As a child I learned that a minor is not culpable for his or her sins and that any negative effect from those sins is borne by the parent (I don't recall if it was specifically the father). I would like to know what the source is for this idea.

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One of the places that this is mentioned in, is in Bereshit Raba 63:10

אָמַר רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר צָרִיךְ אָדָם לְהִטָּפֵל בִּבְנוֹ עַד י"ג שָׁנָה, מִיכָּן וָאֵילָךְ צָרִיךְ שֶׁיֹּאמַר בָּרוּךְ שֶׁפְּטָרַנִּי מֵעָנְשׁוֹ שֶׁל זֶה

"Rabbi Eleazar said: A man is responsible for his son until the age of 13: thereafter he must say, ‘Blessed is He who has now freed me from the punishment of this one'"

The Aruch Hashulchan 1:225:4 explains the reason for this Bracha:

ועניין הברכה הוא משום דעד עתה נענש האב כשהבן חטא על שלא חינכו כראוי, וגם הבן מת בעון האב, אבל כשנעשה בר מצוה אז אין האב נענש בשביל הבן ולא הבן בשביל האב

"The reason for saying the brocho is, because till now, the father was punished when the son sinned, because he didn't educate him well, and also the son dies for the sins of the father. But after the child reaches Bar Mitzva, the father no longer is responsible for his sons sins, nor is the son for Father's sins.

  • You say "till now, the father was punished when the son sinned", but surely that's not so - or not necessarily so. What might be sins when carried out by an adult aren't sins when carried out by a child, and therefore there's no culpability for the father. This is not clear at all. Commented May 9, 2018 at 18:38
  • @StephenGames well it's not exactly me saying this. I'm quoting from the aruch hashulchan. If you have a better translation, feel free to suggest
    – aBochur
    Commented May 9, 2018 at 18:50
  • @StephenGames good point. I'd imagine anything that counts as sinful behaviour for a child would fall on the father. The age appropriateness of sins is covered in halacha to some degree. Common sense should fill in the rest.
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Jan 25, 2023 at 19:41

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