Monday, April 15, 2013

Hitting kids is wrong because it causes emotional damage?!

One of the strange things that I realized in investigating abuse is the reason that it is considered wrong. Even though we clearly have classic sources that view hitting as permissible and even a desirable way of teaching respect, submission or stopping them from sin - the word is out - no more hitting. I came across a article by Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz from 2008 where he explains why corporal punishment should not be used. I am curious to note whether anybody notices the contradiction between his sources and his conclusion? Read this citation and then read my final comment. Don't read this as a criticism of Rabbi Horowitz because I think he reflects current thinking and I agree with him.


Update: this is the old time religion - Michtav M’Eliyahu (3:361): My nephew told me that he saw in a sefer that even if the child obeys his parents it is still proper to find an excuse in order to hit him at least a small amount. … the Ibn Ezra (Shemos 20:14) has written that it is not relevant to talk about the love of a peasant to the king’s daughter. Also when the king punishes the peasant with a beating the peasant never thinks about taking revenge against the king and the only lesson he learns from being punished is to be more submissive. That is because it is obvious that he is totally subordinate to the king and the king has the right to punish - but not him. Similar when it is ingrained in a child’s heart the idea that the father is the ruler and total master over him and that he is subservient to his father then because of this subservience he will never learn to hit others just because his father hits him. However our education has become corrupted because the teachers now think that they need to be friends of their students and parents also think this and everything centers on the independence of the children. Because of this, when a father beats his son, the son will retaliate and hit his father or his small brothers… However the secular researchers in their search for new understanding and their desire to destroy the principle of education which were known even by non‑Jews and whose source is in G‑d’s Torah and Prophets - produce things which bring about a reversal of all these basic principles. They are educating future Nazis and brazen people. From this we see to what degree it is necessary to be careful with all aspects of innovation of the secular researchers concerning psychology and education and it is necessary to evaluate and ascertain whether their approach contradicts the words of Chazal and the Rishonim or Jewish practice which itself is Torah. If contradictions are found it is necessary to reject complete all their filthy innovations and not accept anything from them without first examining it with sharp examination and to evaluate it in the light of Torah and Chazal and the words of the gedolim of the Rishonim and Achronim.

Rambam (Hilchos Talmud Torah 2:2): A child is enrolled in school at that age of 6 or 7 depending upon his level of understanding and physical strength. He should not be placed in school if he is younger than 6. The teacher should hit him in order to create proper awe and fear of the teacher. However the teacher should not hit them with angry violent blows. Consequently he should not hit them with a whip or a rod but rather with a small strap…

Makkos(8a): Although the son is already taught [replied Raba], it is still obligatory on the father to chasten, because it is written, Correct thy son and he will give thee rest, yea he will give delight to thy soul.
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Rabbi Horowitz wrote in an article called Spare the "Potch" - Protect the Child
[...] For the record, there are other quotes from our chazal (sages) that support potching children, and many contemporary poskim concur with that approach. But our great rebbi, Rav Avrohom Pam, z’tl would often comment that this is an instance of “Halacha v’ain morin cain" – [even though] halacha may support potching, we do not ‘paskin’ or apply this method nowadays. Our rebbi explained, that due to the enhanced sense of personal freedom and individual rights nowadays (and this was a generation ago), hitting children is unwise and counterproductive. 

Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe, z’tl as well, was known to advise parents, that if they are considering hitting their children, they should be aware that their children will ‘hit them back’ for each and every potch when they grow older, by rebelling against their authority and teachings. (See Peleh Yoetz – under ‘Hakoah’.)

There is a timeless Ritva commenting on the gemara (Moed Koton 17a; see Shulchan Aruch Yoreh De’ah 240:19-20) which says that it is forbidden to hit a grown child, since it violates the prohibition of lifnei iveir lo setain michshol (causing another individual to sin), as is entirely possible that the adult child will sin, by striking or cursing his father in response to being hit. 

More than 650 years ago, the Ritva (1250-1330) noted that the gemara prohibits hitting a grown child [only] since it is more likely that an adult would strike back. However, he says, that if even a young child (yeled) is of the temperament to lash out verbally or physically when hit, the prohibition is extended to him as well. I would suggest that in our current society and culture, where corporal punishment is frowned upon and often viewed as abuse, it would stand to reason that the practice of potching children be categorically suspended across the board.
--------[notice the shift] ----
Aside from the halachic ramifications, there are quite a few reasons why I thing hitting children nowadays is wrong, counterproductive, and harmful to your children, and I may address them in a future column. But for now, please allow me to leave you with a sobering thought that may not make me popular in certain circles but needs to be said nonetheless. Here goes:

It is my strong and growing feeling that hitting your children and/or placing them in settings where they can be hit with impunity, dramatically increases the risk that they will be abused or molested.
Think about it. The very foundation of abuse prevention (See Safe and Secure , a column I wrote on this subject) is predicated on the notion that children need to be taught that they have the right to privacy and security, and no one has the right to invade that space. With that in mind; if you hit your own children or allow them to be hit by others, how can you possibly teach them that they have the sacred right to privacy and security? Isn’t it a huge invasion of their space when you hit them? Worded differently, how can you try and protect them from having other people invade their private space if you do so yourself?
I have been saying for years now that the greatest danger your children face is not the Internet, cell phones, or bad friends. It is by far and away molestation that is the #1 cause of drug abuse and kids leaving the derech(see The Monster Inside) . With that in mind, I feel that it is of paramount importance that we learn to parent and educate our children, without resorting to the corporal punishment that damages their self-esteem and makes them far more vulnerable to the ravages of abuse and molestation.

All the sources he quotes from including Rav Pam and Rav Wolbe - say that the reason that hitting is wrong is because the child will strike back. He will hit parents or teachers who try to hit him. It is a case of lifnei ivair. However in apparrent contradiction to these sources, Rabbi Horowitz says that the reason not to hit kids today is that it causes emotional damage and vulnerablity to sexual abuse. This is a critical shift because I think most  people who are aware of the nature of kids today -  assume that his position is the reason and not the view that children have so much self-esteem and chutzpah that they will hit back. As Rav Pam is quoted, "Due to the enhanced sense of personal freedom and individual rights nowadays (and this was a generation ago), hitting children is unwise and counterproductive."  

Or do you want to argue that there is no contradiction and say that because kids have high self-esteem and sense of entitlement - as indicated by their hitting back - that they are vulnerable to emotional damage that will lead to sexual abuse?

58 comments :

  1. The origins of hitting was a form of discipline, but it could very easily be a form a violence if not done correctly. e.g. a parent may just be unstable or violent and his outlet is on his children.
    However, was it even a successful strategy in ancient times? There are so many documented rebellions in the Torah and Neviim, which show clearly that even with corporal punishment there was no guarantee of success. Just look at King David's sons as an example.

    Not all hitting is the same, and thus there is no single reaction. Is the hitting violent, is it reasonable, is it the first or last resort?
    What is the feeling of the child in each case?
    It is quite possible for an array of psychological effects to occur.

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    1. Eddie wrote: "However, was it even a successful strategy in ancient times? There are so many documented rebellions in the Torah and Neviim, which show clearly that even with corporal punishment there was no guarantee of success. Just look at King David's sons as an example."

      You clearly hold that despite Dovid's use of corporal punishment his children rebelled. Please take a look at the first medrash in Shemos Rabbah in which Chazal clear reject your view. It discusses the failure of our forefathers as parents because they failed to beat their kids.

