Should Parents Intimidate Their Kids?

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    The only time it ever makes sense to hit a kid is where you can’t lead by example. From a child’s perspective, he is doing nothing wrong by running into the street, turning on the stove or picking up a knife. You do all those things too. That is why an exception is made where you can hit the child to keep him safe. If the child learns from the example of hitting, that is an undesired side effect, but when he is old enough to understand the safety concern, he won’t think it means that it’s always okay to hit people, but he will know that it is generally okay to hit people in order to keep them safe from greater dangers.


    yes it explains your push back

    It’s not about Halacha, it’s about your understanding/presentation of it.
    actually is it about halacha though
    i have presented clear sources. the latest and clearest imho being the gemorah in makkos i posted today
    i have yet to hear a logical reasoned response as to how you and many others understand that gemorah.

    positing that i am off base/dont understand/misrepresenting.,.. are not responses. they are smoke screens.
    there is a clear gemorah with no cholkim that i can find stating that it is a required part of chinuch for a father to hit a child even when he does nothing wrong(i dont know the parameters of when )
    and posters here stating that hitting when a child does something wrong such as chilul shabbos is not chinuch
    either the gemorah is wrong or the posters are wrong, or someone explain the gemorah to me


    im duly chastened r”y23


    if you are serious then please explain the gemorah in makkos to me


    If you are serious, here’s an explanation:
    The Gemara in makos is discussing involuntary manslaughter cases, where a death is caused completely without malice, intent, or recklessness. The Mishna there is ONLY discussing the difference between criminal negligence, in which case the person is liable to exile, and accidental death, in which case person is exempt from criminal liability. In the scenario with the father, the act of hitting is not intended in any way to cause severe physical injury, nor is done with disregard for the child’s safety, and ONLY done for valid chinuch purposes (which would be evaluated in court). An example might be nudging a child into a pool of water to teach him to swim (a mitzva of chinuch), but then the child trips and hits his head on a stone and dies. With another person, the father would be forced into exile. With his son, if he can prove that he pushed him for the mitzva of chinuch, and that the force was not excessive or dangerous to the child, it will be a valid defense against liability. It’s a pity prize, though — the father lives on knowing he killed his son.

    The defense is clearly rebuttable. If the father cannot prove he was engaged in a reasonable means of education, that could reasonably be expected to achieve the goals of education, then the next Mishna states that obviously the father is liable. If the father intended to cause serious injury, or acted with reckless forcefulness, he would be liable for murder. There is no absolute defense.

    Thus, Rava’s classifying hitting a child for chinuch as a mitzva is ONLY brought as a rebuttable defense for a well-meaning but slightly negligent father. In this context, there’s no reason to interpret this as a mandatory approach to chinuch in general, but rather just adequate to be considered a “mitzva”, and thus a defense to manslaughter. But the father still acted negligently, otherwise he wouldn’t need the defense at all (it would be accidental death).

    (This is the only way to understand Rava’s statement: Abba Shaul in the mishna had stated that performance of a mitzva is a defense to involuntary manslaughter. He says chopping wood is not ever a mitzva, and therefore if the ax head falls off and kills a bystander, the chopper is always liable to exile. Rava explains this, saying that even if the wood would be used for a mitzva, chopping itself is only a hechsher mitzva. This is because if you already have wood chopped, chopping more is not a mitzva; so if you don’t have, chopping wood is still not a mitzva. Ravina challenges Rava’s logic, saying that if applied to chinuch, if a son could learn without being hit, then hitting is never a mitzva. Rava finally brings the passuk to show that hitting could always be considered a mitzva IF the parent can show if was for the sake of education, even if there’s another way to educate. Again, in context, this is hardly an exhortation of parents to hit their children.)

    Many other gemaras are consistent with this view that harsh chinuch measures are not permissible. The definition of “harsh” and “chinuch measures” will naturally adapt to what is normal in a particular society at a given time. That’s because the “foreseeability” of the harm will change depending on what a child’s normal reaction might be, which is heavily cultural.

    In most countries today, children have certain rights under international, federal and state law that they have never had before. Any stranger can call child protective services on a rough parent or teacher, and every child knows this. This naturally influences what is perceived as “harsh” or acceptable.

