Volume 9, Issue 5, 5776

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Is It Kosher for Parents to Spank?

Spanking was in the news spotlight this year. There was much controversial discussion after a mom smacked her 16-year-old son (on camera) for throwing rocks at the police during a violent demonstration in Baltimore. In June the Massachusetts Supreme Court established guidelines for the use of physical punishment, including spanking, by parents. I was spanked as a child, although only if I’d done something really wrong. The fact that I can’t remember any of the reasons behind getting spanked makes a case for how ineffective, at best, this type of discipline may be. None of the moms I know today spank their kids (I’m told), and yet, as you’ll learn in this issue, the large majority of American parents do spank. We Americans certainly have complicated feelings about the topic, and on whether we are meant to “Spare the rod. Spoil the child.” (Proverbs 13:24). In this issue, we present various Jewish perspectives to help you form or reshape your own opinion. Our name “614” comes from the fact that even though there are 613 good deeds suggested for leading a Jewish life, there’s always room for exploration. No. 614 this month: Be intentional about how you discipline your children.

Michelle Cove, Editor

In This Issue

  • The Israel Anti-Spanking Model white pigeon with olive branch

    Why America should consider following Israel’s lead when it comes to establishing a law against corporal punishment. by David Cooperson “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” This quote, attributed to Victor Hugo two hundred years ago, could describe Israel’s compassionate change in spanking policies. In 2000, Israel decided to protect children by legal ...

  • It’s about the Intention peretz_kid

    How one rabbi learned as a child to distinguish between spanks for discipline and those out of cruelty. by Rabbi Peretz Chein In recalling my childhood, when I was occasionally disciplined by physical means, two incidents come to mind. The first occurred when I was seven years old. Our school and other schools from the community traveled ...

  • A Mother’s Harsh Hand fabulous_kid

    At age 23, I cannot account for how my future self will react to my child misbehaving. by Fabulous F. Flores Growing up, I was spanked by my mother. Most of my spankings were endured alongside my brother, seeing as how we were partners in crime. As one gets older, however, spankings tend to lose their effect; ...

  • Jewish Primer on Spanking Depositphotos_2951606_s-2015

    By the Talmudic period, harsh doctrines of parental discipline were replaced with an emphasis on kindness and compassion. by Rabbi Victor Appell Reprinted with permission from ReformJudaism.org. Does Judaism advise spanking a disobedient child? Rather than answering this question myself, I’m going to refer you to this great answer by Dr. William Berkson, director of the Jewish Institute for ...

  • It’s Always Wrong to Spank (and I Regret Every Time I’ve Done It) Kid having a tantrum

    I hit when my frustration level was too high to quickly think of something else to do. by Renée Septimus Reprinted with permission from Kveller.com. In my opinion, it is always wrong to spank your children. Even a single shmeits (Yiddish, slap). And let’s call it what it is: spanking means hitting. “Giving a spanking” means hitting repeatedly. It is an abuse ...

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