      Shemos Rabbah(1:1): ...Similarly, because David did not rebuke or chastise his son Absalom, he fell into evil ways, seeking to slay his father, sleeping with his concubines, and becoming the cause of his wandering bare-footed and weeping, and of the slaughter of many thousands and tens of thousands of Israelites, as well as of other sorrows without end. For it is written: A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son (Ps. III, 1) and is followed by:Lord, how many are mine adversaries become! (ib. 2). Depravity in a man's family is more grievous even than the war of Gog and Magogl; for whereas in reference to the war of Gog and Magog it is written: Why are the nations in an uproar’ (Ps. II, 1), in the case of Absalom it says: ’How many are mine adversaries.’ David treated Adonijah in a similar fashion, neither rebuking nor punishing him, and therefore he became depraved, as it is written: And his father had not grieved him all his life in saying: Why hast thou done so (I Kings I, 6). And he was born after Absalom (ib.). Was not Absalom the son of Maachah, and Adonijah the son of Haggith? Then why ’ And he was born after Absalom’?2 Only to show us that because Absalom had become corrupt on account of his father's failure to chastise him, while in the case of Adonijah we are told: ’And his father had not grieved him all his life,’ therefore he also became corrupt. On this account does it say: ’And he was born after Absalom.’3

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    2. שמות רבה (וילנא) פרשת שמות פרשה א

      א ואלה שמות בני ישראל הבאים מצרימה את יעקב איש וביתו באו, הה"ד (משלי יג) חושך שבטו שונא בנו ואוהבו שחרו מוסר, בנוהג שבעולם אדם שאומר לו חבירו פלוני הכה לבנך יורד עמו עד לחייו, ומה ת"ל חושך שבטו שונא בנו ללמדך שכל המונע בנו מן המרדות סוף בא לתרבות רעה ושונאהו, שכן מצינו בישמעאל שהיו לו געגועים על אברהם אביו ולא רידהו ויצא לתרבות רעה ושנאהו והוציאו מביתו ריקם, מה עשה ישמעאל כשהיה בן ט"ו שנה התחיל להביא צלם מן השוק והיה מצחק בו ועובדו כמו שראה מאחרים, מיד (בראשית כא) ותרא שרה את בן הגר המצרית אשר ילדה לאברהם מצחק וגו', ואין מצחק אלא עבודת כוכבים כד"א (שמות לב) ויקומו לצחק, מיד (בראשית כא) ותאמר לאברהם גרש האמה הזאת ואת בנה שמא ילמד בני אורחותיו, מיד (שם /בראשית כ"א/) וירע הדבר מאד בעיני אברהם וגו' על שיצא לתרבות רעה (שם /בראשית כ"א/) ויאמר אלהים אל אברהם אל ירע בעיניך וגו', מכאן אתה למד שהיה אברהם טפל לשרה בנביאות, מיד (שם /בראשית כ"א/) וישכם אברהם בבקר ויקח לחם וחמת מים ללמדך שהיה שונא לישמעאל על שיצא לתרבות רעה, ושלחו הוא ואמו הגר ריקם וטרדו מביתו על כך, וכי תעלה על דעתך שאברהם שכתוב בו (שם /בראשית/ יג) ואברם כבד מאד במקנה וגו', היה משלח אשתו ובנו מביתו ריקם בלא כסות ובלא מחיה, אלא ללמדך כיון שיצא לתרבות רעה לא נפנה עליו, מה היה סופו כשגרשו ישב בפרשת דרכים והיה מלסטם את הבריות, שנא' (שם /בראשית/ טז) והוא יהיה פרא אדם, כיוצא בו (שם /בראשית/ כה) ויאהב יצחק את עשו, לפיכך יצא לתרבות רעה על אשר לא רידהו, כמו ששנינו חמש עבירות עבר עשו הרשע באותו היום, בא על נערה המאורסה, והרג את הנפש, וכפר בתחיית המתים, וכפר בעיקר, ובזה את הבכורה, ועוד שתאב מיתת אביו, וביקש להרוג את אחיו, שנאמר (שם /בראשית/ כז) יקרבו ימי אבל אבי וגו', וגרם ליעקב לברוח מאבותיו, והלך אף הוא אצל ישמעאל ללמוד ממנו תרבות רעה ולהוסיף על נשיו שנאמר (שם /בראשית/ כח) וילך עשו אל ישמעאל, כיוצא בו דוד שלא ייסר לאבשלום בנו ולא רידהו יצא לתרבות רעה וביקש להרוג את אביו, ושכב עם פלגשיו, וגרם לו לילך יחף והוא בוכה, ונפלו מישראל כמה אלפים וכמה רבבות, וגרם לו דברים קשים הרבה שאין להם סוף, דכתיב (תהלים ג) מזמור לדוד בברחו מפני אבשלום בנו, מה כתיב אחריו ה' מה רבו צרי וגו', וקשה תרבות רעה בתוך ביתו של אדם ממלחמת גוג ומגוג, דאלו במלחמת גוג ומגוג כתיב (שם /תהלים/ ב) למה רגשו גוים, ולהלן כתיב ה' מה רבו צרי, וכיוצא בו עשה דוד באדוניה שלא רידהו ביסורין, ולא גער בו, ולפיכך יצא לתרבות רעה, דכתיב (מלכים א א) ולא עצבו אביו מימיו, (שם /מלכים א' א'/) ואותו ילדה אחרי אבשלום, והלא אבשלום בן מעכה ואדוניהו בן חגית, מהו ואותו ילדה אחרי אבשלום, אלא מתוך שיצא לתרבות רעה ולא רידהו אביו, וכתיב באדוניהו ולא עצבו אביו מימיו, אף הוא יצא לתרבות רעה לפיכך כתיב ואותו ילדה אחרי אבשלום,

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    3. Shemos Rabba 1:1 (continued)
      (משלי יג) ואוהבו שחרו מוסר, זה הקדוש ברוך הוא על שאהב את ישראל, דכתיב (מלאכי א) אהבתי אתכם אמר ה', שהוא מרבה אותן ביסורין, אתה מוצא שלש מתנות טובות נתן הקדוש ברוך הוא לישראל, וכלם לא נתנם להם אלא על ידי יסורין, התורה, וארץ ישראל, וחיי עוה"ב, התורה דכתיב (תהלים צד) אשרי הגבר אשר תיסרנו יה ומתורתך תלמדנו, ארץ ישראל דכתיב (דברים ח) וידעת עם לבבך וגו', מה כתיב אחריו כי ה' אלהיך מביאך וגו', העולם הבא דכתיב (משלי ו) כי נר מצוה ותורה אור וגו', וכל המייסר את בנו מוסיף הבן אהבה על אביו והוא מכבדו, שנאמר (שם /משלי/ כט) יסר בנך ויניחך וגו', ואומר (שם /משלי/ יט) יסר בנך כי יש תקוה, ומוסיף עליו אהבה, שנאמר ואוהבו שחרו מוסר, לפי ששחרו מוסר לכך אוהבו, אתה מוצא שאברהם ייסר את יצחק בנו ולמדו תורה והדריכו בדרכיו, דכתיב באברהם (בראשית כו) עקב אשר שמע אברהם בקולי, וכתיב (שם /בראשית/ כה) ואלה תולדות יצחק בן אברהם, ללמדך שהיה דומה לאביו בכל דבר, בנוי בחכמה בעושר ובמעשים טובים, תדע לך שבן שלשים ושבע שנה היה כשעקדו אביו, וכתיב ואברהם זקן בא בימים ועקדו וכפתו כשה ולא נמנע, לפיכך (שם /בראשית כ"ה/) ויתן אברהם את כל אשר לו ליצחק, הוי ואוהבו שחרו מוסר, כיוצא בו היה יצחק משחר מוסר ליעקב שלמדו יצחק תורה ויסרו בבית תלמודו, שנאמר (שם /בראשית כ"ה/) ויעקב איש תם וגו', ולמד מה שלמדו אביו, ואח"כ פירש מאביו ונטמן בבית עבר ללמוד תורה, לפיכך זכה לברכה וירש את הארץ, שנאמר (שם /בראשית/ לז) וישב יעקב בארץ מגורי אביו בארץ כנען, ואף יעקב אבינו ייסר את בניו ורידה אותם ולמדם דרכיו, שלא היה בהם פסולת, שכן כתיב ואלה שמות בני ישראל הבאים מצרימה וגו', השוון כלם ליעקב שכולם צדיקים כיוצא בו היו, הוי ואוהבו שחרו מוסר.

