Every1 father is obligated to train his young children2 in the practice of all the mitzvos, both Biblical mitzvos, and mitzvos that are Rabbinically ordained. They should be trained to do each mitzvah, in accordance with his or her intelligence. It is also his obligation to prevent them from doing any forbidden act,3 as is said in the Scriptures, "Train a child in the way he should go,"4 etc. If words are of no avail, you should chastise him with a rod, or the like. But you should not strike him severely as some fools do; a wise person will act intelligently. It is especially important to watch that they tell no lies,5 and to train them to speak the truth, and to avoid oaths. The above things are mandatory upon fathers as well as teachers.


כָּל אָב, חַיָב לְחַנֵּךְ אֶת בָּנָיו הַקְּטַנִּים בְּכָל הַמִצְוֹת, בֵּין בְּמִצְוָה דְאוֹרָיְתָא בֵּין בְּמִצְוָה דְרַבָּנָן, כָּל מִצְוָה וּמִצְוָה לְפִי דַעַת הַקָּטָן וְהַקְּטַנָּה. וְכֵן לְהַפְרִישָׁם מִכָּל דְּבַר אִסּוּר, כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב, חֲנֹךְ לַנַּעַר עַל פִּי דַרְכּוֹ וְגוֹ'. וְאִם לֹא יִוָּסֵר בִּדְבָרִים, יַכֵּהוּ בַּשֵּׁבֶט וְכַדּוֹמֶה, אֲבָל לֹא יַכֵּהוּ מַכּוֹת אַכְזָרִיוֹת כְּמוֹ הַשּׁוֹטִים. וְכָל עָרוּם יַעֲשֶֹה בְדָעַת. וּבְיוֹתֵר צְרִיכִים לְהַשְׁגִּיחַ עֲלֵיהֶם שֶׁלֹּא יְדַבְּרוּ שְׁקָרִים, וּלְלַמֵּד לְשׁוֹנָם דִּבְרֵי אֱמֶת, וּלְהַרְחִיקָם מִן הַשְּׁבוּעוֹת (עַיֵּן לְעֵיל סִימָן סז סָעִיף ט). וּדְבָרִים אֵלּוּ מֻטָּלִים עַל הָאָבוֹת וְעַל הַמְלַמְּדִים.


The time for training a child in the performance of positive commandments is set for each child according to his wisdom and understanding. For example, when he knows the significance of Shabbos, it is his duty6 to hear kiddush and havdalah, and other similar things. Training the child to keep the prohibitive commandments, whether Biblical or Rabbinical, applies to every child, who understands when he is told that something is forbidden to do or forbidden to eat.7 Young children should be trained to answer Amein in the synagogue, and to participate in other aspects of synagogue prayer. From the time a child answers Amein [to a berachah] he has a share in the World to Come.8 They must be trained to behave in the synagogue with awe and reverence. Children who run about to and fro, and disturb the prayers, should not be brought to the synagogue.9


הַגָּעַת זְמַן הַחִנּוּךְ לְמִצְוֹת עֲשֵׂה, הִיא בְּכָל תִּינוֹק לְפִי חָכְמָתוֹ וַהֲבָנָתוֹ. כְּגוֹן הַיּוֹדֵעַ מֵעִנְיַן שַׁבָּת, חַיָב לִשְׁמוֹעַ קִדּוּשׁ וְהַבְדָּלָה, וְכֹל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָזֶה. וְהַחִנּוּךְ בְמִצְוַת לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה, בֵּין בִּדְאוֹרַיְתָא בֵּין בִּדְרַבָּנָן, הוּא בְּכָל תִּינוֹק שֶׁהוּא בַר הֲבָנָה שֶׁמֵּבִין כְּשֶׁאוֹמְרִים לוֹ שֶׁזֶּה אָסוּר לַעֲשׂוֹת אוֹ אָסוּר לֶאֱכוֹל. וְיֵשׁ לְחַנֵּךְ הַקְּטַנִּים שֶׁיַעֲנוּ בְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת אָמֵן וּשְׁאָר הַדְבָרִים. וּמִשָּׁעָה שֶׁהַתִּינוֹק עוֹנֶה אָמֵן, יֵשׁ לוֹ חֵלֶק לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. וּצְרִיכִים לְחַנְּכָם שֶׁיַעַמְדוּ בְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת בְּאֵימָה וּבְיִרְאָה. אֲבָל אוֹתָן שֶׁהֵם רָצִים וְשָׁבִים וּמְבַלְבְּלִים, מוּטָב שֶלֹּא לַהֲבִיאָם.


