In Mishna 1 of of the Eighth Perek of Masechet Sanhedrin it states that we know the ages in which the halachot of ben sorrer u'moreh apply from the fact that the Torah says "ben" (boy) and not "ish" (man); the same Mishna also mentions that we learn they don't apply to a girl because it specifically says "ben" and not "bat" (girl).

However, in the Mishna, the two quotes are ordered such that "boy and not girl" comes first (directly after stating the age that the halachot apply) and "boy and not man" comes second. If (as the Yad Rama states) the main point which relates to the age is "boy and not man", and the "boy and not girl" is added because it is learned from the same phrase in the Torah, the order seems like it should be reversed. The fact that the order is as it is seems to suggest that "boy and not girl" teaches us something essential which we need to know in order to understand "boy and not man".

Why does "boy and not girl" come in the Mishna before the more relevant "boy and not man"?

If it is to teach us something about "boy and not man," what does it teach us?

  • I'd be curious to know what specifically makes this a bad question, which I assume it is since I'm not getting any answers or even upvotes. Is it just the length? Is it too complex?
    – andrewmh20
    Feb 25, 2013 at 3:48
  • I just noticed that you added the "sources" tag to the question. Are you primarily looking for a source for the answer to this? Because if so, I'm afraid my answer doesn't provide much help.
    – jake
    Feb 28, 2013 at 5:23
  • Not really, I just wanted to get an answer, and I thought this might fall under "sources" since it is the source of the halachot that are being discussed.
    – andrewmh20
    Feb 28, 2013 at 5:53

1 Answer 1


My guess is that the drasha of "בן ולא בת, בן ולא איש" was a known drasha that the mishna here is incorporating to support it's statement about the age of the ben sorrer u'moreh. Although the fact about "בן ולא בת" is not relevant to the discussion of the mishna, it includes the full statement as it was known.

To give a more famous example, in the gemara that discusses the eligibility of Ruth as a convert uses the drasha for support: "עמוני ולא עמונית, מואבי ולא מואבית". Why is the part about "עמוני" relevant? It's not. It was a known drasha that is being quoted in full as it was known to support a halachic statement.

  • 1
    Regarding your comparison to עמוני ולא עמונית: note that Rashi to Ruth 4:6 states that Ploni made a mistake regarding עמוני ולא עמונית. Rashi does not even mention מואבי ולא מואבית which would actually be the relevant part of the drasha. The simple explanation mentioned by many would be pretty much what you said: the drasha was said a certain way, and mentioning the part was like mentioning the whole thing.
    – nagah
    Feb 28, 2013 at 6:21

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