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    4. Obviously I cannot argue against Chazal on this one :)
      However, this would imply that nobody employed corporal punishment in the Torah, i.e. they were all very liberal towards their children and that is why the rebelled. Yaakov's sons, all the way down through the majority of Kings, Shoftim etc.
      And if this was the case, in actual fact - eg Yitzhak's love for esav, why then did not anyone learn from this? Yaakov, Eli, David, Hezekiah etc.?
      And can yetser hara be understood in psychological terms or is it a purely religious term?

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    5. Eddie, "However, this would imply that nobody employed corporal punishment in the Torah, i.e. they were all very liberal towards their children and that is why the rebelled."
      I don't understand your sweeping generalizing logic.
      1. The above midrash clearly states that Avraham disciplined /chastised Yitzchak and thus was fortunate and merited to see him rise to greatness.
      2. Chazal frequently emphasize the exception.

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    6. There are several points here.

      a) what factually occurred in Biblical times, and we have no knowledge of this other than what Chazal say.
      b) Whether there is a causal link between discipline and the outcome of the child eg rebelliousness.
      c) As i pointed out earlier, if there was a clear link, and error was made eg by Yitzhok on Esav, Yaakov on his sons, then why did not these get passed down to Shoftim and malachim, since they would have known this through the mesora.

      To support your side of the argument is Mishlei, which says "spare the rod, spoil the child". But most of the Tzaddikim had rebellious sons, so it is problematic whatever angle you look at it from. If they had mesora, why did they not implement it? If they didn't, then were they keeping halacha correctly? Or is there no relationship or a counter-relationship between punishment and outcome ?

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    7. Eddie, the Ramban wrote that rebellious sons of Tzaddikim is a particular manifestation of heavenly secrets.
      Of course, we have to follow that which was revealed to us by Neviim and later Chaza"l concerning specific cases and their lessens for generations.

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  2. If forbidden to hit, many will yell at their children causing emotional abuse.
    Physical wounds heal much faster and cleaner than emotional ones.
    So what has been achieved?

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    1. Betty Friedan in her Feminine Mystique makes exactly that point. She cites studies which found that the kids who are beated as punishment are healthier than those in which love is manipulated to force compliance.

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  3. It seems to me Rabbi Horowitz thinks that the halachic reasons from Rav Pam and Rav Wolbe are one reason and his thoughts are a completely different reason. However, I believe them to be one and the same. Nowadays, it seemed like children that are physically punished or verbally abused are much more likely to "rebel." By rebel I mean go off the derech, strike back at their parents, or do something against Halacha. Therefore, physically striking or verbally abusing should be considered lifnei aever.

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  4. I suppose one should not hit or abuse children because children learn by example: if the stronger adults is allowed to hit them, they might conclude that they are allowed to hit weaker children. Furthermore, hitting does not seem conducive to a relationship of trust between the adult and the child.

    I agree that education children is not easy, it is not easy to strike the right balance of love and respect. In order to establish such a relationship, one must invest in children: give them interesting activies, explain them things, avoid that they start getting bored.

    In most cases, when a teacher or parent gets into a situation where he thinks corporal punishment is necessary, that means that he made an error before, and failed to occupy children, to supervise them properly, etc... So hitting is really the easy way out to cover up for the adult's mistake.

    Fear is not a proper emotion for learning (I think this has been proven by neuro-psychology). Therefore it is counterproductive to give petch as an incentive to learn. Ultimately it ends in a vicious cycle, where the "dosis" (of hitting) has to be increased constantly in order to obtain the same results.

    I think hitting children is culture-technique that was once invented. It does not come "naturally". If it was us who brought it into the world, (in the tanach), we gave the world a poisoned gift.

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    1. "I suppose one should not hit or abuse children because children learn by example: if the stronger adults is allowed to hit them, they might conclude that they are allowed to hit weaker children."

      And if you ground them they learn they can confine other children against their will, and if you take away their toys they learn they can take other children's toys, etc. etc etc.

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  5. Rav Wolbe sees yeridos hadoros in the children, but far more relevant is the yeridah of the parents. A lesson in a blow is only as effective as the hand wielding it is BOTH clear & loving. Any narcissism or self-doubt on the part of disciplinarian instills not discipline but fear, with all its attendant dysfunctions.

    In this generation, that amounts to well over 99% of parents who cannot successfully educate with corporeal punishment (myself among them). But that's no reason to impugn yechidim & prior doros as cruel or vicious. I know of one distinguished talmid chakham, for example, who is blessed with a beautiful, thriving family (k"h) and who, on principle, potches his children for exactly one exceptional transgression: lying. I admire him for this insightful philosophy and would imagine his children the nobler for it. I would also imagine that, with him so resolute & clear, the potches actually delivered in the course of his children's lifetimes to be very few.

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    1. Pf, Your distinguished tc who potches his children for lying is likely following the private advice in the famous personal letter sent by the GR"A to his wife. Context changes everything. Professionals dealing with OTD's testify that many rebels, particularly the most chronic liers' parents employed exactly this approach. Especially those out to catch their children lying so they could teach them the value of truth and merit to follow so closely in the GR"A's ways at least in this exalted manner.
      I really do hope as you imagine that his potches are very few and that his children are truely nobler for it.

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    2. On that, see the first part of my Comment. Bottom line is that hitting amplifies a msg. If behind the msg is the parent's narcissism ( = inability properly to love others, incl. their children), that gets amplified too. Hence, the "99%" caveat I made (and which I include myself).

      Behind every OTD is a dysfunctional relationship with parents.

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    3. Behind every OTD is a dysfunctional relationship with parents.

      question is whether the dysfunctional relationship is the cause or the result

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  6. Way back when, corporal punishment did not have the same psychological harm attached as it was considered acceptible. But that was only when there was a sense of fairness attached to it.

    My father told me that when he went to TVD (this is more than 70 years ago) there was a Rebbe he had who was notorious for hitting the students. In general, this was accepted. My father had a boy in his class who was small and smart and never made trouble - the model student. He was the only kid in class to not get hit that whole year. On the last day of school that year, his "rebbe" went over to the boy in the classroom and gave him a back of the hand slap across his face, with a comment something like "just because".

    Obviously, the undeserving victim cried and all, but what is worse, every boy in the class suddenly realized that all the abuse they had endured the whole year was not discipline, but was simply sadistic abuse from a madman. In one moment, the entire year's Torah was deleted for an entire classroom.

    My father's potches he didn't remember. But this poor kid's pain and humiliation was seared into his memory forever.

