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Those who are cruel to the kind, are kind to the cruel. I heard it was stated in the Talmud, but not able to find it. Thoughts?

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  • It might have been someone trying to explain the concept of corporal punishment with your young children. – Yaacov Deane Feb 26 at 18:20
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    I know this is said in the context of Saul’s mercy on Agag yet cruelty toward David, but I can’t remember where specifically it’s said. – DonielF Feb 26 at 18:37
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Midrash Tanchuma Parashat Metsora

R. Eleazar said, “Anyone who becomes merciful upon the cruel one will end by being cruel to the merciful: It is written (I Samuel 15:9), ‘But Saul had pity upon Agag and upon the best of the sheep and the cattle’; and it is [also] written (I Samuel 22:19) about Nob the city of priest, ‘And he smote Nob the city of priests with the edge of the sword.’

https://www.sefaria.org/Midrash_Tanchuma%2C_Metzora.1.1?with=all&lang=bi

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Pretty much identical to the above but said elsewhere by someone else....

In Koheles Rabbah 7:16:

רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן לָקִישׁ אוֹמֵר, כָּל מִי שֶׁנַּעֲשָׂה רַחְמָן בֵּמְקוֹם אַכְזָרִי, סוֹף שֶׁנַּעֲשָׂה אַכְזָרִי בִּמְקוֹם רַחֲמָן, וּמִנַּיִן שֶׁנַּעֲשָׂה אַכְזָרִי בִּמְקוֹם רַחְמָן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמואל א כב, יט): וְאֶת נֹב עִיר הַכֹּהֲנִים הִכָּה לְפִי חֶרֶב, וְלֹא תְהֵא נֹב כְּזַרְעוֹ שֶׁל עֲמָלֵק

Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said - All those who are merciful in a place of cruelty, in the end they are being cruel in a place of mercy. And from where do we know that one makes themselves cruel in a place of mercy - as it says (Shmuel I 22:19) "And Nov, the city of Kohanim , he smote by the sword" and Nov shall not be like the seed of Amalek.

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