Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Shevus Yaakov: Teacher beats student from anger at his inattention - must he pay damages?

 Shevus Yaakov (3:140): Question: A teacher became angry at his student and he strongly beat him because of the student was not paying attention to his learning. Is the teacher required to pay for the 4 types of damages he inflicted or is he exempt? Answer: It would seem obvious that the teacher is exempt from having to pay any compensation. We see in the gemora Makkos that a father who kills his son unintentionally or a teacher who kills a student unintentionally or a messenger of beis din - are not punished with exile. This gemora explicity states that the exemption is because they are exempt because the unintended killing took place while they were involved in a mitzva. There is no basis of saying that one can't generalize from the exemption from exile to an exemption of the 4 types of damages - because it is a statute of the Torah.  Don't argue that you can't reason  that if they are exempt from capital punishment and exile then surely they are exempt from the 4 types of payment because we find in a number of places in the gemora that even though a person is exempt from exile he is obligated to pay. That is because this case is different since the gemora which provides an exemption is only when they were involved in doing a mitza as we see in Makkos (8a-b).Therefore that is the reason we should exempt the teacher from payment since he was involved in a mitzva as we see when a person is running erev Shabbos and causes damage since he was involved in a mitzva. So surely in the case of the teacher. Furthermore the gemora compares the three cases with each other and the messenger of the court is exempt even if he damages someone as we see in Choshen Mishpat in the Beis Yosef at the end of simon 8 and is brought in the Rema in Shulchan Aruch without any dissent...A teacher who is discipline a student because of this studies is exempt from all payments of damage. This is stated explicitly in the Termas HaDeshen (#218) that it is not only a person allowed to hit his son or his student but everyone person is allowed to hit anyone under his control if there is justification for hitting him to stop him from sinning. Furthermore he says there is no need to bring the sinner to beis din before hitting him. He learns this out from Bava Kama (28) he a freed slave can be beaten by his former master because he doesn't want to leave the woman he was given as a slave who is not prohibited to him. So if it is permitted to beat another person for this reason then surely it is permitted because the student is wasting time from Torah study. So even though the halacha is that a teacher can only hit a student with a small strap which doesn't cause serious harm - nevertheless bedieved the teacher should not be punished because he didn't comply with that condition. 
Don't think that I am not fully aware of what the Ranach (1:111) wrote concerning an agent of beis din who hit someone out of anger and he was required to pay. The case of a teacher is different since the gemora in Taanis (4a) says that a talmid chachom becomes angry because of the Torah. In particular it causes him greater anguish when he learns with a student who doesn't pay attention to his studies. Therefore the teacher should be exempt from all payment. However in order that the teacher should not become accustomed to beating his student because it is not nice for a talmid chachom to become enraged or to lack patience - for the sake of improving the situation (migder milsa) and to make sure he doesn't violate the halacha of not hitting with more than a small strap - I rule that he must pay for the docotr to cure the student...
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update 4/18/13 Aruch HaShulchan (C.M. 424:17): There are those who say that a teacher who beats his students is exempt from paying for the damage done by the beating if it was done for the sake of teaching. A proof for this is that our Sages say that a person is exempt from exile when he kills unintentionally [Makkos 8a] while doing a mitza... such as a father who hits his son and a teacher who disciplines his student and an agent of beis din. According to this the case where the father is obligated to pay for beating his son or daughter is only when it is done without any intent for educating them - however if it is done for the welfare of the child then the father is exempt from payment. However there are those who disagree because a person is not allowed to give blows that cause bruises. This that the Torah exempts from exile in Makkos 8a is a statute of the Torah and it appears that the person died because of Heavenly Decree.  Since it is a dispute in the poskim the actual ruling depends on the details of each case according to the understanding of beis din.