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    1. I disagree with your understanding of the rebbe - if you look at Makkos 8 you will see that he was following the halacha!

      Makkos (8a) Although the son is already taught [replied Raba], it is still obligatory on the father to chasten, because it is written, Correct thy son and he will give thee rest, yea he will give delight to thy soul.

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    2. you understand this is meaning that people should hit children even if they did no wrong? Interesting approach to education.

      actually there is book, "l'enfant" by Jules Valles, where a mother spanks her son every day, whether he did something or not. I think it is not necessary to tell you that the child did not really like it, nor his mother....

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    3. It is not an understanding - that is what it says. I heard this for the first time from Rabbi Friefeld when I made some comment about kids getting hit when they didn't deserve it. He noted that in fact is what this gemora is saying.

      Put another way. Rav Dessler points out that the hitting is not simply to punish sins but to teach submission. If a child feels that they can control the rebbe by being a tzadik - that is not submission.

      There was a cartoon in the New Yorker many years ago. Two rats are talking to each other in a psychology lab. "Have I got this guy trained. Every time I turn right he gives me a reward."

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    4. DT,
      Do you unerstand the Makkos as instructing to employ corporal punishment 'just because' with no justificaton the child should take to heart? Do you feel that this will inspire the child to behave in a model manner? How does this correlate with the revulsion of the witness and the whole class?

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    5. R’ Dessler (Michtav M’Eliyahu 3:361): My nephew told me that he saw in a sefer that even if the child obeys his parents it is still proper to find an excuse in order to hit him at least a small amount. … the Ibn Ezra (Shemos 20:14) has written that it is not relevant to talk about the love of a peasant to the king’s daughter. Also when the king punishes the peasant with a beating the peasant never thinks about taking revenge against the king and the only lesson he learns from being punished is to be more submissive. That is because it is obvious that he is totally subordinate to the king and the king has the right to punish - but not him. Similar when it is ingrained in a child’s heart the idea that the father is the ruler and total master over him and that he is subservient to his father then because of this subservience he will never learn to hit others just because his father hits him. However our education has become corrupted because the teachers now think that they need to be friends of their students and parents also think this and everything centers on the independence of the children. Because of this, when a father beats his son, the son will retaliate and hit his father or his small brothers… However the secular researchers in their search for new understanding and their desire to destroy the principle of education which were known even by non Jews and whose source is in G d’s Torah and Prophets - produce things which bring about a reversal of all these basic principles. They are educating future Nazis and brazen people. From this we see to what degree it is necessary to be careful with all aspects of innovation of the secular researchers concerning psychology and education and it is necessary to evaluate and ascertain whether their approach contradicts the words of Chazal and the Rishonim or Jewish practice which itself is Torah. If contradictions are found it is necessary to reject complete all their filthy innovations and not accept anything from them without first examining it with sharp examination and to evaluate it in the light of Torah and Chazal and the words of the gedolim of the Rishonim and Achronim.

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    6. DT,
      Bottom line: Why/do you still understand Makkos to condone/laud the behavior of the TVD teacher who hit and humiliated the well-behaved child 'just because' in such a manner as to undermine and undo an entire year's discipline for an entire class?

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    7. you are I are not reading the same thing. I never said that it was praiseworthy to undermine and undo an entire year's discpline for the entire class.

      this is the original item
      My father told me that when he went to TVD (this is more than 70 years ago) there was a Rebbe he had who was notorious for hitting the students. In general, this was accepted. My father had a boy in his class who was small and smart and never made trouble - the model student. He was the only kid in class to not get hit that whole year. On the last day of school that year, his "rebbe" went over to the boy in the classroom and gave him a back of the hand slap across his face, with a comment something like "just because".
      ==================
      The student felt that he was in control of the situation because he knew how to behave - that is not subordination to a teacher. Fear of a teacher doesn't come simply because he punishes you when you are bad - it comes from the fact that he is the boss.

      My son's rebbe once told me that the hardest thing he had to teach was that the world isn't fair. The lesson of classical chinuch is authority is authority because it is authority.

      Teachers tell me that today whenever a student thinks the teacher is unfair they call their parents and the principal calls the teacher into his office to justify why she is picking on the picking unfairly on the student. Is it surprising that students don't respect their teachers?

      If a parent/teacher/G-d needs to justify every decision to his child/student/people - does that promote his authority? A teacher, parent etc is not a friend.

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    8. I don't think "authority is authority is authority" is a worthwhile lesson to learn. It is not true either. A teacher & parent has to earn respect and authority and love.

      He could instill "fear is fear is fear", but that does not lead to true respect, even if it might look the same on the outside.

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    9. "Rav Dessler points out that the hitting is not simply to punish sins but to teach submission."

      Rav dessler's school has quite an appalling reputation nowadays (look it up over at failed messiah or unorthodox jew, where former students report their experiences and how they feel about it)

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  7. With respect, my anecdote described the feelings of someone who was in that classroom. You can read the gemara in Makkos any way you like, but hitting a ten year old with your knuckles for no reason will never delight his soul. There are other ways to "chasten".

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    1. I was not talking about "delighting his soul" I was talking about instilling subordination as an independent goal of chinuch.

      Not everything in life has to be fun/rational/justified. That itself is an important lesson - how is a student supposed to learn that lession?

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    2. So hitting him on the last day of the year 'just because' will teach him subordination?
      Is the students now perceive the teacher as a madman, is that conveying or corrupting authority?
      Could it be that this teacher was abusing the gm in Makkos?
      The result does seem to have been universally negative as reported.
      Do you see that as halacha?

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    3. It is interesting that we have the report of an incident that happened 70 years ago that a person reported to his son.

      Isn't it possible that there were a variety of disparate reactions. Isn't it possible that the one who received the blow on the last day actually perceived it as a positive lesson?

      Bottom line - there is too much information missing information

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    4. here is the testimony of a men who grew up in pre-war Poland and went to cheder when he saw my friend's daugthers acting the parasha: "today, schools are so much better than the chadorim we went to. they teach you to love torah. We were hit a lot, it was no fun"

      Actually, spanking, even gratuitous spanking was so prevelant in the heder that there are even yiddish expressions refering to it: "gib tuches und geh warm essen" "Freitig is der tuches zeitig", as I found in a link posted in this thread...

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  8. R. Eidensohn, You are correct to point out the contradiction. I would say that while some are initially made rebellious, others are first damaged by intimidation but later there is a rebound and there is rebelliousness.

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  9. Are we talking apples and oranges here? If you are living in a society where the ruler has the power to say "off with his head" and have it done, to instill instant obedience in your children in all matters may well be lifesaving. Psychological damage is secondary. This was the situation either de jure or de facto in much of human history, and certainly the case for our ancestors until pretty recently and reflected the reality in which many of the authorities cited lived (and underlies much of our liturgy for the Yomim Noraim.) Today, when we are less subject to arbitrary acts of the rulers and the daily threat of starvation, we have the luxury of considering emotional welfare, and parental physical punishment is viewed as being acceptable only when limited to instances where a clear instant threat to a child's life may occur: stopping him or her from running out into traffic, or the like. But when parents and teachers -- or other authorities -- act as if such a threat exists when it does not is not healthy for those under the authority in question.

    That leads to the Betty Friedan quote. She is correct -- physical punishment without the manipulation of love is less abusive than the manipulation of love without physical punishment. I suspect that children who have been raised to believe that that sort of manipulation is normal may be especially vulnerable to becoming victims of sexual abuse (in which the manipulation of love is one of the deep perversions;) they have already become accustomed to being objects upon which their parents gratify themselves emotionally.

