Prison Vs. Flogging
Growing up in England, corporal punishment by schoolteachers was considered perfectly ordinary. I recall having my hand slapped with a ruler on several occasions, and when I once (at the age of ten) committed the severe infraction of running on the school lawn, the headmaster walloped my backside with a gym shoe!
Today, such corporal punishment by teachers is unthinkable. And in Israel, it is illegal even for parents to ever use corporal punishment on their children!
This is a powerful example of the transient nature of morality discussed in yesterday's post. It came to mind when a reader sent me this fascinating and thoughtful article about flogging vs. imprisonment. The author, a non-Orthodox professor of Jewish studies, is commenting upon a new book that argues for a return to the system of flogging in place of the failed system of imprisonment. He notes that he was initially horrified, but then realized that it was only his cultural bias that caused him to react in that way. The Torah, and Chazal, clearly supported the practice of flogging, and he concludes that it might well be appropriate to bring it back.
All I can say is that I never ran on the school lawn again!