In my experience, I've noticed that many people take for granted that if one needs a Melachah to be performed on Shabbath, one may have a minor, especially one under the age of 3, perform what is needed (eg., turning off a light left on in a bedroom Friday night).

It's apparently not widely known that because of a question raised by Tosafoth (Shabbath 122a), the Magen Avraham (325:22) infers that one may not benefit from Melachah performed by a child who has been asked to do it. The Peri Megadim takes this a bit further and understands that it is a really big problem to ask a child to perform Melachah.

But even the Peri Megadim, to the best of my knowledge, does not go so far as to ban the Hanaah (benefit) of Melachah performed by a child who does it on his own. This seems to parallel the Halachah of benefiting from Melachah performed by a gentile (and, indeed, this is, I believe, the generally accepted understanding - at least in my personal experience and limited research).

Would this not imply that the prohibition against having a child perform Melachah is of rabbinic origin? What about "Atah UVincha UVitecha" (Shemoth 20:9)?

  • Closely related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/1089/5 (I personally do not feel it's a duplicate, because the linked question is far less technical and only encompasses the basic rule, whereas this question asks what the source of the rule is and the ramifications of its being from whichever source.)
    – Seth J
    Apr 9, 2012 at 17:35
  • See Minchat Asher, Shemot, siman 34
    – wfb
    Sep 12, 2019 at 15:54

4 Answers 4


If you have your own child do a melacha for you, this is certainly a violation of atta uvincha uvitecha and is worse than having a non-Jew (who is not your servant) do the melacha for you, which is only rabbinic. The sugya which you bring is talking about a generic minor who does the melacha.

  • 1
    I've also heard it is violating the positive mitzvah of chinuch. I have seen cases where a parent will not ask their own child to do something, but have a different adult ask them. (although it sounds like this is also a problem!)
    – Jeremy
    Dec 27, 2010 at 3:08
  • would it be a problem to benefit from the child's Melachah (not done at your request)? Can you provide sources?
    – Seth J
    Jun 24, 2011 at 16:50
  • "the child's melacha"- are you refering to a generic child and want to know if the Pri Megadim would extend the problem to a case where the adult didn't ask?
    – YDK
    Jun 27, 2011 at 15:12
  • @YDK, I didn't see your follow-up until now. But, yes, that's what I meant. But I'm really trying to get at: is the Melachah performed by any Jewish child Asur BeHanaah by any Jewish adult (as Melachah performed by a Jewish adult would be) as a consequence of Attah UVincha?
    – Seth J
    Apr 9, 2012 at 17:40
  • Atta uvincha is a mitzva on a father to not employ his child in doing melacha. The issur would not apply to a generic child, nor does it apply to the minor child himself (who isn't chayav in mitzvos). So based on how you asked the question, there cannot be a kenas of atta uvincha. (Just to make sure we are on the same page, these restrictions are never biblical.)
    – YDK
    Apr 9, 2012 at 20:04

Short answer: No. I believe that this is answered directly in the hakdamah of the Mishneh Berura to hilchot shabbat, and I know that it is answered in the Yalkut Yosef's Hilkhot Shabbat. Essentially it is ossur to ask a non-Jew or a child to violate an issur d'oraitta under any normal conditions. In general principle when there is a great amount of tzar or there is a sick person, that can be modified. Though it would seem that is a Jewish child is never asked, but also is not reproached if they act under their own initiative. See Magen Avraham 316 S"K 17(also see Shmirat Shabbat K'hilchata chapter 30) for an instance of the issur of asking a non-Jew, and see the various Mishna Berura's brought on O"H 316:11-12, where there are various instances of tzarei ba'alei haim that we would be unable to remedy, but we do not reproach a child who undertakes to help the animal of his own initiative.

  • Turning off a light bulb left on, or turning off an electric appliance that was left on (or accidentally turned on), is not a melacha d'oraisa. Only creative actions are d'oraisa, not destructive actions.
    – user1095
    Feb 15, 2012 at 7:31
  • Mekubal, it's been a while since you posted this and since I asked the question. I upvoted you because of the sources you provided, but now I'm wondering exactly what you meant to answer. Are you saying "No, you may not ask a child", or are you saying "No, it is not DeOraitha to ask a child, although it is still prohibited MiDeRabbanan"? Do you remember your intent, and can you clarify within your answer? Thanks!
    – Seth J
    Feb 15, 2012 at 15:26

Dose of Halacha writes that there are 2 issues - 'sefiyah' and 'chinuch'. He brings sources that allows you to have a young child (too young to understand) do melacha:

The Gemara (Sukka 42a) writes that parents are obligated to teach and train their children to do mitzvos before they become bar / bas mitzva. This obligation, chinuch, only applies when a child is old and mature enough to appreciate what they are doing and why. The Mishna Berura (128:123) writes that with regards to most mitzvos, the age is approximately 5 to 6.

The Gemara (Yevamos 114a) writes that adults mustn’t feed children non-kosher food or make them do things that are forbidden on Shabbos. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 343:1) writes that this prohibition, known as sefiyah, also applies even if they are only forbidden miderabanan. Nonetheless, this only applies if the adult is specifically instructing the child to do the prohibition (See Mishna Berura 343:4).

The Shulchan Aruch Harav (OC 343:10) writes, however, that one may give things to a young child on Shabbos even though you know that they will do something that is forbidden.

Thus, R’ Yisroel Dovid Harfenes (Nishmas Shabbos 7:479) and the Piskei Teshuvos (343:2) write that one may stand a young child in front of a light switch on Shabbos even though they will switch it on or off, providing that they are too young to comprehend what they are doing.


The best answer I can now provide is to direct you to this link. He explains the conditions where atah u'vincha applies, where chinuch applies, etc.

  • 1
    Ze'ev, if you have the time, could you please summarize the key points (within your answer)? Thanks!
    – Seth J
    Feb 15, 2012 at 15:22

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