פתחי תשובה חושן משפט סימן תכד:ד

(החובל בבניו כו' - עיין בתשובת שבות יעקב ח"ג סימן ק"מ אודות מלמד שכעס על תלמידו והכה אותו בשביל לימודו עד שחבל בו, אם חייב בד' דברים או פטור. והשיב, נראה פשוט דפטור מכולם כדאיתא במסכת מכות [ח' ע"א] מה חטיבת עצים רשות יצא האב המכה את בנו והרב הרודה את תלמידו ושליח ב"ד, ואין לומר דהיינו דפטור מגלות מגזה"כ אבל חייב בד' דברים, זה אינו, דהא מבואר שם בגמרא דאילו פטורים משום דמצוה קעביד, א"כ מה"ט יש לפטור מכולם כדאמרינן גבי רץ בערב שבת בין השמשות [ב"ק ל"ב ע"א]. ועוד, דהא הני תלתא מדמה הש"ס להדדי, ובשליח ב"ד פטור אפילו אם הזיקו כמבואר בב"י סוף סימן ח' ובהגהת שו"ע שם בלי חולק כו', וכן מבואר בתרומת הדשן סי' רי"ח [הובא לעיל סימן תכ"א סעיף י"ג בהגה] דלאו דוקא בנו ותלמידו אלא אפילו לכל אדם שכפוף תחת ידו ראוי להכותו להפרישו מן העבירה כו', וכ"ש בשביל ביטול תורה, אף על גב דקיי"ל דיש להכותו בערקתא דמסאני ולא באכזריות [כדאיתא בשו"ע יו"ד סימן רמ"ה סעיף י'], מ"מ דיעבד אין לקנסו בשביל כך. ואף דבתשובת הראנ"ח ח"א סי' קי"א כתב דבשליח ב"ד שהכה מפני כעס וחימה חייב [הביאו הכנה"ג לעיל סימן ח' [הגב"י סק"ג]], מ"מ בת"ח דאורייתא מרתחא ליה, בפרט שהוא צער גדול כשלומד עם התלמיד ואינו משים לב על לימודו, יש לפוטרו מכל, אבל מ"מ כדי שלא יהא רגיל לעשות כן ולמיגדר מילתא פסקתי שישלם שכר הרופא, עכ"ד ע"ש. ולדבריו צ"ל דאלו הדינים שבסעיף זה בחובל בבניו מיירי שלא הכהו ליסרו, אולם בתשובת קרית חנה סי' כ"ב לא כתב כן [הבאתיו בקצרה בפ"ת ליו"ד סימן רמ"ה שם [סק"ד]], אלא דהכא מיירי אפילו במכהו ליסרו, ומה דאמרו יצא האב המכה את בנו כו' הוא רק דפטור מגלות, משא"כ לענין ד' דברים דאיתרבו שוגג כמזיד כו', והאריך בזה ע"ש וצ"ע:

15 comments :

  1. That's quite shocking... What if the student suffers a permanent handicap, like hearing loss due to a slap on the ears, or paralysis because a nerve was severed in the back when spanking, or kidney damage?

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  2. Hi Rabbi Eidenson, I hope you are well.

    I think you meant to write, "In order that the teacher should NOT become accustomeD to beating his students because it is NOT nice for a talmid chacham to become enraged or to lack patience..."

    Rabbi Eidenson, some things should not be translated into English.

    Rav Wolbe z"l held that in our generation all corporal punishment is forbidden in schools, and his parameters for corporal punishment at home make it forbidden as well. I heard this from more than one of his close talmidim.

    (By the way, why not translate the Shevus Yaakov's view on the shape of our planet?)

    Nachum Klafter
    Cincinnati OH

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    1. Thank you for the proof reading.

      You raise an interesting point. I gather that you feel that any apparent mistakes or even change in minhag or halachic psak should be concealed from the masses? Why?

      The issue that I am trying to clarify is why has the attitude towards abuse and corporal punishment has changed so drastically in the last 30 years?

      You cite Rav Wolbe - but his position was that no corporal punishment should be given because even a three year old will hit back. He apparently was not concerned with emotional damage to the child from being beated in shamed in class. Why not?

      In fact I dont have any rabbinical sources that object to beatings or emotional abuse because it causes emotional damage. Do you?

      The issue of science is a topic I hope to bring up in the future. Right now however emotional abuse is my focus.

      In sum, I am following what I heard from Rav Eliashiv. No problem of citing main stream sources - even if it arouses serious questions. In short this is Torah and we don't have to conceal it. A person who is bothered by learning the discussion in main streatm sources should discuss the question with his rabbi.

