9. Kibbud Av Va’eim-Chapter 9: Rules for parents

Chapter 9: Rules for parents

1. Limits in what they can instruct their children-Not to overburden one’s child with demands and to be forgiving of one’s respect:[1]

It is forbidden for a parent to overburden his children with demands and to be overparticular with their respect towards him, in order so he does not cause them to stumble. [According to the above, a parent should not make a request from his child if he knows that it will be most difficult for his child to fulfill it and will cause him much pain. A parent who knows or assesses[2] that his child will not listen to his instructions and instructs him anyways to fulfill his wishes, transgresses the prohibition of Lifnei Iver the moment that he gives his instructions.[3] This applies even if the child does in the end comply with the request.[4]]

Forgiving one’s honor: Rather, a parent should forgive [his honor] and ignore their disrespect, as a father who forgives his honor, his honor is forgiven. [This applies even if the child was not made aware that his father forgave his respect and hence it is recommended for a parent to forgive his respect even without the knowledge of his child in order so the child not get punished.[5]] See Chapter 1 Halacha 6 for the full details of this matter!


Treating one’s adult children similar to colleagues and brothers:

Some Poskim[6] write that for this reason a father should treat his older children similar to brothers and colleagues and speak to them with calm and patience and this will help one have a good relationship with his children.


Advice for parents whose adult children don’t always listen to them:[7]

In the event that one’s adult children don’t always listen to the parents request, often it helps if one speaks to the friends of the adult child to speak with him and try to influence him in the direction of the parents. Experience shows that friends of the child can have much more influence on him than even relatives and parents together.

2. Hitting one’s children:[8]

Small children: It is permitted for one to hit his small children for disciplinary measures. This applies even to [non-biological] children that are part of one’s household, such as an [adopted] orphan [or foster child].[9]

Adult children? It is forbidden for one to hit his adult children [whether male or female[10], due to fear that this may cause them to retaliate and transgress the command to honor and fear one’s parents].[11] One who hit his adult children would be placed in excommunication as he transgresses the prohibition of “Lifnei Iver Lo Sitein Michshol.”[12] [This prohibition applies even if the parent plans to forgive his child if they retaliate back. This prohibition applies even if one assesses that his child will not physically retaliate against him, but will speak against him and transgress the obligation to fear one’s parent.[13] This prohibition applies even if one’s intent in hitting the child is for educational purposes to discipline the child make him into a good person.[14] However, some Poskim permit hitting an adult child who is in the midst of performing a transgression in order to stop him from doing it.[15]]

Until what age may one hit a child: A child is considered an adult in this regard from age 24 years old.[16] The main time of educating a child is from age 16-24.[17] Prior to age 16 the child does not have enough maturity to fully receive reproof from his parent, and one is thus not to chastise him and give him too heavy of a punishment. After 24 years old however there is worry that perhaps the child will rebel and fight back.[18] [If however the child is already married, then he may no longer be hit by his father even if he is below the above age.[19] Likewise, if the child is already looked upon as an adult by society, he may no longer be hit, irrelevant of age.[20] Likewise, if the child is of age and/or of temperament that he would retaliate for being hit, such as by hitting his parent back or cursing him, then he is considered an adult in this matter and is forbidden to be hit even if he is under Bar or Bas Mitzvah.[21] Likewise, if the child is of an age that he may go off the Derech as a result of being hit by his father, then it may be forbidden to hit the child.[22]]

For what reasons may a child be hit?[23] One’s small children may be hit for their personal benefit. For example, they may be hit for disciplinary measures to educate them in Torah and Mitzvos. They may also be hit in order to teach them Derech Eretz [proper manners and Middos, or for their personal safety].[24] Furthermore, if one’s children are disobedient and do not listen to his instructions, he may hit them even for his own benefit, so they become obedient and listen to instructions.[25] If however, the children are obedient and listen to his instructions, it is forbidden to hit them when it is not for their benefit just as it is forbidden to hit any other person.[26] One who does so transgresses a negative command of hitting a fellow Jew.[27] [If one abuses his child by hitting him unnecessarily, he is excommunicated.[28] One is to always first try to discipline the child through other methods prior to hitting him, and only if these methods do not work may the child be hit.[29] There are many disciplinary philosophies in practice today which substitute hitting for other more useful and harmless methods.[30] It is incumbent upon parents to train themselves to become effective disciplinarians so their children are disciplined, but not in an abusive manner. It is also incumbent upon the parent to know when and when not to make an issue of the matter and at times it is more beneficial for one to simply ignore the issue, especially in these generations.[31]]

