SECTION 616 At What Age Should Children Begin to Fast. (1–11)

סימן תרטז הַקְּטַנִּים מָתַי יַתְחִילוּ לְהִתְעַנּוֹת וּבוֹ י"א סְעִיפִים:

1 It was not ordained that children [are required to refrain from] any of the activities that are prohibited on Yom Kippur solely because they involve “affliction.” Accordingly, an adult is permitted to give a child food and drink, to anoint him, and to wash him – [but only] with cold water.

However, he may not wash his entire body with hot water, even if that water was heated before the beginning of Yom Kippur.1 [The rationale is that] washing in hot water is forbidden not only because of the mitzvah that one must afflict oneself, for washing with hot water is forbidden on all the Shabbasos throughout the year. As explained in sec. 326[:1], a [safeguard] was also ordained against [entering a] bathhouse [on Shabbos or on a festival]. (Since it was suspected that bathhouse attendants would heat water on Shabbos,2 [the Sages] forbade entering a bathhouse on Shabbos.) Hence it is forbidden [for an adult] to [bathe] a child [in hot water], just as it is forbidden to feed him by hand anything that is forbidden by Rabbinic ordinance, as stated in sec. 343[:5].

א כָּל הַדְּבָרִים הָאֲסוּרִים בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים מִשּׁוּם מִצְוַת עִנּוּי א בִּלְבַד ב – לֹא גָּזְרוּ עַל הַקְּטַנִּים, לְפִיכָךְ מֻתָּר לְגָדוֹל לְהַאֲכִיל אֶת הַקָּטָן ג וּלְהַשְׁקוֹתוֹ וּלְסוּכוֹ וּלְרָחְצוֹ ד בְּצוֹנֵן, אֲבָל לֹא יַרְחִיצֶנּוּ בְּחַמִּין ה כָּל גּוּפוֹ,ו אֲפִלּוּ הוּחַמּוּ מִבְּעוֹד יוֹם,1 שֶׁהָרְחִיצָה בְּחַמִּין אֵינָהּ אֲסוּרָה מִשּׁוּם מִצְוַת עִנּוּי בִּלְבַד, שֶׁהֲרֵי בְּכָל שַׁבְּתוֹת הַשָּׁנָה אָסוּר לִרְחֹץ בְּחַמִּין, אֶלָּא יֵשׁ בָּהּ גַּם מִשּׁוּם גְּזֵרַת מֶרְחָץ (פֵּרוּשׁ שֶׁהַבַּלָּנִים הֵם חֲשׁוּדִים לְהָחֵם מַיִם בְּשַׁבָּת,2 וּלְכָךְ אָסְרוּ לִכְנֹס לַמֶּרְחָץ בְּשַׁבָּת) כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן שכ"ו,ז וּלְפִיכָךְ אָסוּר לַעֲשׂוֹתָהּ לְקָטָן בְּיָדַיִם,ח כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָסוּר לְהַאֲכִילוֹ בְּיָדַיִם כָּל הָאִסּוּרִין שֶׁל דִּבְרֵיהֶם כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן שמ"ג:ט

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2 Similarly, an adult is forbidden to put [leather] shoes on a child.3 [The rationale is that] this is not a great affliction for a child, for a child does not really mind if he does not wear shoes.4 [The question of whether] an adult must reprimand a child who puts on shoes on his own initiative is explained in sec. 343[:1].5 Note [the explanation] there.

