Corporal Punishment of Children in Israel: A New Trend in Secular and Religious Law

30 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2009

See all articles by Yehiel Kaplan

Yehiel Kaplan

University of Haifa - Faculty of Law

Date Written: 2006


The new trend of Justice Beinish, in Plonit v. The State of Israel, regarding the legal relationship between parents and children, is analyzed.

This article argues that the position of Justice Beinish is justified in light of results of research that prove that corporal punishment of children causes emotional damage. In addition, it is an outcome of three legal doctrines pertaining to children in Israel: the best interest of the child, the principles of the convention on the rights of the child, and those of Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty.

This article also argues that, contrary to the common view, the policy of Justice Beinish in the above matter is not distant from the viewpoint of many contemporary scholars of Jewish Law who have addressed the same matter. Some prominent Jewish scholars assert that certain circumstances do justify implementation of corporal punishment. However, the major trend in Jewish Law has been that the permission to apply this punishment in special and irregular circumstances is an exception. The major trend of Jewish Law can be characterized as a gradual yet constant attempt to impart more significance to the policy of guiding parents and educators to prefer pleasant and non-violent means of education. In recent generations this trend has become more evident. Lately, more Jewish Law scholars have stressed the dangers of corporal punishment. In addition, positive consequences could emerge in this sphere as a result of a new trend in Jewish Rabbinical courts in Israel, which grant validity to the interpretation of social workers and psychologists of the concept of the best interest of the child. These professionals act in light of recent results of scientific research on the negative effect of any type of corporal punishment; furthermore, especially in recent generations, the best interest of the child is an important consideration, and sometimes a paramount or sole consideration in Jewish law when policy on children is formulated. Therefore, this article argues that Jewish Law could shift still closer to the position of abolishing all forms of corporal punishment since they can cause physical and emotional damage to children.

Keywords: Plonit v. The State of Israel, corporal punishment, children, emotional damage, best interest, Human Dignity and Liberty

JEL Classification: K39

Suggested Citation

Kaplan, Yehiel, Corporal Punishment of Children in Israel: A New Trend in Secular and Religious Law (2006). Available at SSRN: or

Yehiel Kaplan (Contact Author)

University of Haifa - Faculty of Law ( email )

Mount Carmel
Haifa, 31905

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