How to hit: Even when a child needs to be hit for disciplinary reasons, he is not to be hit with cruelty as do to the fools. Every parent must do so with wisdom.[32] When necessary, the child may be hit either with a hand, or with a belt or rod.[33]

Not to threaten a child by saying he will get hit later on:[34] If a child needs reprimanding, one is not to threaten the child that he will hit him later on, but is rather to either hit him immediately upon him doing the action, or is not to do anything at all.[35] [Some, however, write that this only applies after the child already did the prohibited action however prior to him doing so, one may tell the child that if he does such and such and such and such will happen.[36]]

During the three weeks:[37] From the 17th of Tamuz until the 9th of Av one is to avoid hitting the students [or children[38]] during these days [even with a belt[39], and certainly not with a stick or rod[40].] [Some Poskim[41] however rule one may hit a child using hands. Other Poskim[42] rule that even using one’s hands to hit is included in the prohibition. Some Poskim[43] rule that this restriction does not apply in a room with a Mezuzah. Some Poskim[44] rule that there is no restriction to hit on the outer limbs such as the hand and leg, and the restriction is only with regards to areas of the inner limbs. Some Poskim[45] rule that the above restriction only applies between the 4th and 9th hour [of the day]. Other Poskim[46] rule that one is to be stringent through the entire period of time.]


It is Biblically forbidden to hit one’s child for non-disciplinary reasons or unjustifiably. Even hitting for disciplinary reasons is permitted only when the child is still young enough to absorb the hit and become disciplined. Such a child may be hit to educate him in Torah, Mitzvos, Derech Eretz, safety, or obedience to parents. In all cases one must first try to discipline the child in other measures and not use excessive force.



May one hit a child out of anger?

It is Biblically forbidden to hit a child for non-disciplinary reasons. Thus, if one hits out of anger simply in order to pain the child and quench one’s fury, he transgresses a Biblical command. Even if one is also doing so in order to educate the child in one of the above-mentioned matters of which it is permitted for the child to be hit, nevertheless, it is not legally or Halachically advisable to hit one’s child when angry. The reason for this is because it a) Leads to excessive use of force, beyond that necessary; b) Causes one to misjudge the child’s guilt and the proper measure of discipline deserved by the child. Thus, one is to first calm down and only then cool headedly hand over the necessary measures of discipline. Many a times a parent is already agitated about other issues when he comes to hit the child, and in truth that hit contains previous anger and frustrations which are now being unjustifiably released on the child. Such a hit may carry a Biblical prohibition, even though its purpose is also for disciplinary measures. As a word of advice: Calm down, have a drink, eat something, set a time to think over the child’s behavior, investigate the child’s side of the story, and give a proper and effective disciplinary action. Don’t hit just so you feel better, hit with a purpose that benefits the child.


Is it legal per secular law to hit your child?[47]

According to United States law in all 50 states it is permitted to hit a child with reasonable force for disciplinary measures. Nevertheless, some states only allow hitting with a bare hand while others allow rod spanking and the like. In all states, it is illegal, and against Halacha, to hit a child out of anger or other non-disciplinary reasons, or with excessive force, and one who does so is liable to get arrested on counts of child abuse.


Is hot saucing a permitted and legal form of disciplinary action?

Halacha: According to Halacha, using hot sauce would seemingly have the same status as hitting a child, and may be used for disciplinary measures, although is forbidden to be used out of anger and without justifiable reasons. Nonetheless, its use must be measured in appropriation to the child’s age, offense, and standing health of the child.

Health concerns: Some pediatricians warn against the practice as it can cause an allergic reaction, swelling of the tongue and esophagus.

Secular law:[48]  There is no law in the U.S.A. that prohibits hot saucing as a disciplinary measure, although in some jurisdictions it can be considered a call for concern.

What parents say:[49] Many parents strongly advocate against hot saucing while others claim it is a painful but harmless and effective disciplinary measure.

Sparks of Chassidus

A Chassid does not hit a child:[50]

The Rebbe Rayatz once related: A father who hits his child may be a Tzadik, compassionate and righteous, although a Chassid he is not, as a Chasid does not hit.

