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    Beating your wife – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Do husbands have a right in Jewish law to beat their wives?

    A. Decidedly not. According to the Talmud it is wrong just to raise your hand against another person even if you do not actually hit them (Sanh. 58b). The sages say that a husband must love his wife as himself and respect her more than himself (Yev. 62b; Sanh. 76b).

    Maimonides, who thinks (Hil’chot Ishut 21:10) a man is allowed to beat his wife in order to make her perform her duties, is trenchantly criticised by other authorities who say they have never heard of Jews indulging in beating their wives.

    A man who beats his wife is as guilty as anyone else who commits assault. The fact that she is his wife does not justify his treating her badly. If she brings him to the Beth Din they will order him to take a solemn oath not to do this ever again. If he disobeys the court can order him to be chastised and flogged and placed under a community stigma.

    The R’ma adds in his gloss to the Shulchan Aruch (Even Ha’Ezer 154:3) that wife-beating is not the custom of Jewish husbands but a heathen practice.

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