    Put another way: it is psychologically healthy and normal for children to accept the authority of parents and teachers. It is also psychologically healthy to not like the manipulation of love. Parents and teachers create a terrible dilemma for children when they put the two in conflict.

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    1. My point again is that there is no evidence there kids suffered from more emotional damage in a society were they were taught obedience then there is in the present. Furthermore the emphasis today on being ultra careful not to hurt people's feeling and giving a sense of entitlement probably makes them much fragile and susceptible to emotional harm.

      As I noted none of the rabbinical discussions of not hitting kids alludes to emotional damage. All of them refer to the danger that kids might hit back - it is an issue of livnai ivair not lo sonu or PTSD

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    2. Indeed, though absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
      Rav Eidensohn, one of the things I appreciate about this website is the deftness with which you change hats; at the moment you're wearing your psychologist one, and approaching childrearing and educational practices that promote or undermine a child's resilience from that standpoint.
      I too live in a professional world. In that world, one community tries to consider the extremely high rates of dysglycemia and its associated pathophysiologies, and to try to understand (being often faced with the clinical results) the neurological consequences of what it might mean for society that large numbers of people are in a pro-inflammatory state because of diet, lifestyle and environmental factors.
      A psychologist using mostly a cognitive-behavioral approach told me that if her anxious and obsessive patients are also dysglycemic, their progress with her is much better when their fasting blood sugar gets below 105 or so because the intensity of their symptoms drops substantially. More or less saying that her patients are more psychologically resilient when they are physically healthier.

      We have in many ways traded epidemic diseases for chronic inflammation; chronically inflamed kids are going to be less resilient and more easily undermined. This is a long winded way of saying that there is likely a lot behind the simple statement that kids are different today.

      You're presenting us with an interesting challenge: when you say "I think [Rabbi Horowitz} reflects current thinking and I agree with him" both you and he are well within the daled amot. But of course so are the authorities you cite, and that approach provided a stable modus vivendi for a long, long time. How do we formulate an approach that harmonizes both viewpoints?

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    3. "They are educating future Nazis and brazen people."

      Well, actually, one main feature of Nazis was their submission to orders of their superiors...

      This is also a valid argument against teaching blind submission...

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    4. http://www.ottmall.com/mj_ht_arch/v31/mj_v31i95.html

      here is one source regarding the results of r. Dessler's policy in favor of corporal punishment, even when a student committed no wrong...

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    5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JA5yWDUhOgg

      And this is what it might look like when a teacher actually acts according to rav dessler's advice.

      (the teacher was suspended once the video was published and got many hits, even in Egypt)

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  10. Spare the Rod - Use SparinglyApril 15, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    Rabosai:

    Discipline of any kind is NOT punishment. It is education. If a teacher presents a lesson and no one pays attention, then education did not occur. The breath, the words, and the wisdom of the lesson are wasted. Same goes for discipline. It is predicated on the outcome, the result. If it produces the result that the child learns the behavioral lesson, then it has accomplished its goal, and it was educational. If not, the consequence may be categorized as assault, or possibly the aveiro of anger on the part of the parent/mechanech.

    The Mesilas Yeshorim addresses the mitzvah of Tochacha, rebuke in Chapter 20. He states that if admonishing someone will have the opposite result, then the mitzvah is to remain silent. Check it out. The use of the potch is sanctioned by Chazal, but it is 100% conditional on the outcome. Today's mechanchim, and today's children are different from those of earlier generations. If the potch today will make a talmid rebel, then giving it is an aveiro. No stack of precious sayings of Chazal can kasher the assault. The potch that cannot produce a positive result is abuse, yes, abuse. It is ossur. Poskim have discussed this at great length. We have shelves of sforim on chinuch today, and they should be consulted to see what the poskim say about corporal punishment. While not principally (pun intended) against it, all are cautionary, demanding that it be done NOT out of anger, and only in a manner that conveys a lesson, not a punishment.

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    1. I am not saying that one hits the kid if he rebels. I am raising a different point. the rabbinical sources say that one doesn't hit a kid if he hits back - the current belief however is that hitting causes psychological damage. why don't the rabbinic sources address psychological damage and where is the proof that hitting produced damage?

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  11. I humbly submit the following Teshuva from the Chavos Yoar, which the Chofetz Chaim quotes in his Sefer on Hilchos Rechilus.

    A careful reading makes it clear that not only is a Rebbe ALLOWED to shame his student that is slacking off - but that he is OBLIGATED to do so (see how he writes that the story of Rebbe and Levi is the source for what the Rambam writes that a Rebbe is מחויב to shame his student.
    This shouldn't come as any news, because DT already quouted the Mechaber of Shulchan Aruch in Y"D that brings this Ramba'm.

    The "touchy feely" crowd that's all into sweetness fails to mention the terrible downside of allowing bad traits to fester and become engrained, thus making them extremely difficult to change (as mentioned in the Rabeinu Yonah in last weeks Pirkei Avos on the Mishna of ואם לא עכשיו אימתי.

    Here's the CVhavas Yoar:


    אודות הקפדה וכעס מרב לתלמיד: תמצית מדברי שו"ת חות יאיר ס' קנ"ב, שהביאו החפץ חיים זצקלה"ה בסוף ספרו חפץ חיים הל' רכילות:
    שאלה: נשאלתי אחר דדברי חכמים בנחת נשמעין ונאמר במשנה יהי כבוד חבירך חביב עליך כשלך איך מצינו לפעמים קנטוים וזלזולים בש"ס וכו' וכהנה רבים.
    תשובה: יפה שאלת כי ודאי אע"פ שנקראו תלמידי חכמים שבבבל חובלים במסכת בבא בתרא לא מצד הריקודים והצעקות גדולות ומרות והכאות כף אל כף כאילו נלחמים זה מול זה או מצד הקנטורים וזלזולים חלילה כי לא על סגנון זה נאמר כי ידברו את אויבים בשער שאב ובנו רב ותלמידו נעשו אויבים, רק מצד שהם מתנגדים בסברותיהן ובראיותיהן וכו'..... ומ"ש אמר לי' רבי ללוי ביבמות (ט.) כמדומה אני שאין לו מוח בקדקדו היינו שמותר לרב להוכיח לתלמידיו בדברים קשים כדי לזרזם שיעיינו וישגיחו וישמרו מן הטעות והשגיאה ולוי היה תלמיד לרבי כדאיתא סוף פרק קמא דסנהדרין וכו' ולפענ"ד נראה שמדברי רבי אלו יצא להרמב"ם מ"ש שחייב הרב לכעוס על תלמידיו אם רואה שמתרשלים הובא ביו"ד בסי' רמ"ו סי"א לכן מפני שרבי ידע בלוי שאדם גדול ומופלג הוא ולא הי' ראוי שיטעה אם לא ממיעוט עיון והשגחה לכן דיבר עליו קשות לא מכעס חלילה או מגובה רוחו והרי תניא סוף סוטה משמת רבי בטלה ענוה וכו' ובכי האי גוונא מה שקראו אמוראים לחביריהם תרדא כמו רבה לרב עמרם בב"מ ספ"ק ורחב"א לר' זירא בזבחים (פה:) וכו' ובכה"ג תדורא פרש"י אין לב שאמר רבא לרב עמרם בב"ק (ק"ה:) כולם יש לומר שהיו חביריהם וגדולים מהם ולא קפדי כלל וכו' ובכה"ג מה שהשיב ר' ינאי לר' יוחנן תלמידו מה בין לי ולך במסכת שבת (ק"מ.) אינון כדברי גאוה ורום לבב ומבזה זולתו כי מותר לרב לדבר אל תלמידו לקנטרו על מיעוט הבנתו לסיבת התרשלותו וכו' כן דברי הטרוד חיים יאיר בכרך

    Bottom line - Everything has its place and time. Those issuing a blanket prohibition on dealing harshly with Chinuch problems are leading us in the wrong direction.

