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WOLFE'S WORDSJune 14, 2007
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Patsh, Zetz and Klap
by: Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
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Benny sauntered into the classroom a half-hour late.
"Why are you so tardy?" asked the teacher.
"My father needed me at home."
"Couldn't your father have used someone else instead of you?"
"No," he answered. "I had to get a spanking."
(Source: "Joys of Jewish Humor" by Henry D. Spalding)

As a parent, I've heard all of these Yiddish expressions:

"A potsh fargeyt, a vort bashteyt."
(A slap passes, a word remains.)

"Oyb du muzt shlogn a kind, nuts di shnirl."
(If you must beat a child, use a string.)

"A klap iz laykhter tu bekumen vi tsu gebn."
(A blow is easier to receive than to give.)

"Fun a muter's klap, vert dem kind nit keyn lokh in kop."
(A mother's slap won't give a child a hole in the head.)

In a USA Today article by Del Jones, we learn that CEOs--as children--were paddled, belted, switched or swatted. About 20 CEOs were interviewed. None said they were abused, but many got a whack in the "toches."

GM CEO, Rick Wagoner, was hit in the fanny while growing up in Richmond, VA, but said he had it coming and that it probably had no influence on his life as a high achiever.

Dave Haffner, CEO at Leggett & Platt, said, "I received the belt ("der gartl") when I deserved it."

Among those who admitted that they had been spanked were Time Warner CEO, Richard Parsons, Shell Chemicals Executive VP, Fran Keeth, and Allant Energy Resources former CEO, Errol David.

Spanked female execs included Wal-Mart Chief Info. Officer, Linda Dillman. Sara Blakely was "spanked and spanked often." She would wear "alts" of her day-of-the-week underwear at the same time to soften "der klop" (the blow).

And New York's Rudolph Giuliana attended St. Anne's grammar school on Long Island (NY) and admitted that he was often hit by the nuns..." but I appreciated it, because they straightened me out."

About three fourths of the pediatricians reported having been spanked when they were kids. Approximately one half of U.S. pediatricians report being opposed generally to the use of corporal punishment. Corporal punishment includes pinching, spanking, paddling, shoving, slapping, shaking, hair pulling, choking, excessive exercise, confinement in closed spaces, and denial of access to "der klozet" (the toilet).

In a Fortune Magazine article by Betsy Morris about "Dyslexia," we read about four dead-end kids:

One was spanked by his teachers for bad grades and a poor attitude. He dropped out of school at 16. Another failed remedial English and came perilously close to flunking out of college. The third feared he'd never make it through school--and might not have without a tutor. The last finally learned to read in third grade, devouring Marvel comics...These four losers are respectively, Richard Branson, Charles Schwab, John Chambers, and David Boles. They were all dyslexic.

It has been found that spanking is less "efektiv" than time out or removal of privileges.

Gary Direnfeld, a child behavior "meyvin" and social worker, wrote, "Frustrated parents of young ("yung") children are yelling and spanking because they do not know other ("anderer") ways to get their children to mind their words Research shows, however, that yelling and spanking often creates new problems. Children who are continually shouted at or spanked tend to be more aggressive in the playground, have less developed problem-solving skills and lower self-esteem.

A bill to outlaw the spanking of small children in California was recently abandoned after its author, Assemblywoman Sally J. Lieber, conceded that it had little chance of passing. Many lawmakers felt that such a law would be intrusive and unenforceable. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had not taken a position on the bill but said that he and his wife, Maria Shriver, did not spank their four children.

What are the different forms of spanking?

Michael Wex ("Born to Kvetch") discusses the vocabulary of traditional punishments meted out to schoolchildren. The "knip" is a "pinch"; the "shel" is a "flick"; the "patzh" is a "slap"; the "zets" is a "hard slap"; and the "flem" is a "resounding smack." A "Khmalye" is an "all-out murder-one wallop."

Wex writes,

A "zets" is an honest, straightforward, Gary Cooper kind of whack

A "klap" jumps out from the side, or even sneaks up from behind the head so that the victim ("der korbn") doesn't see it coming

A "patsh" was more a means of focusing attention than an attempt to inflict real harm. Think of it as organic Ritalin.

"A "frask" is a powerful smack, still open-handed, the melamed's answer to the karate chop

If you've seen the Three Stooges, you've seen many a "shalsheles"

And in all of the above cases, "Altsding lozt zich ois mit a gevain"--Everything ends in weeping.

Caren Appel-Slingbaum ("The Tradition of Slapping Our Daughters") remembers that the first time she got her period, her mother slapped her across the face. It was more of a firm tap. She asked her mother what was going on, and was told that it was an old Jewish custom. (Perhaps its original purpose was to "slap sense" into a newly fertile girl, warning her not to disgrace the family by becoming pregnant out of wedlock.) A second explanation: Possibly it was to "awaken" her out of her childhood slumber and into her role as a Jewish woman.

Marjorie adheres to the Yiddish expression, "Strashe nit a kind; oder bashtroft im oder fargeb im." (Don't threaten a child; either punish him or forgive him.)


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