> Judaism 101 > Philosophy > Deed and Creed

9. Lashes: Barbaric or Humane?

April 27, 2014 | by Rochelle Lev and Rabbi Benjamin Blech

Jewish law regards jail as an inhumane punishment.


Required Reading Understanding Judaism, p. 79-100



(1) Explain the term 'stimulus response' and its relationship to the punishment of lashes.

(2) Why is jail considered by Judaism to be a cruel and ineffective method of punishment? What reasons does Rabbi Blech give for Judaism's stance that jail is an inhumane response to crime?

(3) What is the difference in the way a convict is treated by the community at the end of a sentence of malkut, as opposed to one who completed his sentence in jail?

(4) Give three incidences in the Torah where the number 40 is of significance. What do these examples teach us is the significance of the number 40?

(5) On Shabbat we are forbidden to do 39 categories of creative acts. What is the Talmud telling us when it communicates this by saying, "Do not do 40-minus-one categories of creative acts" on Shabbat?

(6) The Torah prescribes 40 lashes as the punishment of malkut. The oral law prescribes only 39. Why does the Oral tradition prescribe 39 lashes, rather than 40?

(7) What was the first mitzvah given to the Jewish people as a nation? What is the significance of this?

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