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Weekly Shabbos Halacha Series
Halachos Series on Hilchos Shabbos

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Published by
Pirchei Shoshanim

A Project of
The Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Written by

Rabbi Dovid
Ostroff, shlita

 

These Halachos were shown by Rabbi Ostroff to
HaGaon HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita

 

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Questions for the Week of Parshas Pinchas

Children and Issurim

May one instruct a child to violate the Shabbos?

The possuk says (Shmos 20:10) and Rashi explains that this possuk teaches that adults must ensure that children (under bar mitzvah age) adhere to the laws of Shabbos.

Does this mean that all adults must prevent children other than their own from violating Shabbos?

There is a difference between prevention - chinuch (teaching) and handing an issur or instructing to perform an issur. We will beH define each category.

Handing a child an issur doraisso

The possuk refers to instructing the performance of an issur or handing a child an issur. Although the possuk says your son and daughter, the halacha does not make a distinction and it is ossur for all people to hand an issur to a child.

We likewise find in the Rambam [1] that one may not give a child a non-kosher item, even if the child has no understanding. [2] This offence is of biblical nature. [3]

Consequently, instructing a child to turn on a light, cook food and sort items (borer) is ossur midoraisso and is surely not something lightly treated. [4]

Handing a child an issur drabanan

The Rambam writes that one may not hand a child an issur even if it is only ossur midrabanan and one may not get the child accustomed to violating Shabbos even with issurei drabanan. The Mishna Berura says [5] for example that one may not instruct a child to carry a key through a carmelis, even though it is only a reshus harabim drabanan.

On a side issue handing a child a non-kosher item of rabbinic nature cannot be an issur doraisso because biblically the item is not ossur. Yet the poskim discuss the issue of , placing an obstacle before another person, where the issur is the obstacle. It is possible that causing someone to violate an issur drabanan is an issur doraisso of , because an issur drabanan is also an obstacle. [6] 

A child acting on behalf of an adult

When a child is about to violate an issur on behalf of or for an adult, the adult must prevent the child from doing so.

For example, a child sees his father trying to read a sefer in the dark and walks towards the light switch to turn it on. The father is obligated midoraisso to prevent him from turning on the light. [7]

When a child is about to violate an issur doraisso for an adult other than his parent, that adult is rabbinically obligated to prevent the child from doing so. [8] We now see that the possuk  also refers to a child acting on behalf of a parent, even though the parent did not assign the child the issur or instruct him to violate it.

Preventing a child performing an issur

The Shulchan Aruch writes [9] that beis din (rabbinical court) is not obligated to prevent children from performing an issur, even an issur doraisso. In this case beis din refers to every Jewish adult, i.e. if one sees a Jewish child chas vshalom eating a cheeseburger one need not grab it from the child and prevent the consummation thereof.

The Rama, however says that there are opinions (Tosefos) who rule that adults are obligated to prevent children (that have reached chinuch age) from violating an issur (even children other than their own).

The Mishna Berura cites the Chayei Adam as presenting the following compromise: if a child is violating an issur doraisso all adults must prevent the child from violating an issur. If the child is violating an issur drabanan, only the parent must prevent the violation.

Test yourself:

  • You are walking in the street on Shabbos and you see an eight year boy old pulling leaves from a tree. Must you say something?
  • You see a gentile handing non-kosher gum to a child, are you permitted to remain silent?
  • You see a child carrying a tissue in a carmelis, are you supposed to say anything? [10]

Chinuch

The halacha differentiates between the age of chinuch and basic understanding. Chinuch with regards to performing mitzvos such as tzitzis, sukkah, lulav etc. is according to each child and his understanding. It is hard to determine the correct age for each mitzvah and each parent should evaluate their childs comprehension. [11]

The mitzvah of chinuch is on the father and some say the mother. [12]

As for issurim we mentioned two opinions, one opinion holds that prevention (which derives from chinuch) is only on the parents and others hold that everybody is obligated thereto. This age is different than chinuch age and when a child understands what forbidden means, he must be prevented from violating an issur. For example, a baby/child enjoys turning a light on and off. If when told that it is forbidden he/she ceases, then one must educate not to turn it on. Obviously reasoning in this case is not the issue; it is merely an act of prevention. If the child does not understand even that, prevention is not mandatory.


[1] Hilchos Maachalos Asuros 17:27.

[2] Shulchan Aruch HaRav simon 343:5, based on the MA.

[3] Shulchan Aruch HaRav ibid.

[4] See Shaar Hatsiun simon 344:54.

[5] Simon 343:6.

[6] It depends on whether is a stand-alone issur, in which case it might be an issur doraisso, or whether it is an intrinsic part of each issur, in which case it will only be a drabanan.

[7] Shaar Hatsiun simon 344:54.

[8] Shaar Hatsiun ibid.

[9] Simon 343.

[10] This case is more complicated, because when a child violates an issur drabanan for his own benefit the rule changes, as we will beH see.

[11] For certain mitzvos Chazal set the limit, for example Sukkah when a child does not need its mother.

[12] See MB 343:2.

 

Vort on the Parsha

The Slonimer Rebbe, the Nesivos Sholom, explains that the essence of mourning for the Beis ha Mikdash is not to come to terms with its destruction. Am Yisroel must continuously think about the Beis ha Mikdash and wish and hope for its reconstruction. The Rebbe from Kobrin would say that the worst is acceptance. To accept and come to terms with the fact that we can live without a Beis ha Mikdash is the greatest calamity, because as long as there is hope, it will eventually transpire, but when one gives up hope, all is lost.

Three times a day we pray for the rebuilding of Yerushalayim, which enhances the longing for the Beis ha Mikdash. The Beis Avrohom (Slonim) would say that longing for something is bigger than the thing itself and through longing for the Beis ha Mikdash Hashem will rebuild it.

It is during this three week period where we have the potential to broaden and increase our longing for the Beis ha Mikdash. May Hashem rebuild Yerushalayim and the Beis ha Mikdash bimheira vyameinu.

 

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Note:  The purpose of this series is intended solely for the clarification of the topics discussed and not to render halachic decisions. It is intended to heighten everyone's awareness of important practical questions which do arise on this topic.  One must consult with a proper halachic authority in order to receive p'sak.