    Furthermore, developments in the fields of education and psychology have also changed our perception of chinuch and harshness. It’s not made-up sensitivities — it’s scientific knowledge that we did not have access to generations ago, much like the polio vaccine. Chochma bagoyim taamin. There’s no contradiction with Torah here.

    Most radically changed is the structure of the family, going from closed and conformist, to individualistic and autonomous. A child has access to ideas, resources, and networks that were unfathomable to adults even a few years ago. If he doesn’t feel safe or understood at home, he has many, many options open to him. Therefore harsh chinuch no longer works in most cases. Even the Gemara and rishonim cautioned against pushing a child too far in the name of chinuch — today the boundary of “too far” is just much, much closer. One of many examples:

    יורה דעה קמ:כ
    אסור לאדם להכביד עולו על בניו
    ולדקדק בכבודו עמהם שלא יביאם לידי מכשול אלא ימחול ויעלים עיניו מהם שהאב שמחל על כבודו כבודו מחול.

    Consequently, in 2019, if you take a physical approach with the son in the hypothetical case, minyan attendance will be the least of your problems when he’s 14. What’s more likely is that he’ll continue to defy his parents, only he’ll hide it better and the material will become increasingly scandalous — and he’ll have access to internet. You’ll be “teaching” this already tight-lipped child to become savvy at hiding many worse things from his parents.


    However a few points
    Firstly, as I pointed out, if the hit was not hard enough to make sense that it killed him, everyone would be patur. So we are talking about a full fledged hit
    Secondly In the context of teaching a career or swimming as the case may be, you are correct
    However the first Mishna is talking about learning that’s why the father and Rebbe are together.
    Over there it’s always patur .
    As to the rest of your post, sure I said many times that I’m today’s day the common consensus is not to hit, I was just laying out the Torah starting point. Which even you go your post agreed that for valid chinuch reasons, the Torah allowed hitting.
    If hitting was not a chinuch method it would never be allowed


    And the passuk in mishlay that the gemorah brought is pretty pro hitting not just in a few scattered out instances

    🍫Syag Lchochma

    Ok, I’ll try this one last time. I said it isnt about halacha, meaning that i dont have a problem with the halacha, i am arguing you on the poor parenting.

    You say my response to the gemora is a smokescreen. Well, it cant be a smoke screen cuz it wasnt even a responding.

    Which brings me back to the point i made way back that i wasnt continuing in this conversation because we are obviously speaking different languages/operating in diffetent wavelengths. I only gave an additional response because you through in a personal side point that i felt deserved the respect of a response. Have not continued on this topic tho. All the requests you made and sources and quotes wete posted after i bowed out.

    And as i said before twice now, im not conceding nor storming out, just dont see it working.


    there are plenty of others to pick up the mantle


    “Firstly, as I pointed out, if the hit was not hard enough to make sense that it killed him, everyone would be patur. So we are talking about a full fledged hit”

    No. Not at all. You’re confusing levels of intent when mistakenly causing a death: reckless, negligent, and no liability accident.

    If someone hits hard enough to kill, it’s ALWAYS reckless. He must realize that such force COULD kill, therefore it’s irrelevant whether he actually MEANT to kill. The Gemara opens the Perek with the example of a person tossing a stone over a wall into a public area, killing someone “by mistake”. He is considered to have killed recklessly (karov l’mezid) even if he truly didn’t mean to. He does not go into exile — he is liable to death bidei shamayim (and maybe Malkus, and maybe death by royal decree – opinions are split). A father who hits hard is not exempt, even if he claims “chinuch”. Everyone is liable here.

    On the other extreme, no liability accidental death is where there is no intention to kill, nor is the death foreseeable from the person’s actions. The example in the Gemara is tossing a stone into an empty private courtyard, when someone breaks in and the stone hits and kills him. The thrower did not intend to kill, nor did he act negligently. Obviously this applies to parents, whether engaged in chinuch or not. Everyone is patur here.

    The middle category, and the one we’re talking about, is negligent manslaughter. Here, the person did not intend to kill, was not grossly reckless, but the consequences were foreseeable. This is a very narrow situation. The example is a person chopping wood and the ax head falls off. Chopping wood is not necessarily a dangerous activity, but apparently ax heads were liable to come flying off. So if the chopper did not take care to clear the area, if he kills a bystander by mistake, he is liable to exile.

