THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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- AT WHAT AGE IS A "SERIS" NO LONGER CONSIDERED TO BE A MINOR?
OPINIONS: The conclusion of the Gemara is that, as Rebbi Yossi Ben Kiper
rules in the name of Rebbi Eliezer, a Seris who reaches "thirty days of the
twentieth year" is considered to be a Gadol.
- Most Rishonim explain this to mean that once a person who has Simonei
Seris reaches the age of 19 years and 30 days he is a Gadol.
- The RAMBAM (Hilchos Ishus 2:5) rules that once he reaches 30 days
before his 20th birthday, he is considered a Gadol. (The RA'AVAD
disagrees, contending that after 19 years and 30 days the Seris is a Gadol,
like the Rishonim mentioned above.)
The TUR suggests that there must be a printer's error in the text of the
Rambam, but the MISHNAH l'MELECH rejects this position. He points out that
the Rambam reiterates his ruling of 20 years less 30 days no less than
three times in the same chapter. The Acharonim therefore explain that it
is indeed possible to read into the words of the Gemara the Rambam's
ruling; when "thirty days are taken off of the twentieth year," the Seris
is a Gadol.
Why did the Rambam chose to understand the Gemara this way as opposed to
the seemingly more obvious way of the Ra'avad and the Rishonim? The BACH
(Even ha'Ezer 172:5) explains that the Rambam was bothered by the following
question: If the Gemara means 19 years and 30 days, because 30 days count
as an entire year, then why are 30 days necessary? One day should be
enough, since even one day into the last year is considered a year as the
Gemara rules in Rosh Hashanah (2b). The Rambam therefore explains the words
of the Gemara differently. (The Bach also shows that there are indeed
times where thirty days before a year is already considered the beginning
of the following year, e.g. it is forbidden to plant within 30 days of
Shevi'is. Thus, as of thirty days before the end of 20 years, it is as if
the twenty first year of the Seris has already started.)
- THE HALACHIC "SIGNS" OF MATURITY
Two pubic hairs are considered to be a sign, or "Siman," of maturity for
Halachic purposes. Before the growth of such hairs, a child is considered
to be a minor, since his mental capacity has not yet fully matured.
The growth of hair would not seem to be intrinsically associated with
mental maturity. Are the two hairs just a tell-tale, physical sign
indicating that the child if physically -- and therefore mentally --
developed? Or did the Torah (in the spirit of "Lo Pelug") stipulate that no
matter how well a child can think, he is not considered a "Bar Da'as"
unless he has two pubic hairs as well? (That is, are the hairs a sign of
Halachic maturity, or do they bring about Halachic maturity?)
- The MAHARIT (Teshuvah 1:51) writes that the growth of hairs does not
bring about Halachic maturity. They are merely signs that the child has
matured. The Maharit points out that this is consistent with the meaning of
the word "Siman," which Chazal use to describe the hairs.
This view is also evident from the words of RABBEINU CHANANEL (quoted by
the ROSH in Gitin 9:11), who writes that we do not have the insight to be
able to determine Halachic maturity based on the mental sharpness of a
child; therefore, we have to rely on the Simanim to determine when he has
matured. It may be inferred from his words that if we could determine the
sharpness of a child without having to rely on Simanim, the child would be
considered mature even before the Simanim grew in.
- However, the SHITAH MEKUBETZES (Bava Basra 56b, DH v'Li Ani) writes
that Simanim actually bring about the Halachic maturity of a child, and
they are not merely indicators of maturity.
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