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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 Vayeitzei

 

Halachos for children cont.

We were discussing the issue of preventing a child from performing an issur.

What is the halacha with regards to other peoples children?

The Mechaber [1] holds that only a childs father (and perhaps the mother) need educate his child but one is not obligated to educate another persons child. The Rama cites an opinion who holds that everyone is obligated to educate everybodys children. The Mishna Berura [2] sets the middle path with the Chayei Adam who says that one must prevent other peoples children from violating an issur doraisso but not an issur drabanan. Although it is advisable to teach other children as well that it is Shabbos today.

Accordingly, if one sees children in the street pulling leaves off a tree [3] one should tell them that it is ossur on Shabbos. If one sees children carrying sticks and stones to play with, since muktze is only an issur drabanan one is not obligated to educate them.

            Does it make a difference whether the child is about to do an issur for my benefit or for his?

            We find a very interesting halacha. The Shulchan Aruch [4] teaches us that if chas vsholom a fire is raging in a Jews property, and a gentile, on his own accord offers to extinguish the fire, one may permit him to extinguish the fire and he need not be prevented. The reason is because the gentile has remuneration in mind and it is therefore considered as if the gentile is doing it for his own benefit. [5]

In contrast, a child is not of an age to realize that extinguishing a fire will bring him personal benefit, rather his sole intent and purpose is to make his senior happy and therefore it is considered as if he is doing it for the parents or adults sake. [6]

            Does that mean that I must actually prevent him from extinguishing the fire?

            Yes it does, because it is as if you told him to extinguish the fire, which is obviously forbidden to do.

            Are we talking about ages of chinuch (education) or all ages?

            The Mishna Berura [7] says that this is not a matter of chinuch, rather it is a problem that a child is doing something for an adult and he realizes that this will please the adult.

            Does this apply to other cases as well?

            It certainly does. Whenever a child is about to do an issur in order to benefit an adult, that adult must prevent him from doing so. This is true with regards to turning on a light, turning on the air conditioner etc.

            Is there not a case in the gemora where someone dropped keys in the street in order for children to carry them?

            Indeed the gemora in Yevamos 114a [8] talks about a case where someone found the keys to the shul in the street on Shabbos, and he was told to tell children to play in the vicinity of the keys and hopefully they would spot the keys and take them home. However, the Mishna Berura [9] explicitly explains that the children must not think that the keys are someones they know and one may only permit them (i.e. not interfere) when they take them home thinking that they found keys to play with etc. but if they intend bringing to the person who lost them they must be prevented from carrying them home.

The father, adds the Mishna Berura, must prevent him whatever happens because of the obligation to educate ones child not to violate the Shabbos even with an issur drabanan.

The bottom line is that one may not allow a child to violate an issur for an adult. If the child is doing it for his own benefit, and it is an issur drabanan, and you are not the parent, there is much more leeway.

            Does the obligation to educate only apply to Hilchos Shabbos?

            Not at all. The obligation to educate ones child applies to all types of laws. The Mishna Berura says [10] that if a parent hears his child speaking lashon hara, unclean language etc. he must prevent and educate him from an early age that it is wrong and forbidden. He adds that if the child is permitted to speak whatever he wants at a young age it is very difficult to train him to guard his tounge at a later stage.

This applies to eating non-kosher foods, as mentioned in the last shiur, seeing things he is not supposed to, and everything else that a Jew must adhere to. The younger one starts to educate ones child the more inbred it is. On the whole, one should teach other children as well, yet the main role of education is up to the parents.

Am I obligated to make sure that my child hears havdalah?

            Chinuch education is a serious matter and parents are obligated to educate their children from a young age in the ways of the Torah.

The Mishan Berura writes [11] that there is no set age for chinuch because each child must be educated according to his individual comprehension. If a child is aware of the Shabbos he must listen to kiddush and havdalah. This probably means that the child realizes that Hashem created the world and rested on the 7th day and hence Shabbos is different from other days. [12] It does not suffice that the child knows how to say gut Shabbos, because a two year old can also say gut Shabbos but it is meaningless to him.

Accordingly, before commencing with the Shabbos meal, the parents must make sure that children of the appropriate age are present to listen to the kiddush.


[1] The onset of siman 343.

[2] Siman 343:7.

[3] Which might be a doraisso because they enjoy pulling off the leaves and are doing it for that purpose.

[4] Simon 334:25.

[5] MB simon 334:61.

[6] MB simon 334:65, in the name of the MA who cites the poskim.

[7] MB simon 334:64 in the name of Tosefos.

[8] Top of the amud.

[9] Simon 362:44. See inside the MB.

[10] Simon 343:3.

[11] MB simon 343:3.

[12] I say this for two reasons. A) the MB says that the child knows about the of Shabbos, not merely that today is Shabbos. B) The MB continues with the issue of Torah prohibitions and says that when a child understands that something is forbidden one must educate him and tell him that it is ossur. This implies that for positive mitzvos it is a much deeper comprehension.

 

Orchos Chaim LaRosh 

do not hurry to say something before weighing the words on the scale of your mind.

            A student of mine was scarred for many years by words of a teacher, where instead of giving her praise and hopes to grow; he basically told her that shell never make it in life. The ill-effects of such words are devastating, and it took tremendous effort on her teachers part and herself to outweigh that poison and make her believe in herself. Silence is golden and we must use our tongue to build, not to destroy. 


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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.