    The exceptions to negligent manslaughter include a parent hitting child. By DEFINITION, the hitting has to be NOT hard enough to cause serious injury i.e., non-reckless. It has to be a situation like the ax head — something not dangerous in and of itself, but could foreseeably lead to serious harm.

    The father is exempt even if he wasn’t hitting his child — any activity in which he’s engaged in chinuch but is slightly negligent will be excused. Example: while teaching son to chop wood, ax head flies off and kills son. Father is exempt, though a normal person would not be. The reason they speak about hitting is to include not only indirect causation, but direct causation as well.

    However, father is not exempt if he wasn’t engaged in chinuch (eg, he falls off a ladder onto son) – then it’s just regular shogeg, and exile. He’s also not exempt if he wasn’t negligent – ie, if he hits too hard. A person is never exempt if they hit too hard. He’s also not exempt if he claims “chinuch” but can’t actually show that the activity was proper chinuch.

    “Secondly In the context of teaching a career or swimming as the case may be, you are correct
    However the first Mishna is talking about learning that’s why the father and Rebbe are together.”

    It appears to be the opposite— Rava separates out the father to show that his defense is broadly construed for all areas of chinuch. A rebbi has the defense only to the extent of his teaching. What other mishna speaks about a father’s exemption from exile?

    “And the passuk in mishlay that the gemorah brought is pretty pro hitting not just in a few scattered out instances”

    You must acknowledge the purpose of Rava bringing this passuk here, now. The Gemara is not in the middle of discussing parenting techniques. It’s a purely legal discussion about criminal liability for death. Rava is making an effort to explain why the Mishna gets a father off the hook for well-meant but negligent education. He’s trying to construe the defense as broadly as possible (as opposed to the defense for the rebbe, or the messenger of bais din, which are more limited). He accomplishes this with the passuk in mishlei. This serves as a defense bidieved, but there’s no reason to see it as a directive l’chatchila. It’s also not an absolute defense — it’s just a presumption that if a father was engaged in chinuch, he was acting with good will. This can be disproven.

    I think the word “mitzva” is throwing you off. Sometimes mitzva means “mandatory”, and sometimes it means “baseline acceptable” (think the machlokes about eishes yfas toar). Here, it’s probable and at least possible that it means “acceptable”. Follow the logic from Abba Shaul and the wood chopper and you’ll see this. Again, you can’t remove the passuk from the context of the Gemara, which is a legal defense against criminal liability, not parenting class.

    Think of those horrible cases CV when a well-meaning and generally responsible parent leaves a baby in the car, and it passes. Courts may look for any exemption in order not to press charges, because what additional punishment could a parent possibly need after inadvertently causing the death of his child? This is not to say that such behavior is an example of model parenting.

    The passuk on its own is subject to much broader interpretation. (As you know, when the Gemara quotes from tanach, it is often seeking a very specific drash of the passuk, not the literal meaning.) Literally, יסר means to chastise. It doesn’t mean “to hit”. The pshat in mishlei is that it’s good to discipline your child —but it doesn’t say you must hit. Mussar is a way of life and can and should be very gentle. In fact, the baalei mussar that I know raise one eyebrow, and their children get the message. According to them, if a parent has to resort to hitting, they’re clearly failing on the mussar front. An eyebrow should be enough.


    While you prepare your rebuttal, let me add: As you must know, I agree wholeheartedly with Syag that this is not about Halacha. Halacha is broad and dynamic and full of contradiction — and you can always find a source to back you up.

    This is also not about hitting. Majority of posters have agreed that wonderful parents sometimes hit their children. It’s a case by case analysis.

    Please open your heart to hear this: it’s disturbing how you are making this a crusade to find sources to allow you, not to hit children, but to hit HARD, to BEAT, to SMACK — in your own words.

    Crusade is not an exaggeration. I appreciate that you are quoting sources, but some are so out of context as to be reckless 🙂 Even if you can quote a source that permits you to beat your child, we can show (and have shown) you a hundred talmidei chachamim that promote gentle, moderate, even lenient parenting — not because they’re sentimental liberals. Because they’re rachmanim bnei rachmanim.

