Forum Replies Created
BneiBarakObama, good point. And good for you for being married to a non-shrew!
1) Are you not married to a shrew because you “made sure not to” — or because it’s “your destiny… the divine plan”?
2) Would you think differently about accepting your marriage as “your destiny” if your wife was a shrew? If you had “made sure not to” marry a shrew, but she turned out to be one anyway? If she was worse than a shrew?
3) Does “bashertness” of a marriage today preclude divorce later on?
(Syag: “Ignore my last one and add my name to that one!” I thought this about all of your posts on this thread!)
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.
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?
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, 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.
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.
DATS ALOTTA CONJECTURE GOING THERE.
Hardly. You’ve been baring your soul through your posts about parenting, religion, obsessive desire to smack children and moralize/glorify it, and G-d. Plenty of fodder for character analysis (but I can break it down further for you if you need, you’re pretty textbook. Better yet, take this thread to a professional and get some pointed feedback).
NOT WORTHY OF ANY DIRECT RESPONSE.
You mean: I’m right and it’s uncanny. Well, it got you to stop pontificating about abusing children, so I’m happy.
By the way, according to that quote from Iggeres HaGRA (did you even read it?), the GRA would have had you “potched” for כזב. Conversely, the quote does not extend to you laying a hand on your son for being a curious reader with age-appropriate impulse control, who just happens to annoy you. So maybe stop flinging that quote around everywhere; it really works against you…
Perhaps the real issue here is not about hitting or not hitting, but that you cannot be mechanech your children with faith, compassion and integrity if you are fundamentally lacking there.
And, through no fault of your own, you obviously are.
A person with emunah does not feel so threatened by a sleepy 9 year old bookworm, or so fearful of the possibility of him not going to minyan when he’s 14, to be compelled to be violent with him. So harsh with such a young child. One would think he’s skinning animals alive, the way you speak of him.
A person with emunah does not “need” his child to keep shabbos. He “needs” to do his best in his own avodas Hashem (including chinuch) and then trust that Hashem has given each person the privilege of being responsible for his own life. If you had a meaningful connection with Hashem and His torah, you would care most that your child has that real connection too, and would not prioritize hollow practice of rituals over the pinimius of them.
An honest person does not create a false dichotomy between a) continuing with a few halfhearted, failed parenting strategies (making charts, taking away books) and b) hitting. He would see that there are, in fact, an infinite array of creative options, and plenty of wise guidance, available to him.
But first and foremost, a maamin would do some deep prayer and self examination. Hashem has obviously given you this child to bring about YOUR growth, and probably healing from your own childhood. You distract yourself by demanding change in that child, but the truth is, you do not believe that you are capable of change yourself. As long as that is the case, you will fail to inspire change in anyone else. (Similarly, you likely feel self-loathing for your own struggles with self-discipline and that’s why this child’s behavior enrages you. כל הפוסל במומו פוסל)
You are not being honest with yourself or with others. You say you are worried about your child not going to minyan in 5 years, but really you are just angry about missing your train and having your will generally frustrated by this child. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s very normal, but for some reason you can’t own that this is about your anger and shame. You assert that you are discussing a hypothetical child, when in fact there is a very real 9 year old in your life who makes you feel helpless. You distract others with philosophical discussions of corporal punishment. Because if you were honest about what’s really happening, you might have to take steps toward actual change, and that makes you feel more helpless than anything else.
It’s not your fault. You were likely raised with the same attitudes that you show here and are unwittingly instilling in your own children now.
You know, a helpless person can always cry out to Hashem sincerely, over and over again, until something shifts — maybe just an insight. If only you really believed in Him, and His rachamim! Instead here you are picking fights in the coffee room, seeking permission to smack your child.
Instead of waiting until this child is 14 to run to experts for help, why not go to those experts now? If you are willing to confront yourself, an expert may help you sort through some of your very damaging beliefs about yourself and others. Either way, I hope one day you see that love and connection is not the weak choice for you, but actually the harder, more courageous choice.