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    1. שולחן ערוך (יורה דעה רמו:יא): ולא יהא התלמיד בוש מחבירו שלמד בפעם ראשונה או שניה והוא לא למד אפילו אחר כמה פעמים, שאם נתבייש מדבר זה נמצא נכנס ויוצא לבית המדרש והוא לא למד כלום, ועל כן אמרו: לא הביישן למד ולא הקפדן מלמד. בד"א, שלא הבינו התלמידים הדבר מפני עומקו, או מפני דעתן שהיא קצרה, אבל אם ניכר לרב שהם מתרשלים בדברי תורה ומתרפים עליהם ולפיכך לא הבינו, חייב לכעוס עליהם ולהכלימם בדברים כדי לחדדן, ועל זה אמרו: זרוק מרה בתלמידים. לפיכך אין ראוי לרב לנהוג קלות ראש בפני התלמידים; ולא לשחוק בפניהם; ולא לאכול ולשתות עמהם, כדי שתהא אימתו מוטלת עליהם וילמדו ממנו מהרה.

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    2. ...and in my humble opinion - those that seem to believe that today a "kinder, gentler" approach is mandated have failed to adequately answer the question of: What do you do when your students are ....

      מתרשלים בדברי תורה ומתרפים עליהם ולפיכך לא הבינו?

      Is allowing them to continue doing so indefinitely in THEIR BEST INTERESTS? Those that are convinced of the value of living a meaningful, purposeful life will passionately defend their right to instill life-saving values in their children and students...

      Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in California wrote the book, "The Purpose Driven Life," which according to abcnews has been translated into 56 languages and has sold 30 million copies, making it the bestselling hardback non-fiction book in history.

      A purpose driven life takes effort and hard word. Hard work takes commitment. Good parents and teachers care about their children and students and need to know that they have the ability to set limits, thereby offering the best "gift" they possibly could give. The fear of harshness motivates, when used properly.

      Why do so many non-Jews "get it" and so many of our brethren don't?

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  12. DT wrote about "about instilling subordination as an independent goal of chinuch".

    I must strongly disagree.

    There is NEVER a goal of teaching subordination as an independent goal - the Mechanach's (and parent's) "license" is limited to enforcing Hashem's will.

    See rabeinu Yonah on Mishlei on the pasuk חנוך לנער על פי דרכו, were he explains that since a child's intellect is not fully developed, the parents obligation is to enforce a reasoned approach to life. It is no different than not letting a child stick his hand into fire.

    The concept can also include שיקול הדעת: The Mechanach and parent may judge a certain approach as being reasoned, while the child disagrees - just as in every business the "manager" decides - so does the parent/mecahanech.

    I believe that the concept of absolute authority is foreign to Yiddishkeit, and it is the source of much evil.

    Here's the Rabeinu Yonah in Shaarei Teshuva:

    ס. ובאחיכם בני ישראל איש באחיו לא תרדה בו בפרך (ויקרא כה). לא ישתעבד אדם בחביריו. ואם אימתו עליהם או שהם בושים להחל דברו. לא יצוה אותם לעשות קטנה או גדולה. אלא לרצונם ותועלתם. ואפילו להחם צפחת מים או לצאת בשליחות אל רחוב העיר לקנות עד ככר לחם. אבל אדם שאינו נוהג כשורה מותר לצוותו לכל אשר יחפוץ:

    קסז. והשלישי כי עם הקדוש שהם עובדי השם יתברך, אין להם להכנע לבשר ודם, ואינו מן הראוי להיות מורא בשר ודם עליהם אלא לש"ש. שנאמר (שם) כי לי בני ישראל עבדים, עבדי הם ולא עבדים לעבדים. ונאמר (שמות יט) ואתם תהיו לי ממלכת כהנים וגוי קדוש. לשון כהנים אדונים ושרים. וכמוהו (ש"ב ח) ובני דוד כהנים היו. וכל העם נקראו ממלכה. מלשון (מ"א יח) אם יש גוי וממלכה. (ישעיה ס) כי הגוי והממלכה. פירושו - אתם תהיו לי ממלכה שכולה שרים שלא יהיה עליכם עול בשר ודם. ונאמר (שם נא) מי את ותיראי מאנוש ימות. ונאמר (שם) אל תיראו חרפת אנוש.


    Jews have nobody to fear besides Hashem and his Torah. But - and this is a big BUT - we fervently believe that the Torah is the source of all that's good, etc..

    Unfettered authority would negate the MITZVOH of תוכחה מתלמיד לרב, mentioned in Y"D Siman ר"מ, so it's obviously not correct.

    I believe that children that are taught that elders have no checks and balances later remain silent in the face of communal evil. See Sefer Yirmiyuhu and many other נביאים that bemoan this phenomena. See the Gemara in Shvous 39:

    {ויקרא כ-ה} ושמתי אני את פני באיש ההוא ובמשפחתו ותניא אמר ר''ש אם הוא חטא משפחתו מה חטאת לומר לך אין לך משפחה שיש בה מוכס שאין כולה מוכסין ושיש בה לסטים שאין כולה לסטים מפני שמחפין עליו התם ...

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  13. The actions of the Rebbe in YTV CAN nevertheless be understood, based on a careful reading of the Gemara in Makos 8:
    האב גולה ע''י הבן והאמרת יצא האב המכה את בנו דגמיר והאמרת אע''ג דגמיר מצוה קעביד בשוליא דנגרי שוליא דנגרי חיותא היא דלמדיה דגמיר אומנותא אחריתי:
    What the Gemara is saying - even a שוליא דנגרי teaching a trade MAY hit - but only if there is SOME purpose, and therefore once the son HAS LEARNED another trade and hitting serves NO purpose, it is prohibited.
    Hitting/scolding was used in the past - and should still be used only in the context of ensuring good effort, as the Chavos Yoar wrote, against what...
    מפני שרבי ידע בלוי שאדם גדול ומופלג הוא ולא הי' ראוי שיטעה אם לא ממיעוט עיון והשגחה לכן דיבר עליו קשות

    The Rebbe might mistakenly THINK that the student is slacking off and deal with him harshly. In such cases the STUDENT SHOULD POINT OUT THE REBBES error. The Rebbe does NOT deserve any punishment for his honest mistake.

    The aforementioned is CLEARLY STATED in Y"D 246:

    י. הרב שלימד ולא הבינו התלמידים לא יכעוס עליהם אלא שונה וחוזר הדבר כמה פעמים עד שיבינו עומק ההלכה ולא יאמר התלמיד הבנתי והוא לא הבין אלא שואל וחוזר ושואל כמה פעמים ואם יכעוס עליו רבו יאמר לו רבי תורה היא וללמוד אני צריך ודעתי קצרה:

    Notice how the Rebbe made a mistake, and the student points out the mistake? No mention of punishing the Rebbe for his honest mistake...