    So your motive seems to be something other than truth seeking. It feels very strongly that you have an agenda. I know you think this is a smoke screen, but it’s not. It’s not conjecture either.

    In terms of the Jewish ideal, the compulsory vort on teztaveh came to mind over shabbos, about Moshe rabbeinu intervening in HaShem’s “discipline” of klal yisroel after the egel. The absence of Moshe’s name in this parsha is a testament to that fierce, protective compassion. He was chosen as father of the people for this very trait, as remarkably shown by his gentle care of even animals. Champion of the defenseless.

    We don’t know if you do or do not hit your children, but like I said, that’s irrelevant. Lots of wonderful, loving parents hit their kids sometimes. I am certain beyond a reasonable doubt, however, that you (like many people) did not have “Moshe rabbeinu” parents in your life, because the ideals that you vehemently espouse, and the manner in which you do so, would simply not occur to someone who did — but in fact would make them shudder. There is almost no exception to this rule, psychologically speaking.

    On the contrary, your words echo those of parents who were themselves emotionally distant, far too-easily threatened by child’s lack of compliance, and who at times demanded it harshly, or shamed child into obedience in the name of higher morals. This was not atypical in past generations. That’s not to say they couldn’t also be loving and well-meaning. Unfortunately, there’s a host of psychosocial and spiritual presumptions that flow from being raised this way — one being that you continue to justify and promote them, as you do. Children of gentle, respectful parents simply do not think or speak this way. Let me say that again: Children of gentle, respectful parents simply do not think or speak this way. These attitudes and the invisible wounds they inflict are passed down from generation to generation until someone is willing to call them out as toxic, and change. Hopefully you are that person, that “Moshe Rabbeinu” father to your precious children.


    Firstly let me thank you for a reasoned logical response.
    It’s a pleasure to finally get to the matter at hand instead of being sidetracked by meaningless conjecture and personal attacks.
    We can argue about your nuanced understanding of the gemorah.
    But I won’t for two reasons
    Firstly because this is not the correct forum for that.
    But more importantly because I asked for an alternative understanding of the sources I quoted and you provided one.
    I don’t agree but that’s already a nuanced difference which neither of us will succeed in convincing the other.
    What I will argue with you on is the following.
    ”As you must know, I agree wholeheartedly with Syag that this is not about Halacha. Halacha is broad and dynamic and full of contradiction — and you can always find a source to back you up.”
    No. It is about halacha. It is about having moved the conversation from (im paraphrasing)
    Hitting is not in the chinuch arsenal and is against the Torah (with you have openly stated you also don’t agree with)
    To where the current conversation seems to be, To wit, of course there is a place in chinuch for hitting and it is sourced in the Torah. But it’s not as common as ”you ” think/not so applicable in our times.
    That has been my contention since I jumped into this thread, and now it seems you back me up. So I have been successful in defending the truth of our Torah.
    Thank you



    I’m glad for you to have made your point (and that I render you speechless 🙂

    While I’m already being condescending and personal with you, can I say one more thing?


    You can say anything you’d like
    As knaidlach told me way back
    Anyone is free to post anything


    Two more things then! First, ALL of my comments were on the matter at hand, and were reasoned and logical; it’s just not a logic you are familiar with… yet.

    Okay but here’s some more meaningless conjecture: Over shabbos, I thought about your hypothetical son, who you describe as quiet and thoughtful, and it warmed my heart.

    I suddenly wished for you what I wish for myself with my kids: to see him the way you yearned to be seen by your parents when you were nine. Only sweetness and goodness. I wished for you to put aside all your anxiety about sticker charts and bedtimes and point-proving, and just hold him so tight that he knows he is good through and through. I mean, really hold him. I davened that all parents be awed and humbled by the privilege of raising a human being; so many people don’t have that honor, or lose it too soon. That your vision for him in adulthood be not limited to showing up to minyan and keeping the rules, but rather for him to actualize his full potential with joy. Obviously in line with HaShem’s will for him — our greatest potential is always HaShem’s will for us. That you remember often to be curious about him, to really listen, to be surprised. You are merely his custodian after all, and can’t possibly grasp the mystery of his life. We can barely grasp our own. That you put aside all the quotes and sources, and allow that wise inner parent (who has infinite spiritual resources and creativity) to guide you in being that very best father for him. And I really prayed for all of us that through parenting our children, real and hypothetical, we also become whole in whatever way we are not yet.

