As mentioned in this question, Shabbos 89b states that the heavenly Beis Din does not punish people under 20. Why is to be discussed there.

My question is regarding Elul and the Yamim Noraim. Is there a point to them for us teenagers? Do we actually gain anything from the Yamim Noraim? Or is it just "practice" for when we get older and our lives will actually be on the line on Rosh Hashanah?

  • 2
    קהלת פרק יב פסוק א וּזְכֹר֙ אֶת־בּ֣וֹרְאֶ֔יךָ בִּימֵ֖י בְּחוּרֹתֶ֑יךָ עַ֣ד אֲשֶׁ֤ר לֹא־יָבֹ֙אוּ֙ יְמֵ֣י הָֽרָעָ֔ה וְהִגִּ֣יעוּ שָׁנִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֣ר תֹּאמַ֔ר אֵֽין־לִ֥י בָהֶ֖ם חֵֽפֶץ
    – mevaqesh
    Sep 18, 2016 at 3:46
  • Possible duplicate of Why does earthly punishment start at 13 and divine punishment at 20?
    – AAM111
    Oct 7, 2016 at 21:14
  • @OldBunny2800 No. That question is about why it's true in the first place. My question is now that it is true, what is an under 20 year old supposed to get out of Yamim Noraim?
    – DonielF
    Oct 9, 2016 at 0:50
  • this will probably depend upon what exactly is judged on Rosh Hashanah in the first place Apr 6, 2017 at 18:48
  • "My question is regarding Elul and the Yamim Noraim" Note that Elul isn't associated with the High Holidays or designated as a special time for teshuva in Tanakh, Hazal, or Geonim. |Why ask about Yom Kippur? Rosh HaShana is more relevant to judgement.
    – mevaqesh
    Apr 9, 2017 at 6:15

1 Answer 1


Based on the accepted answer to the question you refer to (Why does earthly punishment start at 13 and divine punishment at 20?), it seems that teenagers really should be taking the Yamim Noraim seriously.

To be more specific, the accepted answer lists 4 caveats from the Chacham Tzvi (Response 49) about the under 20 rule.

Let's analyze each one:

  1. It was only before the giving of the Torah that punishment started at 20, after the giving of the Torah it starts at 13. (I believe this only answers why we say Sarah was free from sin at 100 as when she was 20. It does not address the Gemara or any others who say that Heavenly punishment starts at 20)

Since you're living after the giving of the Torah, you're now liable after 13, 7 years before 20.

  1. The Heavenly Court doesn't always punish for crimes committed under 20, and that's part of Yitzchok's "deal" with G-d, to ignore any sin committed before 20.

Doesn't always punish - but sometimes it does; why take a chance?

  1. The Heavenly Court doesn't punish people in this world for doing something wrong when they are under 20. Once they go up to heaven, however, they are judged for everything done after 13 years old.

If you - Gcd forbid - go to heaven before your first post-20th-birthday-Yom Kippur you're going to be in trouble if you didn't do Teshuva.

  1. The Heavenly Court waits until one is 20 to see if they do Teshuva. Once the person reaches 20 without doing Teshuva, the person is punished for the sin he committed when younger.

As in above, you don't want to risk being called in before you get a chance to do Teshuva. In addition, you will need to keep track - for 7 years - of everything that needs fixing, as you're not off the hook, it's just a deferment.

So it seems that even for teenagers the Yamim Noraim are not practice runs, but need to be taken seriously, since heaven is keeping track - as per each of the answers above.

  • 2
    Do not the teenagers also daven for the rest of the Jews (the prayers are not in singular form but in plural)
    – hazoriz
    Apr 10, 2017 at 1:46

You must log in to answer this question.

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