    And in the next Seif the Mechaber writes...
    בד"א שלא הבינו התלמידים הדבר מפני עמקו או מפני דעתן שהיא קצרה אבל אם ניכר לרב שהם מתרשלים בדברי תורה ומתרפים עליהם ולפיכך לא הבינו חייב לכעוס עליהם ולהכלימם בדברים כדי לחדדן ועל זה אמרו זרוק מרה בתלמידים לפיכך אין ראוי לרב לנהוג קלות ראש בפני התלמידים ולא לשחוק בפניהם ולא לאכול ולשתות עמהם כדי שתהא אימתו מוטלת עליהם וילמדו ממנו מהרה:

    I'd welcome well-reasoned opposing viewpoints.

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  14. Spare the Rod wrote:

    "Today's mechanchim, and today's children are different from those of earlier generations. If the potch today will make a talmid rebel, then giving it is an aveiro."

    Not so simple.

    1) The children are often TAUGHT to rebel where it never would have occurred to them to do so (yes-I'm intimately aware of such a case). Its relatively easy to simply tell them - let me know if the REASON for the potch was wrong and I'll be sorry, but accept the punishment when it was well deserved and use it as a "reminder".
    2) Make sure that if you're not "potching" your "setting limits" toolbox is brimming to the top - because doing nothing and allowing bad traits to get ingrained is WORSE.
    3) As far as predicated the potch on the outcome - all that's required is the Parent/Mechanechs "BEST EFFORT". since both inaction and overreaction both come with downsides.

    You write about all the Seforim - yep, that's true. What I wrote is in accordance with a Teshuva of Rav Wosner Shlita and what Rav Chaim Kaneivsky says - both quoted verbatim in the אוצרות של חינוך. Both are our contemporaries and cannot be explained away as being behind the times.

    Oh! so you have different Gedolim? 1) Don't force your opinion on others. 2) Properly deal with the BIGGER problem of allowing children to grow up aimlessly, without self-control and without goals, which ultimately causes a host of MAJOR problems. 3) Truth be told, the knowledge that punishment is POSSIBLE often makes it unnecessary, so all these harsh measures can be used very sparingly.

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  15. SO far there are 39 comments on this post, and I hate to be #40...

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4175905.stm

    Smacking can be illegal in UK, if it leaves any marks...

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  16. Ploni commented "Its relatively easy to simply tell them - let me know if the REASON for the potch was wrong and I'll be sorry, but accept the punishment when it was well deserved and use it as a "reminder".

    I disagree, as this is definitely against halacha. Before punishing, one must know that the punishment is deserved. All seforim on chinuch stress that. One cannot hold a rebbe to perfection any more than another human, but to preface that it might be an error, and that the apology will follow later is weirder than absurd. For reminders, one might find many ways to make an impression without battery.

    Next - "Make sure that if you're not "potching" your "setting limits" toolbox is brimming to the top - because doing nothing and allowing bad traits to get ingrained is WORSE."

    That is strange for today. One must always have toolboxes for teaching limits and boundaries. The potch often teaches that the physical space barrier can be breached. Furthermore, at the very best, it can inhibit specific behaviors or it can create an environment of fear. Neither of these is of benefit to the rebbe or talmid. The discussion about מורא רבך כמורא שמים is appropriate in that מורא does not mean fear, but awe. The potch does not accomplish that, even when it is muttar and sanctioned by halacha.

    Next - "As far as predicated the potch on the outcome - all that's required is the Parent/Mechanechs "BEST EFFORT". since both inaction and overreaction both come with downsides."

    I commend you for the note that overreaction has its downside. Actually, inaction is not as dangerous, as the absence of consequence does not constitute approval. More noteworthy is your phrase "BEST EFFORT". I hope you meant "BEST JUDGMENT". That's the real issue. The problem is not that the potch is assur. It isn't. It is a tool that needs to be used in the right place, the right time, by the right mechanech, and the right talmid. Used properly, our Chachomim spoke plenty about the merits. Outside of these criteria, it is assault, and is an aveiro. Consult what the poskim stated in the many seforim on chinuch.

    As for your personal complaints against me, I will note in brief defense that:

    I am not forcing my opinion on others. I simply quote the sforim that I use constantly.

    I seek to have children raised with values of self control and proper goals. It is way too common in today's yeshivos to have bochurim passing through the system aimlessly, with the fantasy that they can be career learners, support their family, and sponge off their parents, in-laws, government entitlement programs, and public tzedokos. Kollel is the safe haven for all this, and there is major upheaval in the Torah world that someone wants to challenge this fantasy in Israel. I want everyone to be given the tools and support to live their lives according to their G-d given potential, which includes wherever they fit on the spectrum of תורה שיש עמה מלאכה.

    Lastly, you noted that knowledge about punishment should be a deterrent. You have echoed the words of Shlomo Hamelech, as many of the baalei mussar explained the posuk of חושך שבטו שונא בנו, as not referring to a mitzvah to potch, but rather the detrrent feature of it.

    In summary, I am NOT against the potch. I recognize that it is used irresponsibly way more often that properly, and this is assur. Since it fails to accomplish its chinuch goal in these situations, it is a high risk for doing damage, and these children deserve the same protection from such assaults as from other unmentionable forms of abuse.

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  17. Spare The Rod wrote: " Before punishing, one must know that the punishment is deserved. All seforim on chinuch stress that."

    Please show how your POV meshes with the Shulchan Aruch that I quoted:
    י. ... ולא יאמר התלמיד הבנתי והוא לא הבין אלא שואל וחוזר ושואל כמה פעמים ואם יכעוס עליו רבו יאמר לו רבי תורה היא וללמוד אני צריך ודעתי קצרה:
    The Rebbe obviously was wrong for getting angry,are you implying that he needs to be sanctioned?
    The key word here is what you write that the Rebbe must "know" - I think that many dedicated Mechancim "in the trenches" would replace that with "best effort".

    Behind our disagreement, I believe lies your statement that "Actually, inaction is not as dangerous, as the absence of consequence does not constitute approval".

    The sources, I believe, disagree. See Rambam Hil. Teshuva Perek 4:
    א ארבעה ועשרים דברים מעכבין את התשובה. .. ג) הרואה בנו יוצא לתרבות רעה ואינו ממחה בידו. הואיל ובנו ברשותו אילו מיחה בו היה פורש ונמצא כמחטיאו. ובכלל עון זה כל שאפשר בידו למחות באחרים בין
    יחיד בין רבים ולא מיחה אלא יניחם בכשלונם
    Inaction is considered complicity.... Many other sources say the same (if it makes a difference to you, let me know and I'll I'll IY"H quote some).

    From this viewpoint BOTH extremes are seen as highly undesirable.

    STR writes: "One cannot hold a rebbe to perfection any more than another human, but to preface that it might be an error, and that the apology will follow later is weirder than absurd."

    You misunderstood me. I didn't mean to PREFACE, rather, that if the child complains, The Machanach can make it clear that punishment serves a valid purpose of making the transgression highly undesirable. The Mechanach can - at that point - show his lack of anger or ulterior motives, by making it clear that the punishment was based on his best judgement of the facts (no different than how any court of law adjudicates cases and vacates them in cases of error).

    STR writes: " One must always have toolboxes for teaching limits and boundaries."
    As someone who has dealt with literally HUNDREDS of Mechanchim over several decades, I can tell you that THIS is a major problem - the toolboxes are often insufficient for motivating DIFFICULT ACTIONS. The bar is continually lowered and the truly dedicated results orientated Mechanchim are the ones that lose sleep over the problem, while the less dedicated ones tend to care less...

