Are there any mitzvot that kids under bar/bat mitzvah are obligated to keep? (not including for "educational purposes")

3 Answers 3


The S'dei Chemed briefly entertains the possibility that the mitzva of chinuch itself is an obligation on minors. He soundly rejects it but the two pages it takes to get there are very interesting. (There is a reference to the discussion and others who address it here, in יד.)


A child that has not yet reached the age of maturity is not obligated to keep any mitzvah. There is an essay by the Steipler Gaon (perhaps in Kidushin) that entertains the idea that kids are obligated Rabbinically to keep mitzvos and that this is the definition of the mitzva of chinuch. I don't believe this is a generally accepted opinion.

The obvious problem with this approach is that if children have no obligations, then they aren't obligated to listen to the sages either. It's a nice discussion, and if I find it I will post the exact citation.

  • See Encyclopedia Talmudit's entry for Chinuch. It brings a dispute among Rishonim in this matter, and raises the objection I noted in my answer.
    – Barry
    Dec 24, 2010 at 16:29
  • Barry, a muflah samuch le'ish, basically a 12 year old boy is obligated in Hilchos Nedarim
    – Yahu
    Dec 26, 2010 at 2:23
  • IIUC, the nedarim of a child near maturity do take effect, but the child is not obligated to keep them. E.g. if a child near maturity prohibits some of his food from being eaten, adults must refrain from eating the food, but not the child.
    – Barry
    Dec 29, 2010 at 21:37

The Pri Megadim in the Pesicha of Chelek Bais in Ois Gimnel says that Ketanim are obligated in negative (Lo Saase) Mitzvos. Harav Moshe Zatzal in Yoreh Deah Chelek Bais Siman Ches disagrees with the Pri Megadim.

  • As far as they themselves are concerned that obligation is educational.
    – Yahu
    Dec 26, 2010 at 2:24
  • A kid is not allowed to kill, steal or any other Lo Saase. Dec 26, 2010 at 3:20
  • Neither is a Shor "allowed" to kill. What does that have to do with obligations?
    – Yahu
    Dec 26, 2010 at 4:00
  • 1
    Actually with a Shor there is a mitzvah of Shmira on its owner. With a child there is no such mitzva for the parents, and they are patur from any damage the child causes. Rabbi Reisman Shlit"a lectures on it in the first perek of Bava Kama(I believe shiur 5 mp3shiur.com/prodDetails.asp?catID=45&prodID=744), but definitely within the first five shiurim of the first amud. Dec 26, 2010 at 17:00
  • Please see correction above with source. Dec 26, 2010 at 18:46

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