I'm looking for examples the Sages prescribe for educating for keeping Mitzvos (חינוך למצוות), for example:

  • "קָטָן הַיּוֹדֵעַ לְנַעְנֵעַ, חַיָּב בַּלּוּלָב:" Mishnah Succah 3,15

  • "מִשָּׁעָה שֶׁהַבֵּן יוֹדֵעַ לְדַבֵּר, לַמְּדֵהוּ "תּוֹרָה צִוָּה לָנוּ מֹשֶׁה"

On what additional Mitzvos do we have explicit Rabbinical (pre-Rishonim) sources to educate our kids to? Like is there a way to get them used to Yom Kippur or Teffilah or Matzah or Honoring parents etc.

  • Isn't the better question what don't we need to educate kids about? – Double AA Oct 24 '18 at 14:23
  • @DoubleAA I'm more into practical examples, like "to educate to Mitzvah A when a kid is/does X you make him Y" – Al Berko Oct 24 '18 at 14:29
  • Where is your second example from? – Double AA Oct 24 '18 at 14:30
  • 2
    Is it not the Gemara to the mishna in sukkah you reference along with a dozen other examples? This is why it's good to source your material. You basically already had the source you wanted if you just checked before posting. – Double AA Oct 24 '18 at 14:33
  • 1
    Check again. They are mostly examples of prescriptions for educating for keeping the Mitzvos: Lulav, Tzitzis, Tefillin, Torah, Shema. Also, depending on how you learn the sugya, maybe eating Korban Pesach. – IsraelReader Oct 24 '18 at 21:37

Most importantly:

דברים לא יב

הַקְהֵל אֶת-הָעָם, הָאֲנָשִׁים וְהַנָּשִׁים וְהַטַּף וְגֵרְךָ אֲשֶׁר בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ, לְמַעַן יִשְׁמְעוּ וּלְמַעַן יִלְמְדוּ וְיָרְאוּ אֶת-ה' אֱלֹהֵיכֶם וְשָׁמְרוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת-כָּל-דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת.

Devarim 31 12

Gather the people—men, women, children, and the strangers in your communities—that they may hear and so learn to revere the LORD your God and to observe faithfully every word of this Teaching.

From @chortkov2 comment:

ערכין ב ב

קטן שאינו צריך לאמו חייב בסוכה ... קטן היודע לנענע חייב בלולב ...קטן היודע להתעטף חייב בציצית ... קטן היודע לשמור תפלין אביו לוקח לו תפלין

הגמרא בסוכה מב ב מוסיפה

יכול לאכול כזית צלי שוחטין עליו את הפסח

Erchin 2b

A minor that does not need his mother obligated in Suka... a minor that can shake a Lulav obligated to shake Lulav... a minor that can wear Tzizt obligated in Tzizit... a minor that know to keep Tefiilin , his father takes Teffilin for him.

The Gemara in Suka 42b Adds:

If he can eat olive-volume food - he participates in Peash sacrifice.

כתובות נ א

בר שית קביל וספי ליה כתורא

A six years old - take him in (for Tora learning) and "feed" him like a bull.

Closely related:

משנה נדה ה ו

בת אחת עשרה שנה ויום אחד, נדריה נבדקין... בן שתים עשרה שנה ויום אחד, נדריו נבדקים

Mishna Nida p5 5

Eleven year old girl, her vows are checked... Twelve year old boy, his vows are checked.


I think your examples suggest the principle and all mitzvot are are really under the same principle - if your child can understand the point, then he needs to be educated.

The exceptions prove the rule - children are exempt from Fast days (Shulchan Aruch O.Ch. 616:2 Mish. Berurah. 9). Every opportunity is a learning experience - when the child is ready. Every mitzvah in the Torah has the same principle. Of course, you should give your child Matzah to eat on Pesach, even if he doesn't fully understand it, because it will inculcate the experience that the next time, it will be part of him until he is ready to understand and appreciate it. Some mitzvot, you think he would be ready (say fasting at 12 years old) we don't allow that because he may think he is ready, but in reality, we don't make exceptions).

If you're looking for 613 statements from Chazal outlining when each mitzvah is relevant to children, you're not going to get it. Chazal give principles on which you have to draw the conclusion that every mitzvah that falls into that category - when a child is able to perform the mitzvah properly according to his level of understanding then we should encourage that and give him all the necessary tools and steps to help him perform it correctly. Which means purchasing a kosher Lulav and Esrog, teaching Berachos etc. This is the understanding of the Mishnah in Sukkah.


Various latter day Rabbonim and mechanchim speak about early training as a means to create 'רגילות במצוות' - i.e. the means of making mitzvos habitual and second nature to the child. As the adage goes, "ההרגל על כל דבר שלטון" – “The habit of something holds sway”. (See See מדרש שמואל פרקי אבות א:יד who quotes ר"י ן' שושן ז"ל). Indeed this is how the מצודות דוד on משלי כב:ו interprets the pasuk of חֲנֹ֣ךְ לַ֭נַּעַר.

As a result this sense of רגילות is one of the underlying reasons why we train children from a young age in the practise of מצוות.

Quite a few examples have been listed already - but perhaps two more can be listed that show how this sense of routine manifests itself in both the positive and negative sense.

Both of them centre around your point about getting them "used to Yom Kippur"

in מסכת יומא פב we are told that whilst ordinarily children under בר\בת מצוה do not fast on יום כיפור, they should do so a year or two before they come of age so that they become accustomed to fasting.

The Mishna there writes:

התינוקות אין מענין אותן ביוה"כ אבל מחנכין אותן לפני שנה ולפני שנתיים בשביל שיהיו רגילין במצות

With regard to the children, one does not afflict them by withholding food on Yom Kippur; however, one trains them one year before or two years before they reach majority, by means of a partial fast lasting several hours, so that they will be accustomed to fulfill mitzvot.

(Sefaria translation & notation)

Meanwhile the גמרא in מסכת עירובין מ speaks about making קידוש in shul on יום כיפור night. It notes that one cannot recite קידוש on a cup of wine without tasting it immediately after the ברכה has been said (In fact, רש"י ד"ה ליתביה לינוקא adds that to do so is a גנאי, a disgrace.). Due to the fact that it is a fast day we obviously would not be able to drink from the cup. Thus, the גמרא suggests offering it to a minor to drink, thereby allowing for the potential to say it. However the גמרא concludes – "דילמא אתי למסרך" – “Perhaps he (the child) might become used to it”. As רש"י explains, should the child drink the wine, he might become acclimatised to such a practise even after he becomes בר מצוה. Therefore, we see from this גמרא that anything that might come to create a negative inclination in the child must be avoided too.

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