    🍫Syag Lchochma

    “Hitting is not in the chinuch arsenal and is against the Torah (with you have openly stated you also don’t agree with)“

    That pretty much did not happen except a minority view

    “That has been my contention since I jumped into this thread”

    That was certainly not evidenced by your posts

    “So I have been successful in defending the truth of our Torah.”

    Torah wasn’t being argued so there was nothing to defend it from.

    But if you somehow believe that you have accomplished something other than presenting a sadly not so accurate Joseph style overly aggressive view of what the Torah really said about hitting, than you surely have reason to be happy.


    🍫Syag Lchochma

    What a beautiful post! Ignore my last one and add my name to that one! 😁


    As I read your last post I could not help myself from actually laughing out loud. I was not going to respond though
    However the beautiful bracha deserves a response.
    To that I saw AMEN! וכן למר וכן לכולנו


    *obviously supposed to say ”I say ”



    (Syag: “Ignore my last one and add my name to that one!” I thought this about all of your posts on this thread!)

    Avram in MD


    “That I was unclear, is obviously possible though hard to accept as I spelled it out many times.”

    No, you were quite clear. You just want to move the goalposts and pretend that the conversation is about something different than it was. I have not once in this thread disputed that halacha permits hitting in certain circumstances. You set up a scenario and asked if hitting were appropriate in that scenario, to which I and multiple other posters said no. You dug further into that specific scenario, so I did too. So the conversation became about why you continued to think that hitting would be appropriate in that scenario, rather than the halachic discussion you now claim you wanted.


    Also positive attention works wonders. Lots and lots of praise for good behavior. Don’t think—“oh I shouldn’t praise them for something they should be doing anyway.” If you think this way, they won’t be doing the good behavior.

    I praise everything—-“Good job putting away your toys, you’re such a good boy.” “thank you for helping me with the dishes, you’re such a good girl.” “Thank you for helping me change the baby’s diaper” I give them chores. If they do good things, I praise them and give hugs and kisses.


    I’ve found that the best parenting strategy is ignoring bad behavior. It works so well. Especially for younger children.

    If they are whining or throwing a tantrum, just completely ignore them until they stop and ask nicely. Like if they are whining they want a cookie or to play with some toy, whatever it is. I dont respond to whining. I don’t even say anything. Just ignore until the tantrum stops. I don’t scold them or yell at them—it doesnt work.

    If they bite or hit or pull hair or hurt me or my husband, we just walk away. Don’t even say anything. Don’t say “ouch!” Just silence. Walk away from them. Within days, they stop the behavior.

    Children actually crave negative attention just like positive attention. So if you give them negative attention by yelling at them, or hitting them, they will keep doing the bad behavior.


    Just curious. Let’s say they take treats you don’t want them to have.
    You just ignore that negative behavior and it magically goes away?

    The little I know


    Great question. I think the answer is that not every behavior or misbehavior must have consequences. To worship punishment as the most valuable ingredient in chinuch is a colossal error. This use of consequences doesn’t teach. At the very best, it controls. And there is a limit to how much control one will exert on a child before there is repercussions.

    The primary aspect of chinuch is exactly what it translates as. Training. Teaching. One needs to educate in ways that do more than just download information. One must make the proper derech of behavior something that the child learns to be a positive thing, that they should want to aspire to that. I sincerely believe that one of the greatest problems in today’s yeshivos and schools is the use of discipline as the primary tool. It has its role, but very, very secondary to the teaching. No one ever succeeded in imparting moral values via reward or punishment. And as long as we observe our mechanchim and menahalim exercising their authority and power, we will achieve nothing.

    It is not about whether one may potch a child or talmid. It is about revisiting the goals of chinuch and how to achieve them. And, I know it is repeating, the tachlis of producing a child or talmid that has been imbued with love for Torah and mitzvos is not accomplished with punishment. Intimidation gives the wrong message, and fails to bring about positive growth.


    That was some leap you made. I understand it (your basing it on your understanding of all my comments on this thread) but it happens to be wrong.
    I would take away the treat and tell the child
    Sorry bubbaleh.
    I know you want the ”chips ” now but they are for…. And you can’t have them. Then if it’s age appropriate I give the bike a hug and kiss and that’s it. After that I don’t really deal with their crying directly.
    But to say you just ignore negative behavior and it goes away is just a foolish statement.


