Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk


The Traitor from Within


Traitors come in many forms and genders.  There is the traitor who sabotages his country,  the traitor who reports his friends, the one who cavorts with enemies, the traitor against his own religionists,  the traitor who sells his honor for money or fame, and the traitor who destroys his own family for his personal gains and/or out of anger.  One of the most serious “neveres” is to turn on parents.  The parents that have sheltered, loved and protected him in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, under all circumstances, and against all odds.   

In our Jewish faith one of our greatest traitors who brings the most pain is the child, now grown, who throws away his “Nemone” and marries a non-Jew, including someone from an oriental or otherwise racial partner.  It is frequently rebellion against imaginary injuries or to prove to the much beleaguered parents how liberal he is compared to their “outmoded” beliefs.  He happily throws away all that he has been taught, all the beautiful, “graden derach” that has been a part of his family and religious tradition.  He not only throws away the honesty, the ten commandments, with his deed, but flaunts his heroics and his liberality for all who do or who do not wish to see it.

These deeds exhibit the “jetzer horreh,” the contradictions and evil spirit of the person thus beset.  Driven by the spirit thus described, the individual exhibits psychopathic as well as sadistic tendencies.  He does not care what his parents say or feel, he acts upon his impulses, his desires to cause pain to others to make him the master of his emotions as he feels them at a particular moment in time.  He is the narcissistic personality who feels he owes no one anything and is free to achieve all of the hedonistic pleasures that he can and that please him at the moment.  People who contradict him are damned and must step out of his way since they are labeled bigots and ignoramuses and are in his path. No amount of pleading will change the mind or the deeds of the “player.” No pathos, no family illness, need, tragedy, or even death will change them.  He flaunts his “adulthood,” his right to do as he pleases, anywhere, anytime and under any and all circumstances!

Parents who are punished with such a child reproach themselves and ponder what they could possibly have done to create such a human.  In their futile search for the answer they often blame each other, the environment, a word once spoken in anger, or some other insignificant event that created the monster they were dealt.  The other offspring in the family thus affected suffer also from the deviant brother and parents “bend over backwards” to please, frequently doing inadvertent harm by overindulgence and lack of discipline for the siblings.

No matter how tough the parents want to be, how they have pleaded, begged and threatened the affected adult, they can never forget their child, the joy that his birth brought them, the care and the love they have given, and everything that the child, now man, could have been!


Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the author of several books and articles.

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