    Don't misunderstand me - punishment is only a small component, that will never take the place of a passion for teaching, love, a solid teaching methodology and strong foundational skills. A lack of any of these is often detrimental. I think that another big problem in ALL settings is punishment not predicated on solid judgement of the child's ABILITY and SKILL LEVEL. Too often, we punish out of frustration based on where we want the child to do, without considering what he CAN do.

    STR writes: " The potch often teaches that the physical space barrier can be breached."
    Sorry - I've found no basis for that issue. And btw, though I've never witnessed one, I'm told that at music concerts, etc. the sweaty masses of humanity also breach physical space barriers.... But I guess that's considered IMPORTANT. (This isn't meant as a personal attack, but rather as an observation as to the priorities of those that decide when physical barriers may and may not be breached).

    STR wrote: " I hope you meant "BEST JUDGMENT"."
    I stand corrected. I did of course mean best judgement. My point is simply that mechanchim and parents should never be frozen by self-doubt, as inaction IS NOT an option.

    Two final notes: 1) Please stop making blanket statements like "all chinuch seforim" see it your way. I think anyone relying on Rav Wosner and Rav Kanievsky is in good company.
    2) As I've mentioned before - used judiciously, fear of punishment is usually enough to act as a boundary, so that the actual punishment isn't usually necessary.


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  18. Since popular wisdom states that any hitting out of anger is "assur" I'd like to quote Rav Chaim kanievsky (brought down in אוצרות של חינוך דף ת"ת,
    השאלות ע"י הרב יוסף ארי' לורנץ, ואמנם עבר הגרחק על כל התשובות וביקש לכתוב שאין לפסוק מהם להלכה.

    שאלה: בן שהתחצף וביזה את אביו והיה ראוי להכותו כדי לחנכו אולם האב היכה לבן משום כעסו ועלבנונו ולא נתכווין כלל וכלל למצות חנוך, האם עובר בלאו דלא יוסיף?
    תשובה: מסתבר שלא עבר על בל תוסיף
    בהערה שם:... גם אם הכהו משום כעסו מכל מקום לא נפקע ממעשהו שם הכאה דחנוך, כי סתמא דמילתא דרצונו הפנימי לחנכו.

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  19. R Dessler's comments are highly exaggerated.
    First, Nazis were in a generation of strict and authoritarian parenting.
    Next, if you look at cultures which produce very violent kids, eg in Gaza, they have traditional beatings. Same could be said in S. Africa.

    Now, it could be argued that we have a soft society that does not discipline its children, and hence the rise in youth violence. However, it is mroe likely that the cause of this is the rise of one parent families, who perpetuate poverty and violence, and have no moral values.
    Very often these kids have abusive fathers in any case.

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  20. I had a rebbe who attended Cheder in Mea Shearim in the 20s.He said the rebbe went through the roll book on the first day and called each talmid and zetzed him very hard. He added with some pride they he did not cry because he was a very tough kid but the entire class was crying. After this was finished the rebbe said "I hit you despite the fact that you didn't do anything wrong.Imagine what I will do if you misbehave."

    In high school the rebbeim where very strict and I was so afraid of my rebbe it interfered with my learning.I was eager and as an adult looking back I think it was wrong for the staff to think that you will misbehave given the chance.

    My cousin is a professor of medicine at Harvard.He said when you hit a child the child will simply learn that if you are bigger and stronger you can hit.

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  21. Merciful Heavens! Rise up and defend the children that are suffering at the hands of those who are stronger than them! There was NEVER a time when hitting was EVER permitted or okay! Anyone who loves their children/talmidim teaches them to love Torah not by hurting them! Kids aren't soft because they are 'taught to be individualistic and think for themselves!' Ahava mikalkeles es ashura- if you love someone enough, you can help them accomplish great things in life without hurting them, the same way a doctor tries to help his patient heal while minimizing his pain as much as possible! I love my children! I hug them and kiss them, and hug them some more! Their expressions tell me what they want, and I start communicationg with them, and then they verbalize back to me and articulate their needs. They show me they can start eating by themselves, so I let them eat by themselves, then they do it better. The same goes with all the skills they learn as they develop. I never once coerced my children to learn something new. I model caring behavior, and I see them helping eachother. When i see them doing something dangerous, i get scared because I love them, not angry because they are being bad! And I stop them, and they listen even though i don't hit them, because they see the terror in my eyes and realize how much they mean to me. When they make a mess on the floor, or similar behaviors, I realize that it's age appropriate, and try to find an alternative toy. When I see them start to act up like hit another kid, or grab another toy I read into their body language and see, are they tired? Are they hungry? Are they thirsty? Are they jealous? Are they just being naughty? And appropriately address each issue, giving then security that their feelings are heard. I hope that if I treat my children this way, than G-d will be benevolent with me when I sin chalila. This is always the halacha, and has always been the halacha for now and for all of the years. Maybe there is the 'letter' of the law, but it is always better to go lifnim mishuras hadin, one melech in tanach was known for doing this, and i am certain that there is more. Also don't be more makpid on 'hitting children lehalacha' than the commandment to 'love your fellow like yourself.' That just shows that you care about your own status, not G-d's commandments. If all parents had treated their sons and daughters like this throughout the ages, we would have a much kinder society today. Torah is sweet, that's why three year olds who get upsherins tradtionally lick honey from the aleph beis. Pikudei Hasem yisharim visamchei lev. Deracheha darchei noam.

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  22. Have you ever heard of verbal communications? Does any other punishment exist aside from hitting? If a child is showing blatant chutzpah to Torah, than you can bluntly tell him off. Expressions like, 'Excuse me?!' Raised eyebrows, clearing the throat, all send the message that that behavior is inappropriate. But put yourself in the kid's shoes. This is not about 'being soft' or 'modern philosophy'. Do you think that you are so special that the kid should drop everything the listen to you? And on the flip side, is your self-esteem so low that you actually think that the talmid's attitude is directed at you? Kids most likely aren't thinking that deeply about you to render such an attack, so you have to ask yourself? Why then would he do that? Is he tired? Is he hungry? Is he over worked? Is he angry/scared about something, and he knows that this would get your attention? Once you take the ego factor out of it, see if you still have such a compelling urge to 'hit him' and see if you feel so compelled 'lifi halacha'. If you don't, then your concern has more to do with your own personal kavod, not chinuch.
    I know their is this big shikcha that happens between the time that you were kids and you became rebbeim, but low and behold you were kids to.
    And the same feelings you have now you had then. (I mean feelings of hunger, thirst, fear, sadness albeit the causes may be slightly different now) So be a little understanding.

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  23. Lets do an experiment, and have you put in a conference room with 20 or more colleagues, and bring in a 12 foot giant into the room. Then we'll have you called up to the front of the classroom so he can whack you accross the face. We can do it about 5 or 10 times a month if you want. In fact, let's step up the game, and everytime you go home and tell your wife about it, she calls in another 12 foot giant to slap you, because if you got it at the meeting, you must desserve double.
    The fact that hitting causes psycological damage is not new, just people finally had the courage to speak up- ie when those hit children became adults and they no longer feared being hit!

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  24. Not hitting does not have to equall 'not disciplining', and that is a big misnomer. Mechanchim and parents around the world have come up with much more effective ways to discipline their children and pupils without hitting. And those that are properly disciplined grow up respectful. &

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  25. That means that Rebbe has to make sure that the child is desserving of punishment. If the child is not desserving of punishment, it is the Rebbe's achrius not to hit him.

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