ב וְכֵן אָסוּר לְגָדוֹל לִנְעֹל אֶת הַסַּנְדָּל לַקָּטָן,י,3 לְפִי שֶׁאֵין זֶה עִנּוּי לְהַקָּטָן שֶׁאֵינוֹ חוֹשֵׁשׁ כָּל כָּךְ אִם לֹא יִנְעֹל,יא,4 אֲבָל אִם הַקָּטָן נוֹעֵל מֵעַצְמוֹ – אִם צָרִיךְ לִמְחוֹת בְּיָדוֹ נִתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן שמ"ג,יב,5 עַיֵּן שָׁם:

3 In the present era, when it is not customary to wash and anoint a child every day, refraining from washing and anointing him on Yom Kippur is not considered affliction at all. Hence a child should not be washed and anointed on Yom Kippur. This is the [prevailing] custom.6

ג וְעַכְשָׁו שֶׁאֵין נוֹהֲגִין לִרְחֹץ וְלָסוּךְ אֶת הַקָּטָן בְּכָל יוֹם, וְאֵין מְנִיעַת הָרְחִיצָה וְהַסִּיכָה בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים נֶחְשֶׁבֶת לוֹ לְעִנּוּי כְּלָל – אֵין לְרָחְצוֹ וּלְסוּכוֹ בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים. וְכֵן הוּא הַמִּנְהָג:יג,6

4 All of the above applies with regard to a young child who has not [matured and] reached an age at which he can be educated to observe the mitzvah of afflicting oneself [on Yom Kippur]. If he has reached an educable age, it is forbidden to give him food and drink, to anoint him, or to wash him oneself, as explained [above].

If [the child] performs any of these activities on his own initiative, no one except for his father is obligated to object to his doing so, for [only] a father is obligated to raise an objection to his [misconduct] and to educate his son in [the observance of] the mitzvos.7 His mother is not commanded to do this.8 Nevertheless, it is forbidden for her to place food before him, because that is equivalent to feeding him by hand.

ד וְכָל זֶה בְּקָטָן שֶׁלֹּא הִגִּיעַ לְחִנּוּךְ מִצְוַת עִנּוּי,יד אֲבָל אִם הִגִּיעַ לְחִנּוּךְ – אָסוּר לְהַאֲכִילוֹ טו וּלְהַשְׁקוֹתוֹ וּלְסוּכוֹ וּלְרָחְצוֹ טז בְּיָדַיִם וְעַל דֶּרֶךְ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר.יז וְאִם הוּא מֵעַצְמוֹ עוֹשֶׂה אֶחָד מִדְּבָרִים אֵלּוּ – אֵין צָרִיךְ לִמְחוֹת בְּיָדוֹ, חוּץ מֵאָבִיו שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לִמְחוֹת בְּיָדוֹ וּלְחַנֵּךְ אֶת בְּנוֹ בְּמִצְווֹת,יח,7 אֲבָל אִמּוֹ אֵינָהּ מְצֻוָּה עַל כָּךְ,יט,8 אֲבָל מִכָּל מָקוֹם אָסוּר לָהּ לִתֵּן לְפָנָיו לֶאֱכֹל, דַּהֲרֵי זֶה כְּאִלּוּ מַאֲכִילָתוֹ בְּיָדַיִם:כ

5 How should a child be educated [in the observance of this mitzvah]?9 A healthy boy who is a full nine years of age (i.e., he [reached his ninth birthday] before Yom Kippur10), or who is ten years old, even if he is frail and weak, should be trained [to fast] hour by hour, progressively. This is a Rabbinic obligation.11

What is implied? If he normally eats at 8 AM,12 he should be given food [no earlier than] at 9 AM. If he normally eats at 9, he should be given food [no earlier than] at 10. Hours of affliction are added according to the son’s strength.13

Similar principles apply with regard to a healthy daughter who is nine years old14 or one who is ten, even if she is not robust.

ה וְכֵיצַד הוּא חִנּוּכוֹ? כא,9 קָטָן הַבָּרִיא כב בֶּן תֵּשַׁע שָׁנִים כג שְׁלֵמוֹת כד (פֵּרוּשׁ כה שֶׁנִּשְׁלְמוּ לוֹ תֵּשַׁע שָׁנִים לִפְנֵי יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים),10 אוֹ בֶּן עֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים כו שְׁלֵמוֹת אֲפִלּוּ הוּא כָּחוּשׁ וּתְשׁוּשׁ כֹּחַ כז – מְחַנְּכִין אוֹתוֹ לְשָׁעוֹת מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים.11 כֵּיצַד? אִם הָיָה רָגִיל לֶאֱכֹל בִּשְׁתֵּי שָׁעוֹת עַל הַיּוֹם12 – מַאֲכִילִין אוֹתוֹ בְּשָׁלֹשׁ, הָיָה רָגִיל לֶאֱכֹל בְּשָׁלֹשׁ – מַאֲכִילִין אוֹתוֹ בְּאַרְבַּע,כח לְפִי כֹּחַ הַבֵּן מוֹסִיפִין לְעַנּוֹת אוֹתוֹ בְּשָׁעוֹת.כט,13 וְכֵן הַדִּין בִּקְטַנָּה הַבְּרִיאָה אִם הִיא בַּת ט' שָׁנִים שְׁלֵמוֹת,14 אוֹ בַּת עֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים שְׁלֵמוֹת אֲפִלּוּ אֵינָהּ בְּרִיאָה:ל

6 A child who is a full eleven years of age, whether male or female, should complete the fast [on Yom Kippur].15 [This is] a Rabbinic ordinance that was instituted in order to train them in [the observance of] the mitzvos.

Some authorities, however, maintain that even girls who are a full eleven years of age and boys who are a full twelve years of age are under no obligation whatever — even Rabbinic — to complete [the fast]. Instead, they should be trained to fast by hourly stages, as explained above. [Their rationale is that] since this training is only a Rabbinic ordinance,16 the Sages did not wish to be stringent and require that [children] fast until nightfall; it is sufficient that they be trained [to fast] by hourly stages, according to their strength.

Though primacy is given to the first opinion, if a child is frail and weak, and not strong enough to bear the fast, one may rely on the latter view. He may be given food even if completing the fast involves no risk.

ו בֶּן י"א שָׁנִים לא שְׁלֵמוֹת,לב בֵּין זָכָר וּבֵין נְקֵבָה לג – מִתְעַנִּין וּמַשְׁלִימִין15 מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים, כְּדֵי לְחַנְּכָן בְּמִצְווֹת.

וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים לד שֶׁאֲפִלּוּ בְּנוֹת י"א שָׁנִים שְׁלֵמוֹת וּבֵן זָכָר בֶּן י"ב שָׁנִים שְׁלֵמוֹת אֵינָן צְרִיכִין לְהַשְׁלִים כְּלָל אֲפִלּוּ מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים, אֶלָּא מְחַנְּכִין אוֹתָן לְשָׁעוֹת וְעַל דֶּרֶךְ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר,לה דְּכֵיוָן שֶׁהַחִנּוּךְ אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים לו,16 – לֹא רָצוּ חֲכָמִים לְהַחְמִיר עֲלֵיהֶם כָּל כָּךְ שֶׁיִּתְעַנּ[וּ] עַד הַלַּיְלָה, וְדַי לָהֶם בְּחִנּוּךְ שָׁעוֹת לְפִי כֹּחָם.

וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהָעִקָּר כַּסְּבָרָא הָרִאשׁוֹנָה, מִכָּל מָקוֹם בְּנַעַר שֶׁהוּא כָּחוּשׁ וּתְשׁוּשׁ כֹּחַ וְאֵינוֹ חָזָק לִסְבֹּל הַתַּעֲנִית – יֵשׁ לִסְמֹךְ עַל סְבָרָא הָאַחֲרוֹנָה,לז וּמֻתָּר לְהַאֲכִילוֹ לח אַף שֶׁאֵין שׁוּם חֲשַׁשׁ סַכָּנָה אִם יַשְׁלִים:לט

7 Just as [a child] is trained, as explained above, [to observe] the prohibitions against eating and drinking by hourly stages and [ultimately] to complete [the fast], so, too, he should be trained [to observe] the prohibitions against washing and anointing oneself. This is a Talmudic requirement, not only a matter of custom.