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    2. Dr.Klafter you should look at the Aruch HaShulchan I just added to the post. He clearly holds that the Shevus Yaakov is a valid halachic view today and contrasts with the view of the Kiryat Chana (#22). Both are cited in the Pischei Tshuva (C.M. 424:4) and he ends with tzorech iyun

      פתחי תשובה חושן משפט סימן תכד

      (ד) החובל בבניו כו' - עיין בתשובת שבות יעקב ח"ג סימן ק"מ אודות מלמד שכעס על תלמידו והכה אותו בשביל לימודו עד שחבל בו, אם חייב בד' דברים או פטור. והשיב, נראה פשוט דפטור מכולם כדאיתא במסכת מכות [ח' ע"א] מה חטיבת עצים רשות יצא האב המכה את בנו והרב הרודה את תלמידו ושליח ב"ד, ואין לומר דהיינו דפטור מגלות מגזה"כ אבל חייב בד' דברים, זה אינו, דהא מבואר שם בגמרא דאילו פטורים משום דמצוה קעביד, א"כ מה"ט יש לפטור מכולם כדאמרינן גבי רץ בערב שבת בין השמשות [ב"ק ל"ב ע"א]. ועוד, דהא הני תלתא מדמה הש"ס להדדי, ובשליח ב"ד פטור אפילו אם הזיקו כמבואר בב"י סוף סימן ח' ובהגהת שו"ע שם בלי חולק כו', וכן מבואר בתרומת הדשן סי' רי"ח [הובא לעיל סימן תכ"א סעיף י"ג בהגה] דלאו דוקא בנו ותלמידו אלא אפילו לכל אדם שכפוף תחת ידו ראוי להכותו להפרישו מן העבירה כו', וכ"ש בשביל ביטול תורה, אף על גב דקיי"ל דיש להכותו בערקתא דמסאני ולא באכזריות [כדאיתא בשו"ע יו"ד סימן רמ"ה סעיף י'], מ"מ דיעבד אין לקנסו בשביל כך. ואף דבתשובת הראנ"ח ח"א סי' קי"א כתב דבשליח ב"ד שהכה מפני כעס וחימה חייב [הביאו הכנה"ג לעיל סימן ח' [הגב"י סק"ג]], מ"מ בת"ח דאורייתא מרתחא ליה, בפרט שהוא צער גדול כשלומד עם התלמיד ואינו משים לב על לימודו, יש לפוטרו מכל, אבל מ"מ כדי שלא יהא רגיל לעשות כן ולמיגדר מילתא פסקתי שישלם שכר הרופא, עכ"ד ע"ש. ולדבריו צ"ל דאלו הדינים שבסעיף זה בחובל בבניו מיירי שלא הכהו ליסרו,
      אולם בתשובת קרית חנה סי' כ"ב לא כתב כן [הבאתיו בקצרה בפ"ת ליו"ד סימן רמ"ה שם [סק"ד]], אלא דהכא מיירי אפילו במכהו ליסרו, ומה דאמרו יצא האב המכה את בנו כו' הוא רק דפטור מגלות, משא"כ לענין ד' דברים דאיתרבו שוגג כמזיד כו', והאריך בזה ע"ש וצ"ע:

      Delete
  3. May I reference the Ramban (Toras Ho'odom) on the sugya in Bava Kama 85b, where he notes that the physician who erred and caused damage is not liable is the one who is expert, by virtue of education and training. Perhaps the same yardstick is applicable in the case of a rebbe/teacher. If the damage occurs incidental to appropriate discipline, then exemption from liability may be appropriate. But the untrained rebbe/teacher who loses themselves and inflicts damage in pursuit of their personal expressions of anger (that the discipline was really not discipline but personal revenge) then the entire sugya of personal injury is relevant.

    This may sound bizarre - Suppose a rebbe sexually molested a child to teach something about halachos ofd sexuality. Would this rebbe be exempt from liability?

    My position is that one would need to verify that the behavior involved was actually educational, but that there was something unfortunate (shogeg) that occurred as an unintended result. I have trouble believing that the incompetent rebbe that damages a talmid is pottur.

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    1. I think you can make a strong case that the rebbe that hits is in fact an incompetent rebbe and therefore according to you should have to pay. There are such teshuvos and I hope to post them in the near future.

