In the classic move Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and its sequels, people get shrunk down to 1/264th of their normal size. So, a person is around 1/4 of an inch tall.

If such a thing were even possible, would there be any changes in size requirements for him?

Some examples:

  • A Chanukiah has to be higher than 3 tefachim (~11.5in) from the ground. A normal 3 tfachim at that scale would be 46 times bigger than him!
  • The minimum amount of bread that needs to be eaten to bentch is 1 kezayit (~30g), or around the amount of one cookie. In the movie, one cookie is way more than enough to feed 4 kids.
  • The minimum amount to be liable for transferring on Shabbat is whatever is useful to people. E.g. Human food, the size of a dried fig etc. (see rest of list in mishna shabbos ch. 8). Those shiurim are humongous for him!

Would any of these (or other) shiurim (measurements) be scaled down to match the shrunk person?

  • 5
    מלא לוגמיו depends on the size of the person, although a small person may have to drink rov r'vi'is for kiddush or arba' kosos even if that's more than their מלא לוגמיו.
    – Fred
    Feb 1, 2015 at 20:48
  • 9
    I'm not quite sure why you think being shrunk to that extent makes a difference. If a five foot person has the same shiur as a 7 foot person, why would a four or three foot person be different? How small do you have to get before the new shiur size takes effect?
    – Daniel
    Feb 1, 2015 at 20:52
  • 5
    On the other hand, some shiurim are dependent on the size of the person (like the amount of ketores the kohane gadol takes on Yom Kippur), so those are obviously dependent on size regardless of how small the person is, so again I don't see why such major shrinkage is relevant to the question.
    – Daniel
    Feb 1, 2015 at 20:54
  • 3
    @Daniel I believe that major shrinkage was a way to make the question more fun -- if someone can make the correct associations to the relevant halachos, then more power to them!
    – MTL
    Feb 2, 2015 at 6:24
  • The Malbim reads the passuk as describing Baby Og's crib -- "it was nine cubits long and four wide, using a grown man's cubit!"
    – Shalom
    Aug 14, 2017 at 20:18

2 Answers 2


The question is extremely relevant as some people (e.g with allergies to gluten) are unable to eat Matza on Pesach and more than a few crumbs could be fatal, so as far as we're concerned they are the "shrunk kids" and whether it’s worth it for them to eat a few crumbs which they are able to muster is a very important question.

The Shulchan Aruch O.C 612,1 says that the giant Og melech haboshon would be chayav on Yom Kippur on a measurement of a cacoseves Hagaso (a large date) just like everyone else because even though he ate a far greater amount he had some sort of degree of satisfaction as it says in Yuma 80a: מתקיף לה רבי זירא כל העולם כולו ככותבת ועוג מלך הבשן בככותבת אמר ליה אביי קים להו לרבנן דבהכי מייתבא דעתיה. The Shulchan Aruch continues that Ben Nanos the dwarf would also be chayav on Yom Kippur by eating a date size even though it was a lot for him.

Hence we see the same measurement for everyone in that case of a date size.

We also see with the measurement of a Cabeitza (egg) and a cazais (olive) that the same measurement applies.

The Tanna Rabbi Tzoddok who was fasting for 40 years, and even though he had such a small stomach he couldn't eat more than the juice of an a fig when he was being healed as stated in Gittin 56a: ר' צדוק יתיב ארבעין שנין בתעניתא דלא ליחרב ירושלים כי הוה אכיל מידי הוה מיתחזי מאבראי וכי הוה בריא מייתי ליה גרוגרות מייץ מייהו ושדי להו. He was potur from eating in the succah (succah 27a) - which one fulfills ones mitzva with a Kebaitza (egg size) during the 7 days of succos - as he always ate a very small amount which was even less than a cazayis. He would have likewise been exempt from eating a kezais on the first night in the succah where there is a smaller measurement of a cazais as it states in Shulchan Aruch O.C. 639,3: אכילה בסוכה בליל יום טוב הראשון חובה. אפילו אכל כזית פת יצא ידי חובתו. And the Mishna Brura explains :בליל יו"ט הראשון חובה - ר"ל דבליל יו"ט הראשון מחוייב לאכול בסוכה ואפילו אם אינו אוכל אלא כזית משא"כ מליל זה והלאה אפילו בשבת ויו"ט דמחוייב לאכול פת אינו מחויב לאכול בסוכה אלא אם אוכל יותר מכביצה דהוי אכילת קבע. והטעם דלילה זה חמיר דגמרינן ט"ו ט"ו מחג המצות מה התם רק לילה הראשונה חובה מכאן ואילך רשות אף ה"נ לענין סוכה: i.e first night one eats a kezais (olive size) in the succah, rest of the 7 days more than a cabaitza (egg size). So we see a shrunk stomach does not change measurements with regards to eating.

However with melo lugmov (a cheek full) which is how much kiddush wine the mekadesh needs to drink (S.A O.C 271,13) and the amount of liquid to drink on Yom kippur to be chayav koreis (S.A O.C 612,9) is dependent on how big the persons cheek is.

Just to note with eating or drinking on Yom Kippur, remember chatzi shiur (Half measurements) ossur min hatorah (are still prohibitted from the Torah), which means while one is not chayav kareis (Death under 60) it is still prohibited to eat unless Pikuach nefesh (saving a life).