ז וּכְדֶרֶךְ שֶׁמְּחַנְּכִין אוֹתָן בְּאִסּוּר אֲכִילָה וּשְׁתִיָּה הֵן לְשָׁעוֹת וְהֵן לְהַשְׁלִים וּכְמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר – כָּךְ צָרִיךְ לְחַנְּכָ[ן] בְּאִסּוּר רְחִיצָה וְסִיכָה מ אֲפִלּוּ מִדִּין הַתַּלְמוּד מא וְלֹא מֵחֲמַת הַמִּנְהָג בִּלְבַד:מב

8 Once a male who is a full thirteen years of age and a female who is a full twelve years of age have manifested signs of physical maturity,17 they are considered as adults with regard to [the observance of] all the mitzvos18 and are obligated by Scriptural Law to complete the fast. If they [have reached this age but] have not manifested signs of physical maturity, they are still considered as minors, and Scriptural Law does not obligate them to complete the fast. However, according to the first — and primary — view cited above, they are obligated to complete the fast by Rabbinic Law.

[Moreover, in this instance,] even in the case of a boy who is frail and weak it is not appropriate to rely on the latter and more lenient view cited above. Once a boy is fully thirteen years of age, the possibility must be considered that he has produced signs of physical maturity, but they are no longer present.19 [This surmise is reasonable, because a child] commonly manifests signs of physical maturity as soon as he turns thirteen, and if so, his obligation to complete the fast could possibly be of Scriptural authority.

Even if he completes his thirteenth year on Yom Kippur itself, i.e., Yom Kippur was his birthday, he is obligated to complete [the fast] even if he is frail and weak, because he [is considered to have] completed his thirteenth year when the beginning of the night of Yom Kippur arrives.20 Thus it is possible that he manifested signs of physical maturity on Yom Kippur, but they disappeared on that day — and whenever a Scriptural [obligation] is in the balance, the more stringent approach is to be followed.

ח בֶּן י"ג שָׁנִים שְׁלֵמוֹת וּנְקֵבָה בַּת י"ב שְׁלֵמוֹת, אִם הֵבִיאוּ שְׁתֵּי שְׂעָרוֹת17 – הֲרֵי הֵם כִּגְדוֹלִים לְכָל הַמִּצְווֹת מג,18 וְחַיָּבִים לְהַשְׁלִים הַתַּעֲנִית מִן הַתּוֹרָה,מד אֲבָל אִם עֲדַיִן לֹא הֵבִיאוּ שְׁתֵּי שְׂעָרוֹת – עֲדַיִן הֵן קְטַנִּים וְאֵין חַיָּבִין לְהַשְׁלִים מִן הַתּוֹרָה, אֲבָל חַיָּבִים לְהַשְׁלִים מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים מה לְפִי סְבָרָא הָרִאשׁוֹנָה שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ מו שֶׁהִיא עִקָּר.

וַאֲפִלּוּ בְּנַעַר שֶׁהוּא כָּחוּשׁ וְתַשׁ כֹּחַ – אֵין לְהָקֵל לִסְמֹךְ עַל סְבָרָא הָאַחֲרוֹנָה שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ, דְּכֵיוָן שֶׁעָבְרוּ לוֹ י"ג שָׁנִים אָנוּ חוֹשְׁשִׁין שֶׁמָּא הֵבִיא כְּבָר שְׁתֵּי שְׂעָרוֹת וְנָשְׁרוּ,מז,19 לְפִי שֶׁדֶּרֶךְ הוּא לְהָבִיא שְׁתֵּי שְׂעָרוֹת מִיָּד אַחַר י"ג שָׁנִים,מח וְאִם כֵּן הֲרֵי יֵשׁ כָּאן סָפֵק שֶׁמָּא הוּא חַיָּב לְהַשְׁלִים מִן הַתּוֹרָה.מט

וַאֲפִלּוּ נִשְׁלְמוּ לוֹ הַי"ג שָׁנִים בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים עַצְמוֹ שֶׁנּוֹלַד בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים – אַף עַל פִּי כֵן חַיָּב לְהַשְׁלִים, אֲפִלּוּ הוּא כָּחוּשׁ וְתַשׁ כֹּחַ,נ לְפִי שֶׁבִּתְחִלַּת כְּנִיסַת לֵיל יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים כְּבָר נִשְׁלְמוּ לוֹ י"ג שָׁנִים,נא,20 וְיֵשׁ לָחֹשׁ שֶׁמָּא הֵבִיא שְׁתֵּי שְׂעָרוֹת בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים וְנָשְׁרוּ בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים,נב וְכָל סָפֵק שֶׁל תּוֹרָה הוֹלְכִין בּוֹ לְהַחְמִיר:

9 When does the above apply? With regard to Yom Kippur, when [the obligation to fast] is of Scriptural origin. On other fastdays,21 which are of Rabbinic origin alone, [a child] need not fast unless it is known that he has manifested signs of physical maturity.

ט בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים? בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים שֶׁהוּא מִן הַתּוֹרָה, אֲבָל בִּשְׁאָר תַּעֲנִיּוֹת21 שֶׁאֵינָן אֶלָּא מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים – אֵין צְרִיכִין לְהִתְעַנּוֹת אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן יָדוּעַ שֶׁהֵבִיאוּ שְׁתֵּי שְׂעָרוֹת:נג

10 When a child is less than nine full years of age, he should not be required to afflict himself on Yom Kippur. Even if a child seeks to undertake the stringency [of refraining from eating], he should be reprimanded, lest he endanger himself.

י קָטָן שֶׁהוּא פָּחוֹת מִבֶּן תֵּשַׁע שָׁנִים שְׁלֵמוֹת – אֵין מְעַנִּין אוֹתוֹ בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים.נד וַאֲפִלּוּ אִם הַקָּטָן רוֹצֶה לְהַחְמִיר עַל עַצְמוֹ – מוֹחִין בְּיָדוֹ,נה כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יָבוֹא לִידֵי סַכָּנָה:נו

11 At present we are not particular that a child who is eleven full years of age should fast, because today all [children] study, and the [study of] Torah weakens them.22 In this context, therefore, they are not considered robust and, as explained above,23 whenever a child is not robust, he does not have to complete [the fast], because we can rely on the second opinion cited. Moreover, in the present age, after “weakness descended to the world,”24 it may be assumed that a child is not considered robust in this regard unless it is known that he is healthy and strong enough to bear [the fast].

יא מַה שֶּׁאֵין מְדַקְדְּקִים עַכְשָׁו שֶׁיִּתְעַנֶּה קָטָן כְּשֶׁהוּא בֶּן י"א שָׁנִים שְׁלֵמוֹת, לְפִי שֶׁהַכֹּל לוֹמְדִים עַכְשָׁו נז וְהַתּוֹרָה מַתֶּשֶׁת כֹּחָם נח,22 וּלְכָךְ אֵינָן חֲשׁוּבִין כִּבְרִיאִין לְעִנְיָן זֶה, וּכְבָר נִתְבָּאֵר נט,23 שֶׁכָּל שֶׁאֵינוֹ בָּרִיא אֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לְהַשְׁלִים לְפִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ לִסְמֹךְ עַל סְבָרָא הָאַחֲרוֹנָה שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ, וְעוֹד דְּבַזְּמַן הַזֶּה שֶׁיָּרְדָה חֻלְשָׁה לָעוֹלָם ס,24 מִן הַסְּתָם כָּל קָטָן אֵינוֹ נֶחְשָׁב כְּבָרִיא לְעִנְיָן זֶה,סא אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן יָדוּעַ שֶׁהוּא בָּרִיא וְחָזָק לִסְבֹּל: