Rav Avigdor Miller on Forceful Chinuch

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Q:

You spoke before about a man you know who learned how to live successfully because his father hit him when required. But doesn’t it state in a certain sefer that one shouldn’t hit a child with force?

A:

It could be.  It depends on the circumstances.

I’ll give you an example.  If a child is addicted to the habit of running across the street through traffic and you hit him once and he still doesn’t obey, then it’s not enough to hit him as you did before.  You have to hit him with force, with violence, because this is saving his life.

Suppose a child insists on going out in the street at night and coming back at all hours of the night; then you have to beat him within an inch of his life because you’re saving his life. I know a father who yielded to his daughter and she started going out on the street at night. And I don’t want to tell you what happened in the end.  If he had beaten that daughter; had he said, “Nothing doing! You want to remain alive? Then you stay here!” he would have saved her life.

How many children have been killed—I don’t mean just spiritually—because their parents gave them money and didn’t ask any questions? You have to know where your child is. Is he hanging out with addicts?  Who knows what your daughter is doing on the streets at night?

And therefore, there’s no such thing as mild treatment when great peril is involved.  Ordinarily for smaller things, let’s say a child broke a glass, a child even broke your watch, you don’t go into a rage over such things. It’s not important. You might have to do something but not in anger.

And therefore, the seforim say that you must always use discretion.

TAPE # 414 (August 1982)

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