    Just came across this this shabbos.
    In the sefer מנחת תודה from ר חיים קניבבסקי,
    On page 114 he quotes himself from his sefer טעמא דקרא
    On the passuk ולא עצבו אביו מימיו לאמר מדוע ככה עשית
    So he asks how can it be that דוד המלך would allow his son to do something wrong and not admonish him?
    He answers that אדניהו never did anything wrong!!!!
    The issue is that דוד המלך should have found an excuse to smack his son once in a while as the פסוק says יסר בנך ויניחך !!

    Yes he says straight out that there was a טענה on דוד המלך for not figuring out a reason to be able to “HIT! ” his son. And the passuk where that concept comes from is יסר בנך.
    Not like some posters want to claim that the passuk is not referring to physical מוסר
    Please look up the passage before telling me I’m wrong. It’s short and seemingly unambiguous.

    Again this is not a blanket clarion call to beat ones children.
    Rather it shows that corporal punishment WAS an integral and necessary component of torah true Chinuch


    I’ll quote it in full
    חנוך לנער
    אמר רבינו כתבתי בספר טעמא דקרא על מה שכתוב בהפטרה
    ( חיי שרה)
    ולא עצבו אביו מימיו. שלמה באמת לא עצבו. ופירשתי שבאמת התנהג כהוגן ולא היה מה להוכיחו. והטענה על דוד היתה שצריך לחפש דבר עלילה כדי לבכות את ההן ולהטיל עליו מורא, אע”פ שלא חטא כלום כמו שאמרו במכות ח’ א’ התם אע”ג דגמיר מצוה דכתיב יסר בנך ויניחך ויתן מעדנים לנפשך
    ( אמנם מדאי הרבה גם לא טוב, אבל מעט הוא מוכרח )

    עכ”ל מלה במלה

    The little I know


    Two responses to your recent comments.

    1) I do not question the use of reward and punishment. However, it is beneficial within certain limits. There are age appropriate rewards. Think if you davened mincha today, and you were rewarded with a piece of candy. That would be rather absurd. It would not accomplish anything. perhaps, it might be accepted and an insult. This is not determined by any hard and fast rules, and one needs to have and exercise good judgment.

    2) The quote from Rav Chaim shlit”a is identical to a statement by Rav Dessler, published in the Michtav Me’Eliyahu. I do not have it handy to give you the exact citation. My point is that discipline has its role, and the absence of it is exactly what Rav Chaim and Rav Dessler were suggesting. I do not disagree. Yet, if a child was behaving properly, and the father concocted something to smack him, there can be risk of driving the child away. Doing so without knowing your kid would be irresponsible. Your point fails to provide the basics of justification for the common practice within yeshivos to discipline as the main approach to chinuch. Clearly, חשוך שבטו never suggested to beat the daylights out the kid. Rather, it is note that the complete absence of discipline is counterproductive. There is a balance.

    Back to the OP. It is not about intimidating, nor about instilling fear. Children (and adults) should have מורא רבך כמורא שמים. But that is not the fear of the potch. It is the awe. If we think that we can build positive awe on the negative of fear, we have a misguided confusion of the issues. The potch that teaches is the one that is limited, calculated, and within the context of a relationship between the rebbe/parent and the child in which the potch is educational, not punishing.


    I think fully but it’s a bit long so I skimmed parts of it.

    Again my point is solely to address Those who contend that corporal punishment has no part in חינוך and never did. And who would go to great lengths to reinterpret the passuk/im that they do not mean the simple meaning that they actually say.
    Guidelines? Parameters? Those are individual considerations Not really subject to blanket public parameters


    That’s a lot of hate there.
    You might want to see someone to help you deal with it.
    I can’t say I follow Joseph but my goodness what has he written to deserve the hate???
    Calling him vermin?
    For what?
    Cause he wants women to stay in the home?

    Reb Trump



    So then why?
    Why all the hate on Josef???


    The Little I Know:

    For what its worth your “May 14, 2019 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm” post was tremendous. (Thats another way of saying i totally agreed).

    Mr SL

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