Hitting one’s child should bring him pain:

Even when one is forced into reprimanding his child through physically hitting him, this should cause him much pain to the point he feels like crying. A story is told of Rav Yitzchak Shaul, a dear colleague of Reb Baruch, the father of the Alter Rebbe, that his father wept bitterly after smiting his child for cruel behavior.[51]

The Torah requires one to be a loving disciplinarian:

The Sages[52] state that three matters are to be dealt with love of one’s right hand and sternness with ones left hand: 1) The evil inclination; 2) Children; 3) Women. This means that one must balance a proper measure of revealed love and care to a child together with discipline. If a child is only shown disciplinary measures by his parents, it can make him rebel. It can potentially damage his emotional health and relationship with the parent and cause long term effects down the road of his life such as in his relationships with his parents, siblings, spouse and own children. On the other hand, if the parent is not a disciplinarian it teaches the child bad character traits and can also lead to damaging effects down the road of his life. It is therefore incumbent on a parent to show a child both love and discipline in order to properly balance the child’s emotional health with a good character. On this Chazal stated use a right hand [i.e., love] and a left hand [i.e., discipline], but using just one is counterproductive and potentially damaging.

3. Admonishing one’s children:[53]

It is forbidden for one to admonish his adult children too much in a way that will cause them to fight back and belittle the parent.


4. May a parent serve a child:[54]

If a father desires to serve his son, it is permitted for the son to accept the service.[55] [Thus, if a father or mother desires to serve a meal to their son, they may do so, and the son does not have to protest this. It is due to this that the world is accustomed to permit one’s parents to bring them food and clothing as the parents forgive their honor in this matter and desire to provide their children.[56] However, every child is to be sensitive and conscious to this matter so that the parent does not do more than they really wish to do and are doing so out of force or lack of choice.[57] Thus, it is proper for a child to offer to take over his parent in the chores that they do on one’s behalf, in order to properly mediate this matter.]

If the father is a Ben Torah:[58] If the father is a Ben Torah, then he may not serve his son [and the son is to refuse the service even if his father presses him to accept it[59]].[60] [This applies even if the father is not a Torah scholar but merely a Ben Torah.[61] Accordingly, in most religious homes today that the father is a Ben Torah, the children should refuse to accept the service of their father, and hence rather than ask their father to prepare them a drink they are to do so themselves. However, some Poskim[62] imply that this only applies if the father is the teacher of the son in Torah. Furthermore, some Poskim[63] rule that if the father desires very much to serve his son, then he may be allowed to do so. However, other Poskim[64] rule that even in such a case the child is to refuse to accept the service from his father and is to insist on doing it himself. Practically, one may be lenient like the first opinion regarding those matters that do not take too much effort and trouble on the part of the father to perform, and it is the way of the world for a father to do on behalf of his children.[65]]

May a child ask from his parent to serve him, such as to serve bring him a cup of water and the like?[66]

The above allowance for a child to accept a service from his parent is specifically if the parent chooses to do so on his own initiative. It however remains forbidden for the child to request from his parent to serve him or do an errand on his behalf, as doing so is considered an act of Chutzpa.[67] This is with exception to those cases in which the son assesses that the parent would be more than happy for the request to have been made, in which case the son may make the request of his parent.[68] Even in those cases that it is permitted for one to make the request from his parent, it should only be said in a most honorable manner, and in private not in front of others so people do not get the impression that one is make his father his servant. Even in those cases of prohibition, it is permitted for the child to hint the matter to his parent, or ask his parent in a way that does not sound like a command or instruction but rather simply as an inquiry if the parent is open for the request.[69] This, however, should be limited only to those matters which is common for a parent to perform on behalf of his child.



[1] Michaber 240:19; Tur 240:19; Rambam Mamrim 6:8; Kiddushin 32a; Sefer Chassidim 565; Encyclopedia Talmudit Erech Kibud Av Vaeim Vol. 26 p. 429-430; Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:52

[2] See Tosafus Avoda Zara 6b; Machaneh Chaim 1:47

[3] Sefer Chassidim 562; See Tosafus Sanhedrin 63b; Rosh 7:3; Chofetz Chaim Hilchos Lashon Hara 9:1; Chazon Ish Y.D. 62:13

[4] Yad Malachi 367; Yitzchak Yiranein Hilchos Talmud Torah 6

[5] Sefer Chassidim 152; Shiyurei Kneses Hagedola Tur 240:38; Kiddushin 32a “Rav Huna tore a silk garment in front of his son Raba Bar Rav Huna in order to test him to see if he would get angry. He did so when his son was already angry over another issue. By doing so, he did not transgress the prohibition of Lifnei Iver being that he had already forgiven his honor. He likewise did not transgress the prohibition of Bal Tashchis being that he tore it in an area where it would not lose any of its value.”; Tosafus and Ritva ibid; See Yosef Ometz 87 and Teshuvah Meahava 370; Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnote 774

[6] Bris Olam on Sefer Chassidim 343 as can be learned from Scripture which states that Yaakov treated his sons like his brothers

[7] Likkutei Sichos 22:435

[8] Admur Hilchos Nizkei Guf Vanefesh 4; Michaber Y.D. 240:20; Rama Y.D. 233:1 regarding a child who makes vows; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 143:18; 165:1; 184:2; Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:53

