaching point in which the default response to life is one that can only turn you into a monster. Training yourself to impulsivity, animalistic inability to say no to yourself under any ciurcimstance, turns you into a human beast. Conceivably there is a murderer out there who has other parts of his inner life that are still spiritually real. While he will still be executed (since human beings can only judge deeds, not the of another person), we believe that it is possible for him to do tshuvah and to die in that state. When you turn yourself into a human beast through inner corruption that is manifest by reaching a point where your habits of respnse silence your conscience so totally that you can't control yourself at all, there is no one left to save.
What does this have to do with you? Rav Dessler says that on Rosh HaShanah we are judged by Hashem, who is the only One who can judge you as a human being. If you are sincere about wanting to change direction, and break free of distructive responses to life, even if you haven't fully integrated your desire to change, and even though it will take time, and there will be failures, you are judged favorably. You have demonstrated to Him that you are still alive inside.
Don't be too hard on yourselves! You have all proven that you can change direction just by having chosen to learn. Just have enough inner courage to keep it up, which isn't always easy once you are out of the bubble. Do what you can to find good friends, mentors, and most of all, see your own goodness.