Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

15 Av 5760 - August 16, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family
Spanking Law Proposed
by Eliezer Rauchberger

UTJ's MK Rabbi Avrohom Ravitz proposed the passage of a "Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child Law" in the Knesset. According to the law, under special circumstances stemming from their obligation to educate, parents will be allowed to hit a child lightly and in a manner that will not inflict physical or emotional harm. In addition, the spanking must be bearable and for educational purposes.

At the Government's request, the vote on the law was postponed.

In his presentation, Rabbi Ravitz claimed that although a child is not the property of his parents, a parent has a moral obligation of the highest degree to educate him. He stressed that punishment meted out within the child's educational framework -- including corporal punishment which does not harm the child and is not violent -- may not be classified as, "assaults on the defenseless." Parents may use such means of punishment for educational purposes.

Rabbi Ravitz said that his proposal was made in the wake of the recent High Court ruling stating that a parent is forbidden to hit his children -- even lightly -- for educational purposes. He reported that after placing his proposal on the Knesset's table, he has received support from many communal figures, among them Justice Amnon Strashnov, who recommended adoption of the proposal. The justice sent Rabbi Ravitz a copy of a ruling he had issued on the topic, in which he determined that corporal punishment inflicted for the purpose of education of a child is neither inappropriate nor forbidden as long at it is meted out in the correct manner.

Rabbi Ravitz repeatedly explained that his proposal isn't meant to permit unrestrained, merciless beating of children. "We do not intend to let parents abuse their children. It is forbidden to abuse anyone. All people are forbidden to abuse others: how much more so parents, who must be gentle and compassionate towards their children," he stressed, explaining that abuse is also forbidden according to halocho and our mussar teachings.

In his address, he quoted academic and judicial figures who said that punishment, including light hitting for educational purposes is appropriate and is the norm throughout society.

MK Yossi Sarid called the bill "an outrage of which there is no example in any law book in the world. Who has ever heard of a parliament allowing children to be beaten?" Dr. Yitzhak Kadmon, Director of the Council for Children's Rights, said that it was scandalous that Minister Beilin had surrendered to the chareidim, and that he had mobilized a decisive majority of MK's from most parties to defeat the bill.


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