[9] Admur Hilchos Nizkei Guf Vanefesh 4 in parentheses; Admur 156:9; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 184:2

[10] Iyun yaakov Moed Katan 17; Yifei Laleiv 3:35

[11] Michaber Y.D. 240:20; Admur ibid “small children”; Moed Katan 17a

[12] Michaber ibid; Rambam Mamrim 6:9; Moed Katan ibid; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 143:18

[13] Birkeiy Yosef 240:14

[14] Aguda Kiddushin 1:26; Sdei Chemed Mareches Vav Kelal 24:14

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule it is permitted to hit an adult child for educational purposes such as for him to learn Torah or a profession. [Sdei Chemed ibid in name of Ritva Kiddushin 32a]

[15] Seder Halacha Hilchos Deios 6; Gevuros Yitzchak Inyan Gittin 58

[16] Admur Hilchos Talmud Torah 1:6; Second opinion in Rama 240:20 as explained in Shach 240:21; Opinion in Beis Yosef 334

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule it is forbidden to hit a child from age 22. [Rama 240:20 says “22 or 24” and Shach 240:21 explains that this is a dispute in Poskim, some say 22 and some say 24; Rashal Yam Shel Shlomo Kiddushin 68, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah 240:17; Opinion in Kiddushin 30a and so rules Rashi ibid] Some Poskim rule the prohibition applies at age 22 although excommunication is only given from age 24. [Rashal ibid, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah 240:17]

[17] Admur ibid based on merge of the two opinions in Kiddushin ibid; See Igros Kodesh 2:168

[18] Admur Hilchos Talmud Torah 1:6; Rashi Kiddushin ibid; Birkeiy Yosef 240:15

[19] Rashal Kiddushin 68, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah 240:17

[20] See Rashal ibid

[21] Ritva Moed Katan 17a, brought in Birkeiy Yosef 240:15; Chayeh Adam 67:21; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 143:18; Pela Yoeitz Erech Hakaha; Hagahos Imrei Baruch 240; Aruch Hashulchan 240:42; Beis Efraim Y.D. 76; Rav Akiva Eiger in name of Piskeiy Tosafus Moed Katan 3:76This does not contradict the Rama:/Admur ibid as they mentioned the average age regarding this matter, although in truth the determining factor is whether the child will become obedient or retaliate back. [Ritva ibid]

[22] See Beir Moshe 5:10-4 based on dispute between Shach and Taz 334:1

[23] Admur Hilchos Nizkei Guf Vanefesh 4 in parentheses; Rambam Rotzeiach 5:5; Makos 8b; Salmas Chaim 352

[24] The reason: As this kind of hitting is intended for their own benefit, and the parent is responsible in benefiting the children that are within his authority. [Admur ibid in parentheses]

[25] Admur Hilchos Nizkei Guf Vanefesh 4 in parentheses; Taz 240:1 based on Yerushalmi and Ramban that Beis Din may choose to hit children, so they perform the Mitzvah of Kibbud Av.

The reason: As it is permitted for a parent to force his children to listen to him, as is commanded of them [in the Torah “Honor your father and mother”]. [Admur ibid]

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule it is forbidden to hit a child so he performs the Mitzvah of Kibbud Av. [Smeh C.M. 107:2, based on Rama 240:1, brought in Taz ibid; Opinion of Rosh who argues on Ramban ibid]

[26] Admur Hilchos Nizkei Guf Vanefesh 4 in parentheses; Braisa Bava Kama 87b

[27] Admur Hilchos Talmud Torah 1:13 regarding Melamed who hits without Reshus

[28] Piskeiy Tosafus Moed Katan 3:76

[29] Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 165:1; See Sefer Hasichos 5704 p. 15 that a Chassid never hits and rather uses other measures

[30] See https:::www.loveandlogic.com: for a wonderful disciplinary philosophy which is both harmless, and effective, and almost completely avoids the need to ever hit a child out of discipline. 

[31] See Sichos Mussar Shmulevitz 3:24

[32] Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 165:1

[33] See Taz 551:18; M”B 551:103

[34] Hagahos Rav Akiva Eiger 240:9; Miseches Semachos 2:6; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 165:7

[35] This is due to a story which occurred that a child which was threatened to be hit went and committed suicide out of fear. [Kitzur SHU”A ibid]

[36] Vayeishev Moshe 2:7-8 in name of Rav Moshe Feinstein

[37] Michaber 551:18

[38] Levush 551; Kaf Hachayim 551:230

[39] Taz 551:18; M”B 551:103

[40] Piskeiy Teshuvos 551:57

[41] Ashel Avraham of Butchach 551

[42] Peri Megadim 551 M”Z 18

[43] Ashel Avraham of Butchach 551

[44] Ashel Avraham of Butchach 551

[45] Peri Megadim 551 M”Z 18; Levush 551; Siddur Yaavetz

[46] Tosefes Chaim Chayei Adam 133:17

[47] See here: http:::blogs.findlaw.com:blotter:2014:06:is-it-legal-to-hit-your-kids.html

[48] See here: http:::www.washingtonpost.com:wp-dyn:articles:A52909-2004Aug9.html; and here https:::en.wikipedia.org:wiki:Hotsaucing

[49] See here: http:::www.washingtonpost.com:wp-dyn:articles:A52899-2004Aug9.html

[50] Sefer Hasichos 5704 p. 15

[51] Memoirs Vol. 1 p. 334 [English edition]

[52] Sotah 47a; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 165:7

[53] Tzafichis BeDevash 53; Yifei Laleiv 3:35; Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:53

[54] See Michaber 240:25; Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:63; Encyclopedia Talmudit Erech Kibud Av Vaeim Vol. 26 p. 427

[55] Michaber ibid; Kiddushin 31b “Rebbe Yaakov Bar Avahu asked Abayey as to what he is to do being that as soon as he arrives home his father offers him a cup of wine and his mother pours for him a cup of water. Abayey answered that while he may allow his mother to do so he may not allow his father to do so being that his father is a Ben Torah he will become weakened.”; Yerushalmi Kiddushin 1:7, brought in Tosafus Kiddushin 31b and Meiri ibid and Ran and Nimukei Yosef ibid, regarding the mother of Rebbe Yishmael who desired to wash the feet of her son upon his return from the hall of study and then drink the water, he refused to let her do so and was then instructed by the sages to allow her to do so as her wishes are her honor [See Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnotes 754 for different Girsaos of this Yerushalmi in Rishonim]; Tosafus Riy Hazakein Kiddushin 31b; Meiri 31a-b and 32a [regarding mother]; Piskei Riaz Kiddushin 1:8-15 [regarding mother]; Sefer Chassidim 152; Rabbeinu Yerucham Nesivei Adam 4, brought in Beis Yosef 240; Sefer Hayirah 198; Pesakim Uteshuvos 240:63; Encyclopedia Talmudit Erech Kibud Av Vaeim Vol. 26 p. 427

The reason: As a father who forgives his honor, his honor is forgiven, and since he wants to serve his son and this is his wish, then this itself is his honor. [Tosafus Riy Hazakein ibid; Riaz ibid; Sefer Hayirah ibid; Sefer Chassidim ibid; Poskim ibid]

[56] Meiah Shearim 39; Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid

[57] Meiri ibid; Meiah Shearim ibid; See Hamkaneh Kiddushin 31b; Torah Lishma 275; Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnote 764

[58] Michaber ibid; Kiddushin 31b regarding story of Rebbe Yaakov Bar Avahu whose parents wanted to serve him and he was told by Abayey that while he may allow his mother to do so he may not allow his father to do so being that his father is a Ben Torah; Chayeh Adam 66:26; See Meiri ibid and Riaz ibid that he should only accept service from his mother and not father; Omitted From Tur and Rambam and Rosh, Vetzaruch Iyun; See Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnote 758

[59] Peri Chadash 240:28; Birkeiy Yosef 240:25

[60] The reason: As this can cause the father to feel feelings of weakness [i.e., not forgive his honor with a full heart]. [Kiddushin ibid; Rameh ibid; Poskim ibid]

[61] See Ran ibid

[62] Maharsha Kiddushin ibid

[63] Ran and Nimukei Yosef on Kiddushin ibid based on Yerushalmi ibid; Encyclopedia Talmudit ibid footnote 762

[64] Peri Chadash Likkutim 240, brought in Birkeiy Yosef 240:25; Orchos Rabbeinu 3:109; Maaseh Ish 6:150

[65] Torah Lishma 275; Shraga Hameir 4:26; Chut Shani 240; Pesakim Uteshuvos ibid

[66] Pesakim Uteshuvos ibid

[67] Torah Lishma 268; Kiddushin 45b; Chut Shani 240:27; See Shut Rebbe Eliyahu Mizrachi 19; Pesakim Uteshuvos ibid footnote 537

[68] Sefer Chassidim 562

[69] See Maharsham 3:352-11; Morah Horim Ukevodam 3:33 in name of Rav Bentzion Aba haul; Sefer Ben Chacham 104 in name of Rav Elyashiv

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