Even one who is not the father of the child is forbidden10 to give him11 forbidden food to eat, or to tell him to do something that is forbidden. According to most poskim, it is forbidden to give him food that is Rabbinically prohibited, or to command him to do something that is Rabbinically prohibited. If the child is somewhat ill and must eat forbidden food, he may be fed by a non-Jew with food which was forbidden only by Rabbinic Law.


אֲפִלּוּ מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ אָבִיו שֶל קָטָן, אָסוּר לוֹ שֶׁיִתֵּן לוֹ דְּבַר אִסוּר לְאָכְלוֹ, אוֹ לְצוֹצוֹ, שֶׁיַעֲשֶׂה אֵיזֶה אִסּוּר. וּלְרֹב הַפּוֹסְקִים אֲפִלּוּ דָבָר הָאָסוּר רַק מִדְּרַבָּנָן, אָסוּר לִתֵּן לוֹ לֶאֱכוֹל אוֹ לְצַוּוֹתוֹ שֶׁיַעֲשֶׂה. וְאִם הַתִּינוֹק חוֹלֶה קְצָת וְצָרִיךְ לֶאֱכוֹל דְּבַר אִסּוּר, יֵשׁ לְהַתִּיר לָתֵת לוֹ עַל יְדֵי גוֹי דָבָר שֶׁאֵינוֹ אָסוּר רַק מִדְּרַבָּנָן. (וּלְעִנְיָן חָמֵץ בַּפֶּסַח, עַיֵן בְּהִלְכוֹת פֶּסַח).


Something which is not forbidden in and of itself, but is forbidden because of the special day, is not included in the mitzvoh of training. Therefore, it is permitted to give a child food, to eat before kiddush even though it is your duty, to train him to make kiddush, but it is forbidden to give him food [to eat] outside the sukkah. Only (in cases like) not eating before kiddush, which is similar to a negative commandment, since it is forbidden to eat before kiddush, is the law more lenient; but where a violation of a positive command is involved, it is forbidden to give it to him.


דָּבָר שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ אִסּוּר מִצַּד עַצְמוֹ אֶלָּא שֶׁהַיוֹם גּוֹרֵם, אֵין בּוֹ מִצְוַת חִנּוּךְ. וּלְפִיכָךְ מֻתָּר לִתֵּן לְתינוֹק לֶאֱכֹל קֹדֶם קִדּוּשׁ, אַף עַל גַּב דְּחַיָב לְחַנְּכוֹ בְּקִדּוּשׁ. אֲבָל אָסוּר לִתֵּן לוֹ לֶאֱכֹל חוּץ לַסֻּכָּה. דְּדַוְקָא בַּקִּדּוּשׁ שֶׁהוּא כְּמוֹ אִסּוּר לָאו, שֶׁאָסוּר לֶאֱכֹל קֹדֶם קִדּוּשׁ, בָּזֶה קִיל. אֲבָל לַעֲבוֹר עַל עֲשֵׂה, אָסוּר לִתֵּן לוֹ.


It is forbidden to tell a child even if he is under the age of nine, to carry anything out on Shabbos, even for the purpose of doing a mitzvah, like taking a Siddur (prayer book) or a Chumash (Bible) to the synagogue, or similar things.12


אָסוּר לִתֵּן לְתִינוֹק, אֲפִלּוּ הוּא פָחוֹת מִתֵּשַׁע שָׁנִים, שֶׁיּוֹצִיא אֵיזֶה דָבָר בַּשַׁבָּת אֲפִלּוּ לְצֹרֶךְ מִצְוָה, כְּגוֹן סִדּוּר וְחֻמָּשׁ לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת וְכַדּוֹמֶה (תְּשׁוּבוֹת רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא אֵיגֶר סִימָן טו, עַיֵן שָׁם).