      Regarding your other point - you are right it does sound bizarre and still can't understand why you view it as a valid question.

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  4. Frodo - your statement appears to be emotional and does not actually deal with the issue from a Halachic perspective.

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  5. please be aware of the sickening nature of the RCA:

    http://www.rabbis.org/Yomiyun.cfm

    eis la'asos laHashem the RCA haifiru torosecho

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  6. This would be no different than any other Machlokos Le'Halacho - Everyone follows their Posek.

    i've already mentioned elsewhere that Rav Wosner and Rav Chaim Kanievsky are among those that permit corporal punishment. Rav kanievsky says that even when done out of anger - while surely not proper - מסברא their is no trangression of פן יוסיף.

    Honestly - it's most useful when the child / student knows that it COULD happen, but when in practice used very infrequently.

    BTW, here in the USA, different states have different laws - In NY parents ARE allowed to hit.

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    1. in NYS, not only parents, but schools, private and public. (though many, such as NYC bd of Ed, forbid it. but its not a criminal act. and most yeshivot do not allow it by teachers. i guess all they can do is fire the teacher (ha ha) and report to future schools (double ha ha))

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  7. Perhaps relevent to this discussion is the issue of "Reactance".

    defintion from wikipedia: Reactance is a motivational reaction to offers, persons, rules, or regulations that threaten or eliminate specific behavioral freedoms. Reactance occurs when a person feels that someone or something is taking away his or her choices or limiting the range of alternatives.

    Reactance can occur when someone is heavily pressured to accept a certain view or attitude. Reactance can cause the
    person to adopt or strengthen a view or attitude that is contrary to what was intended, and also increases resistance to
    persuasion. People using reverse psychology are playing on at least an informal awareness of reactance, attempting
    to influence someone to choose the opposite of what they request.

    Here's an interesting study about reactance, perhaps DT would like to find and post the full text version:

    Study:

    Psychol Sci. 2012 Feb;23(2):205-9. doi: 10.1177/0956797611429468. Epub 2012 Jan 12.
    Reactance versus rationalization: divergent responses to policies that constrain freedom.
    Laurin K, Kay AC, Fitzsimons GJ.
    Source
    University of Waterloo.
    Abstract
    How do people respond to government policies and work environments that place restrictions on their personal freedoms? The psychological literature offers two contradictory answers to this question. Here, we attempt to resolve this apparent discrepancy. Specifically, we identify the absoluteness of a restriction as one factor that determines how people respond to it. Across two studies, participants responded to absolute restrictions (i.e., restrictions that were sure to come into effect) with rationalization: They viewed the restrictions more favorably, and valued the restricted freedoms less, compared with control participants. Participants responded in the opposite way to identical restrictions that were described as nonabsolute (i.e., as having a small chance of not coming into effect): In this case, participants displayed reactance, viewing the restrictions less favorably, and valuing the restricted freedoms more, compared with control participants. We end by discussing future research directions.
    PMID: 22241813 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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    1. very interesting study. Found a link to the pdf - but it is clearly not for posting on my blog

      https://faculty.fuqua.duke.edu/~ack23/Publications%20PDFs/Reactance%20vs%20Rationalization%20Psych%20Sci.pdf

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  8. So this study's findings can be summed up as saying that children don't resent to "absolute" restrictions - where they know that they have absolutely NO choice, but they DO resent "nonabsolute " restrictions that have a chance of not coming into effect.

    think this explains why.....

    #1) As DT pointed out, there is no evidence in Chazal that putting recalcitrant children "in their place" where due cause exists (whether through corporal punishment or scolding) - causes any lasting damage. Chazal meant consistent "absolute" restrictions, that are meted out fairly. The child rationalizes instead of resenting. There is no emotional damage done.

    #2) Since inaction in disciplining children and procrastination often have negative repercussions (se Rebeinu Yona on Mishna of ואם לא עכשיו אימתי, among other Reshonim), this is the ONLY option in cases that more gentle methods fail to bring about changes in behavior.

    The end result is a well adjusted child that forms good habits...

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    1. Ploni could you expand this into a guest post?

      You might want to toss in Stockholm Syndrome also

      Delete
  9. ... bl"n, if I find time to organize my thoughts..

    ReplyDelete

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