With regards to carrying food on shabbos, food is definitely a fixed amount the size of a fig according to the mishna brought in the question and in fact all of the following measurements are the exact fruit size regardless of the size of the person:

Eiruvin 4a:שיעורין דאורייתא הוא דכתיב (דברים ח, ח) ארץ חטה ושעורה וגו' ואמר רב חנן כל הפסוק הזה לשיעורין נאמר חטה לכדתנן גהנכנס לבית המנוגע וכליו על כתיפיו וסנדליו וטבעותיו בידיו הוא והם טמאין מיד דהיה לבוש כליו וסנדליו ברגליו וטבעותיו באצבעותיו הוא טמא מיד והן טהורין עד שישהא בכדי אכילת פרס פת חיטין ולא פת שעורין מיסב ואוכל בליפתן שעורה דתנן העצם כשעורה מטמא במגע ובמשא ואינו מטמא באהל גפן כדי ורביעית יין לנזירתאנה אכגרוגרת להוצאת שבת רמון כדתנן בכל כלי בעלי בתים שיעורן כרימונים (דברים ח, ח) ארץ זית שמן (ודבש) ארץ שכל שיעוריה כזיתים כל שיעוריה ס"ד והאיכא הני דאמרן אלא אימא ארץ שרוב שיעוריה כזיתים דבש גככותבת הגסה ליום הכיפורים - measurement are from the Torah as it says Devarim 8,8 " a land with wheat" this is the half loaf of wheat bread that a person eats.In This time frame his clothes will be contaminated in a House of tzaraas. "barley" This is the size of a human bone to be contaminated with i.e the size of a kernal of barley. "grapes" the amount of wine for a nazir to drink to be liable to lashes for profaning his nazirrus i.e reviis (1 and half eggs), "fig" a dried fig he is liable when he carries on shabbos, "pomegranate" the size of hole in a big container used to store big things that will render the container tahor (uncontaminated)," a land of olives" most measurements are the size of olives,"and dates" one is liable to eat a large date size on Yom kippur.

As with regards to cubits and hand-breaths they are also nonnegligeble. This is because their are 7 hairs in an agudol which is the thumb of an average personah . (Source Rambam Sefer Torah 10,20:שיעור גודל של אדם בינוני הוא כרוחב ז' שערות זו בצד זו בדוחק, וכן באורך ב' שערות ברוחב. הרמב"ם פרק י מהלכות ספר תורה דין ט). there are 4 agudols(thumbs) in a tefach (Handbreath)(source menochos 41b)(פרק התכלת מא:] טפח דאורייתא ד' אצבעות בגודל שית בקטנה חמש ותילתא באצבע), and there are 6 handbreaths in a regular cubit (Source Menachos 97a according to Rabbi Yehuda: אמה וטפח באמות בינוניות יהא מאמותיו אמה וטפח דאמותיו והן בשל חמשה דהוה ליה של ששה אמה וטפח באלו. וחיק האמה כלומר באלו אמות אני אומר שיהו בנות חמשה וחיק האמה דהיינו יסוד. אלו הקרנות זרת אמה האחד דמאמצעית) and 5 handbreaths in a cubit of the keilim in the Beis hamikdosh (source Keilim 17,10:י"ז דכלים (משנה י') תנן רבי יהודה אומר אמה של בנין בת ששה טפחים ושל כלים ה')

  • Very accute you have proven in a case of eating a kzais min hatorah in the case of succa that shiurim don't change applied with that case of rabbi tzadok who had a tiny stomach. Now i know why the rabbi told my cousin with crohns desease (who can't eat more than a tiny bit of matza) NOT to eat just a little bit of matza on seder night as it won't help.
    – user15464
    Aug 18, 2017 at 10:34

The Arukh haShulchan (OC 363:34) contrasts the ammah used for measuring for an eiruv, and the ammah used for measuring the maximum 4 amos at which carrying an object is prohibited.

One may carry in public on Shabbos less than four amos distance. When measuring those 4 amos, a person built according to the norms for human beings should measure out their own amos -- 4 personal forearms.

But because an eiruv has to be sharable, we use a standardized ammah. (Although in the previous se'ifim he discusses the fact that even with a given opinion of what an ammah should be in modern measures, this is still a range with a "stingy ammah" or "generous ammah" to be used as appropriate. Humans having only human abilities to measure, Hashem gave Moshe a range, not a specific value.)

When speaking of fasting on Yom Kippur (OC 612:8), the Arukh haShulchan rules that when we speak of drinking less than "melo lugmav -- the fill of his cheeks" (eg a sick person who must drink but is able to minimize the violation) is indeed his own cheeks.

However, when it comes to food, the measure for Yom Kippur is a kekoseves hagasah (the volume of a particular breed of date, a "fat" date). Or in your case of birkhas hamazon ("bentching") and most other mitzvos, the unit is a kezayis (olive volume). These would be measured using standard measures. Which makes sense, since even an individual doesn't have a connection to any one particular olive. It's not like an ammah, which refers to a forearm, and a person has only two (one hopes).

So, it would seem the kezayis of bread would stay the same, but the other measures.... Well, remember I wrote about the person being anatomically typical? For example, a thalidomide baby wouldn't have incredibly short amos. Maybe being shrunk would qualify. Maybe not, since everything is still to scale.

But there is another problem with the kezayis. Beyond the kezayis, there is the measure of sevi'ah -- being satiated. For example, by Torah law, birkhas hamazon is only in the context of "ואכלת ושבעת וברכת - you shall eat, you shall be satiated, and you shall bless." We held ourselves to a much stricter standard, and bless G-d for even just a kezayis of food.

But that is assuming that a kezayis is much less than sevi'ah. Your hypothetical shrunk person will be satiated with far less and therefore may be biblically obligated way before reaching the rabbinic limit. And perhaps on Yom Kippur too one can't eat to satiation if someone would have far less than a kekoseves of capacity.

Needless to say, the Arukh haShulchan doesn't discuss your case. I guess the guy was just.... overlooked?

  • Eating on yom kippur has a limit of koseves hagasah
    – Double AA
    Aug 14, 2017 at 22:04

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .