By Rabbi Berach Steinfeld
Chinuch is a loaded topic of discussion. A few points and details will be discussed here. Does being mechanech a child only apply to a kotton or does it apply to a gadol also? When one is mechanech, does the chinuch need to be with all the details of the mitzvah or that is not necessary? Some additional questions we will explore; does a mother have a chiyuv to be mechanech her son? Does a father have a chiyuv to be mechanech his daughter?
In Breishis Rabba it says that a person is busy working to be mechanech his son up to the age of thirteen. After his son turns thirteen, the father makes the bracha “boruch shepatrani.” We see from the Breishis Rabba that chinuch applies until the age of thirteen, however chinuch in older children is evident in the following gemara. The gemara in Moed Kotton, daf yud zayin, amud alef says that if one hits his older son, he belongs in “cheirem” since he is causing the possibility that the son may hit back. The Ritva says that if not for the “lifnei iveir” component of that disciplining, one would have a requirement to reprimand, punish and be mechanech his older child. Therefore, we see that chinuch extends past the age of thirteen.
The Ritva in Sukka, daf bais, amud bais says that chinuch needs to be evident concerning every part of the mitzvah. The Mordechai argues with this. According to the Ritva we would need to understand why the gemara in Yuma, peh bais, amud alef says that we are mechanech our young children to fast a few hours on Yom Kippur despite the fact that the mitzvah is not done in its entirety.
The gemara in Nazir, daf chof tes says that a mother is not mechuyav to be mechanech her son, which is the reason why a mother can’t bring a nezirus on her son while a father, is able to. This is so because the mother is not required to be mechanech her child. On the other hand, in the gemara in Sukka, daf bais, amud bais we see that a mother is required to be mechanech her son as Hileni the queen built a sukka for her seven sons. On a different note, we do not find a mother making the bracha of “Boruch Shepatrani.”
There are two reasons for the bracha of “baruch shepatrani.” The Levush explai
In Nazir, daf chof tes we find that a father is not mechuyav to be mechanech his daughter and therefore he can not make her into a “nezirah.” Conversely, in the gemara in Yuma, daf peh bais we find that there is a chiyuv to be mechanech one’s daughter to fast some hours on Yom Kippur.
To clarify all these contradictions we can explain that chinuch consists of five parts.
The first part is a din of “arvus.” This is similar to the obligation to try to stop wrongdoing when one sees a Jew doing an aveirah. When an adult son is living at home, a parent would have the same chiyuv to stop him from doing aveiros if one observes him doing so. If not for the fact of “lifnei iveir,” one would even be required to hit and or punish an older child.
The second part of chinuch is to be mechanech a child to do the mitzvah with all details. This applies up to the age of thirteen. That is why the father makes the bracha “boruch shepatrani” at the age of thirteen.
The third part is getting a child used to doing mitzvos so when he gets older it will not be strange to him. For this part we do not need all the details of the mitzvah; he will get that when he gets older. At this time of chinuch all he needs is to get used to the concept. Therefore, even according to the Ritva who states that we need to be mechanech with all the details, when it can’t be done completely because it may endanger the child (like fasting on Yom Kippur) it is sufficient enough to just get the child accustomed to doing mitzvos.
The fourth part is chinuch on all of Yiddishkeit in general. A father has a chiyuv to make sure that his son is an “oveid Hashem“ and learns Torah. This is only a requirement for the father. That is why when it comes to nezirus, which is a general part of Yiddishkeit, not a detailed mitzvah that everyone needs to do, only the father has that power to make his son into a nazir. The mother is not able to do this. A father does not have that general chiyuv for his daughter since she is not mechuyav to learn Torah.
The fifth and final part is “chanoch lenaar … darko.” There are some things that can’t be explained or integrated when a child is young. Chinuch therefore does not stop at thirteen, but continues forever to make sure the child grows up to be an Ehrlicher Yid.
Let us all be zocheh to be mechanech our children properly.