QUESTION: The Gemara tells us that Rav Huna's wife shaved the heads of his
children in a way that would transgress the Isur of Hakafas ha'Rosh had they
been adults. This implies that there no Isur d'Oraisa for a woman to shave
the head of a Katan. The Gemara makes a similar statement in Bava Metzia
(10b) when it says that a woman is not prohibited by the Torah to shave the
head of a Katan.
The Gemara states further that according to Rav Ada bar Ahavah, even an
adult man may shave the head of a Katan. His reasoning is that since the
Nikaf (the Katan) is not prohibited from shaving, so, too, the Makif is not
prohibited to shave him, as is derived from a Hekesh.
Why should it be permitted mid'Oraisa to shave the head of a Katan? The
Gemara in Yevamos (114a) teaches that it is prohibited to actively feed to a
Katan a food that is Asur. Similarly, the Gemara there cites another Beraisa
which says that an adult is not allowed to be Metamei a Katan who is a
Why, then, should it permitted for a man or a woman to shave the head of a
Katan? By doing so, he is causing the Katan to transgress the Isur d'Oraisa
of Hakafas ha'Rosh! It should be prohibited, just like feeding Neveilah to a
Katan or being Metamei him is prohibited! (Although the Gemara in Makos
(20b) says that if a person sits still and lets a barber shave his head he
is not punished with Malkus, it seems clear from the Sugya there that it is
nevertheless prohibited with a Lav. The Nikaf does not receive Malkus
because he did not do an active Ma'aseh. If, however, he moves his head,
doing a Ma'aseh, and helps the barber cut his hair, then he will receive
Malkus. See RA'AVAD and LECHEM MISHNEH in Hilchos Avodah Zarah 12:1, and
TOSFOS in Shevuos 3a.)
According to Rav Ada bar Ahavah, the question is not so difficult. The Torah
compares the Makif to the Nikaf and exempts the Makif from transgressing an
Isur. Hence, the act of shaving a Katan is a permitted act and is not the
same act as that of shaving an adult. Therefore, it might not be considered
an act of giving the Katan an Isur (SHA'AR HA'MELECH, REBBI AKIVA EIGER in
Yoreh Deah 181).
According to Rav Huna, though, the question remains. Rav Huna holds that
only a woman may shave the head of a Katan, but a man may not. Hence, he
holds that the act of shaving a Katan's head is prohibited. Why, then,
should it be permitted for a woman to do? It should be like feeding a Katan
an Isur and it should be prohibited! (MINCHAS CHINUCH, end of Mitzvah 251)
(a) The KEREN ORAH suggests that the Ketanim that our Gemara is discussing
are so young that they have not even reached the age of Chinuch for this
Mitzvah, and thus there is no Isur of feeding them an Isur.
The ARZEI HA'LEVANON, however, points out that the ROSH here (DH b'Ishah)
explains that the Ketanim in our Sugya are older and are nearing adulthood.
(b) The BEIS HA'LEVI (1:15) suggests that the Isur of feeding an Isur to a
Katan applies only when the person who is feeding the Katan is also
prohibited to that Isur. Thus, a woman -- who has no Isur of Hakafas
ha'Rosh -- is permitted to shave the head of a Katan.
The ACHI'EZER (3:81:7), though, rejects this based on logical grounds, and
based on the words of the Rosh in the beginning of Maseches Shabbos.
(c) Perhaps it is only prohibited to help a Katan perform an Isur when one
*trains* or *directs* a Katan to do an act that is prohibited for an adult
to do. The reason for the Isur to help a Katan perform an Isur is that one
thereby is Mechanech the child to do Aveiros. Therefore, when the Katan does
not do any action of his own, there is no Isur involved, since it is not
going to accustom the Katan to doing something that is Asur. We find a
similar concept in Tosfos (28b, DH B'no) who says that there is no Mitzvah
of Chinuch for a Mitzvah that involves no action on the Katan's part.
According to this approach, though, it should be prohibited for a woman to
shave the Katan when the Katan moves his head to assist her.