You ask an excellent question. Let me preface my response with a couple of questions of my own. From what point are parent obligated to feed their child? At what age are parents required to begin providing clothes for their child?

Just as a child begins to grow and mature, absorb and ingest, immediately upon entering this world – and even beforehand – so does our obligation to educate our child and provide for his/her spiritual nourishment and needs begin at that point. Immediately upon entering this world, and even beforehand, we must ensure that the child is surrounded by a positive spiritual environment. The child should be exposed to only positive sights and pleasant sounds.

Certainly, we cannot compare newborn infants to toddlers or older children; their needs and the way they absorb, comprehend and process information are very different. Thus, for example, the educational requirements of an infant or toddler are different than that of a teenager in adolescence. When a child is older, education is primarily informational, while in the earlier stages education consists of exposure to holy and spiritual stimuli.

One of the greatest Mishnaic sages, Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai, once praised his disciple Rabbi Joshua ben Chananiah, "Fortunate is she who gave birth to him" (Ethics 2:9). The reason why Rabbi Joshua's mother deserved this lavish praise? Because when he was a young infant, "she never removed his cradle from the study hall"!

An important part of a child's spiritual development is to ascertain that he/she consumes only 100% kosher foods.

As children grow, we find different stages in the obligation to educate them in the ways of Torah. Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi writes in his Code of Jewish Law: "When a child begins to speak, the father should begin teaching him verses of Torah." Perhaps the child does not yet comprehend what he is saying, yet he begins to build an appreciation and respect for the Torah. The age of three marks another milestone in a child's education—at this age it is customary to begin training a boy to wear tzitzit, and a girl to light Shabbat and holiday candles. Children are then taught to recite the morning blessings, the Grace after Meals, and the Shema before retiring. Halachically speaking, the obligation to start training children to do all mitzvot begins somewhere between the age of 6 and 9—depending on the nature of the child.

At the age of 13, for a boy, or 12 for a girl, the time the child reaches Bar or Bat Mitzvah, respectively, the child – or actually, the new adult – becomes obligated to fulfill all of G‑d's commandments.

In summary, it is never too early to begin educating your child as every moment is an opportunity not to be missed. Needless to say, we must cater to the needs and comprehension levels of the child at that point in time.

All the best,

Rabbi Shmuel Kogan,