If a child steals something, if it is still intact, you are obligated to return it; but if it is no longer intact, he is legally exempt from making restitution even after he becomes of age. But in order to fulfill his obligation before the judgement in Heaven, he must make restitution when he becomes of age. Similarly, if he committed other sins in his youth [before Bar Mitzvah], it is advisable that he accept upon himself some sort of repentance when he reaches an age of understanding. Concerning this it is said, "For the soul to be without knowledge is not good."13


קָטֹן שֶׁגָּנַב אֵיזֶה דָבָר, אִם הוּא בְעָיִן, מְחֻיָבִין לְהַחֲזִירוֹ. וְאִם אֵינוֹ בְעָיִן, פָּטוּר מִדִינֵי אָדָם אַף לְאַחַר שֶׁיִגְדַּל. אַךְ לָצֵאת יְדֵי שָׁמַיִם, חַיָב לְשַׁלֵם כְּשֶׁיִגְדָּל. וְכֵן אִם עָשָׂה שְׁאָר עֲבֵרוֹת בְקַטְנוּתוֹ כְּשֶׁהוּא בַּר הֲבָנָה, טוֹב שֶׁיְקַבֵּל עָלָיו אֵיזֶה דָבָר לִתְשׁוּבָה. וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר, גַּם בְּלֹא דַעַת נֶפֶשׁ לֹא טוֹב.


You should not threaten a child that you will hit him after a while, but if you see him misbehave, either hit him at once or ignore it. A story is told about a child who ran away from school, and his father threatened to hit him.14 The child committed suicide. Our Rabbis, of blessed memory, said,15 In dealing with your impulse, your child or your wife; your left hand should repel [reject] and your right hand should bring near [accept]. You should not threaten a child with an unclean object.16


לֹא יְאַיֵם עַל הַתִּינוֹק שֶׁיַכֵּהוּ לְאַחַר זְמָן. אֶלָּא אִם רוֹאֵהוּ עוֹשֶׂה אֵיזֶה מַעֲשֶׂה, יַכֵּהוּ מִיָד אוֹ יִשְׁתֹּק לְגַמְרֵי. מַעֲשֶׂה בְּתִינוֹק שֶׁבָּרַח מִבֵּית הַסֵּפֶר, וְהִפְחִידוֹ אָבִיו שֶׁיַכֵּהוּ, הָלַךְ הַתִּינוֹק וְהֵמִית אֶת עַצְמוֹ (מַסֶּכֶת שְׂמָחוֹת פֶרֶק שֵנִי). אָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה, יֵצֶר, תִּינוּק, וְאִשָּׁה, תְּהֵא שְׂמֹאל דּוֹחָה וְיָמִין מְקָרֶבֶת. לֹא יַעֲשֶׂה מוֹרָא לְתִינוֹק בְּדָבָר טָמֵא (כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתַבְתִּי לְעֵיל סִימָן לג סָעִיף יד)


Halachically, it is permitted to allow a Jewish child to be nursed by a gentile woman. Nevertheless, if it is possible to have him nurse from a Jewess, you should not let him nurse from a gentile, for it dulls the spiritual sensitivities of the heart, and causes bad temperament. Also, a Jewish woman who is nursing and must eat forbidden foods as a remedy for illness, if possible, she should not nurse the child on those days.


מִדִּינָא, מֻתָּר לְתִינוֹק יִשְֹרָאֵל לִינֹק מִגּוֹיָה (וְעַיֵּן לְקַמָּן סִימָן קסז סָעִיף יח). מִכָּל מָקוֹם אִם אֶפְשָׁר עַל יְדֵי יִשְֹרָאֵלית, לֹא יַנִּחוּהוּ לִינֹק מִגּוֹיָה, מִשּׁוּם דִּמְטַמְטֵם אֶת הַלֵּב וּמוֹלִיד מֶזֶג רָע. וְכֵן מֵינֶקֶת יִשְֹרָאֵלית שֶׁצְּרִיכָה לֶאֱכֹל מַאַכְלֵי אִסּוּר לִרְפוּאָה, אִם אֶפְשָׁר, לֹא תֵנִיק בַּיָמִים הָהֵם אֶת הַתִּינוֹק.


Every father is obligated to teach his son Torah, as it is said, "And you shall teach them to your children to speak of them."17 Just as it is a mitzvah to teach your son, so too it is a mitzvah to teach your son's son, as it is said,18 "And you shall make them known to your sons and to your son's son.19


כָּל אָב, מְחֻיָּב לְלַמֵּד אֶת בְּנוֹ תּוֹרָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, וְלִמַּדְתֶּם אֹתָם אֶת בְּנֵיכֶם לְדַבֵּר בָּם. וּכְשֵׁם שֶׁמִּצְוָה לְלַמֵּד אֶת בְּנוֹ, כָּךְ מִצְוָה לְלַמֵּד אֶת בֶּן בְּנוֹ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, וְהוֹדַעְתָּם לְבָנֶיךָ וְלִבְנֵי בָנֶיךָ.


As soon as the child begins to talk, you should teach him (the verse), "The Torah that Moses has commanded us is a heritage for the community of Jacob,"20 and, also the verse of Shema Yisrael21 etc. (However you must be very careful that the child is clean when you are teaching him.) Likewise you should teach him other verses little by little, until he is strong enough to attend school, at which time you should engage a teacher for him. You should be careful to choose a teacher who is God-fearing, in order that he accustom the child from his youth to be God-fearing. When the child has advanced to the study of the Scriptures, it is customary to begin teaching him the Sidrah of Vayikra, which is the Sidrah containing the laws of sacrificial offerings, for our Sages of blessed memory said, Let those who are pure (the children) come and engage in the study of purity.22


מִיָד כְּשֶׁהַתִּינוֹק מַתְחִיל לְדַבֵּר, יְלַמְּדוֹ הַפָּסוּק תּוֹרָה צִוָּה לָנוּ משֶׁה מוֹרָשָׁה וְגוֹ', וְכֵן פָּסוּק שְׁמַע יִשְֹרָאֵל וְגוֹ' (רַק יִזָּהֵר מְאֹד שֶׁיְהֵא הַתִּינוֹק נָקִי בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁהוּא מְלַמֵּד אוֹתוֹ) (עַיֵן לְעֵיל סִימָן ה סָעִיף ג). וְכֵן מְלַמְּדוֹ מְעַט מְעַט אֵיזֶה פְסוּקִים עַד שֶׁיַגִּיעַ בְכֹחוֹ לָלֶכֶת אֶל בֵּית הַסֵפֶר, וְאָז ישְׂכֹּר לוֹ מְלַמֵּד. וִידַקְדֵּק לִבְחוֹר מְלַמֵּד שֶׁהוּא יְרֵא שָמַיִם, לְמַעַן יַרְגִּיל אֶת הַתִּינוֹק מִנְעוּרָיו בְּיִרְאַת שָׁמָיִם. וּכְשֶׁהִגִיעַ הַתִּינוֹק לִלְמֹד מִקְרָא, נוֹהֲגִין לְהַתְחִיל עִמּוֹ פָּרָשָׁת וַיִקְרָא, שֶׁהִיא פָּרָשַׁת הַקָּרְבָּנוֹת, דְּאָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה, יָבוֹאוּ טְהוֹרִים (דְהַיְנוּ תִּינוֹקוֹת שֶׁל בֵּית רַבָּן) וְיַעַסְקוּ בַּטְּהוֹרִים.


The teacher must teach the children the entire day and part of the evening, in order to train them to study Torah by day and by night. He must not interrupt the childrens' learning except on erev Shabbos and on erev Yom Tov at the end of the day. The children are not to be interrupted from their learning even for the purpose of building the Beis HaMikdosh


הַמְלַמֵּד, צָרִיךְ לֵישֵׁב וּלְלַמֵּד אֶת הַתִּינוֹקוֹת כָּל הַיּוֹם וּקְצָת מִן הַלַּיְלָה, כְּדֵי לְחַנְּכָם לִלְמֹד בַּיּוֹם וּבַלָּיְלָה. וְלֹא יְבַטְּלוּ הַתִּינוֹקוֹת כְּלָל, חוּץ מֵעֶרֶב שַׁבָּת וְעֶרֶב יוֹם טוֹב בְּסוֹף הַיוֹם. אֵין מְבַטְּלִין אֶת הַתִּינוֹקוֹת אֲפִלוּ לְבִנְיַן בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ.


A teacher who leaves the children to themselves and goes out, or does some other work with them, or who teaches carelessly, is included in, "Cursed be he who does the work of God with a slack hand."23 Therefore, you should appoint as a teacher, only a person who is God-fearing, fluent in his reading as well as exacting. A teacher should not stay awake at night more than necessary, so that he will not be lazy while teaching during the day. He should also not fast or eat and drink too sparingly. Nor should he eat and drink excessively, for all these things prevent him from teaching efficiently. Any teacher who deviates from these rules, forfeits his rights and should be dismissed.


מְלַמֵּד תִּינוֹקוֹת שֶׁמַּנִּיחַ אֶת הַתִּינוֹקוֹת וְיוֹצֵא, אוֹ שֶׁעוֹשֶׂה מְלָאכָה אַחֶרֶת עִמָּהֶם, אוֹ שֶׁמִּתְרַשֵּׁל בְּתַלְמוּדוֹ, הֲרֵי זֶה בִּכְלַל אָרוּר עוֹשֶׂה מְלֶאכֶת ה' רְמִיָה. לְפִיכָךְ אֵין לְהוֹשִׁיב מְלַמֵּד אֶלָּא בַּעַל יִרְאָה, מָהִיר לִקְרֹא וּלְדַקְדֵּק. וְאֵין לַמְלַמֵּד לִהְיוֹת נֵעוֹר בַּלַיְלָה יוֹתֵר מִדַּי, שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה עָצֵל בַּיּוֹם לְלַמֵּד. וְכֵן לֹא יִתְעַנֶּה אוֹ יַעֲצֹר אֶת עַצְמוֹ מִמַּאֲכָל וּמִשְׁתֶּה אוֹ יֹאכַל יוֹתֵר מִדַּי, כִּי כָּל אֵלּוּ הַדְבָרִים, גוֹרְמִים שֶׁלֹּא יוּכַל לְלַמֵּד הֵיטֵב. וְכָל הַמְשַׁנֶה, יָדוֹ עַל הַתַּחְתּוֹנָה וּמְסַלְּקִין לֵהּ.


A teacher should not strike his pupils as one strikes an enemy, [or with] malice and cruelty, nor with a whip or a stick, but with a light strap.


לֹא יַכֶּה אוֹתָם מַכַּת אוֹיֵב, מוּסָר אַכְזָרִי, לֹא בְשׁוֹטִים וְלֹא בְמַקֵּל, אֶלָּא בִּרְצוּעָה קְטַנָה.


You should not teach the children anything new on Shabbos, i. e. something they have never learned before, because it is too burdensome to do on Shabbos. But something they once read, should be reviewed with them on Shabbos.


אֵין מְלַמְּדִין אֶת הַתִּינוֹקוֹת בַּשַׁבָּת דָּבָר חָדָשׁ מַה שֶׁלֹּא לָמְדוּ עֲדַיִן, מִשׁוּם טֹרַח שַׁבָּת. אֲבָל מַה שֶׁקָרְאוּ פַּעַם אַחַת, שׁוֹנִים אוֹתוֹ לָהֶם בַּשַׁבָּת (עַיֵן עוֹד יוֹרֶה דֵעָה סִימָן רמה, וְעַיֵּן לְעֵיל סִימָן קנב סָעִיף ז).


If a minor finds something, and certainly if someone gave him something as a gift, it is forbidden to rob him of it.


קָטָן שֶׁמָּצָא מְצִיאָה, וּמִכָל שֶׁכֵּן אִם נָתַן לוֹ אַחֵר אֵיזֶה דָבָר בְּמַתָּנָה, אָסוּר לְגָזְלוֹ מִמֶּנּוּ.


You may not give a Jewish child to a non-Jew to instruct him in reading and writing or to teach him a trade, and needless to say, that it is forbidden to give him to a Jewish heretic, which is much worse (than giving him to a non-Jew), for there is concern the child may follow in his footsteps.


אֵין מוֹסְרִין תִּינוֹק לַגּוֹי לְלַמְדוֹ סֵפֶר אוֹ לְלַמְדוֹ אֻמָּנוּת, וּמִכָּל שֶׁכֵּן דְּאָסוּר לְמָסְרוֹ לְאֶפִּיקוֹרוֹס יִשְֹרָאֵל, דְּגָרַע טְפֵי, וְאִיכָּא לְמֵיחָשׁ דִּלְמָא מַמְשִׁיךְ אֲבַתְרֵהּ.