December 5, 2017
Beis Moshiach in #1096, Halacha 2 Go

Selected Halachos from the  “One Minute Halacha” project

By HaRav Yosef Yeshaya Braun, Shlita
Mara D’asra and member of the Badatz of Crown Heights


When a need arises to have a light turned on or off on Shabbos (whether due to a mistake before Shabbos, a mishap during Shabbos, etc.), some might entertain the thought of holding a young child up next to the switch hoping that they get the hint and flip the switch to the desired setting; however, this is expressly forbidden on Shabbos. The only permissible solution is to place an exceptionally young child—one who doesn’t understand the significance that flipping the light switch has to his parents—in the general area of the light switch in the hope that they might play with it and achieve the desired result.

Following are additional halachic guidelines relevant to children of various ages:

The mitzvah mi’d’rabanan of chinuch (rabbinical requirement for education) is that a child who has reached the age of chinuch, who understands the significance of mitzvos (approximately 5-6 years old), must be trained by their father to perform mitzvos.

The mitzvah of chinuch for a lo sa’aseh (a negative commandment) applies from an even younger age. Once a child is bar havanah (capable of understanding), i.e. they can grasp the concept of something being prohibited when so told (approximately 2-3 years old)—even if they don’t yet understand why, they must be prevented by their father from violating a lo sa’aseh (a negative commandment).

A child who understands that a specific action benefits their parents—even a very young child—may not do a malacha (an activity forbidden on Shabbos) to benefit their parents. According to some Rishonim, this is due to a mitzvah mi’d’oreisa of shevisas bno (a biblical obligation that one’s children refrain from doing forbidden activities on their parents’ behalf on Shabbos). According to the Alter Rebbe, this principle applies only mi’d’rabanan, but to any aveira (transgression) and to any adult, not just the parents; thus, if one sees any child doing a malacha on Shabbos—or any activity that’s forbidden for an adult—on an adult’s behalf, one should stop the child from doing so.

Issur sefiyah: It is forbidden min ha’Torah (biblically) for any adult to actively cause a child of any age, even if he lacks understanding, even a one-day-old, to do an aveira, e.g. feed a child non-kosher food. Instructing a child to desecrate the Shabbos is included in this prohibition.


The mitzvah of tzitzis isn’t a mitzvah chiyuvis, one that we are commanded to actively seek out, but rather a mitzvah kiyumis, one that becomes obligatory only if a man chooses to wear a four-cornered garment. However, the Gemara states that a malach (angel) informed Rav Katina that those who don’t wear tzitzis are a target for Divine punishment b’idan rischa (at a time of Heavenly anger).

Poskim add that since wearing tzitzis at all times has become accepted by Klal Yisroel, this minhag (custom) has become mandatory and has assumed the status of a neder (vow), and falls under the category of “Al titosh toras imecha” (Do not forsake the Torah of your mother). This principle applies to all minhagim that have been accepted by Klal Yisroel, but is particularly true for the mitzvah of tzitzis since it has the status of a mitzvas aseh min haTorah (Biblical commandment), a mitzvah which is fulfilled every moment while wearing it, and in view of its vital purpose—“Uzchartem es kol mitzvos Hashem”, to remember Hashem and His mitzvos at all times.

Poskim also cite the Arizal’s enjoinder never to remove our tzitzis except as necessary in the bathroom or when bathing, or under similar circumstances. Tzitzis should be worn even when it’s hot, while exercising or when doing work that might make the tzitzis dirty. Still, we should try to prevent the tzitzis from getting soiled, and if necessary, have spare tzitzis for davening, and for Shabbos and Yom Tov.


The k’suba, the document a husband accords his wife which details her marital rights, is an essential part of the marriage ceremony. The k’suba must contain the full names of the couple, and their names must be spelled correctly.

Contemporary poskim have raised the question of what happens if a spouse’s name has been changed over the course of the marriage—whether due to an illness, G-d forbid, or some other reason—which results in the k’suba no longer being accurate. Oddly, this issue does not seem to have been addressed in previous generations.

There are four differing halachic opinions as to what should be done:

Have a new k’suba written, using the special text for a k’suba d’ishtakach bah ta’usa (a k’suba that was found to have a mistake in it).

Have a new k’suba written with a special text containing the information that a name was added.

Simply add the new information at the bottom of the original k’suba and have two kosher witnesses sign it.

There’s no need to do anything since the k’suba was correct at the time that it was

Due to the differences of opinion, a rav should be consulted if this issue arises.


The Gemara states, “Achal v’lo shasa, achilaso dam”, it’s harmful to eat a meal without drinking, and doing so results in stomach problems. The Gemara similarly states elsewhere that dowsing food with liquid prevents intestinal issues. However, the Rambam suggests that one should drink only a little bit during the meal, and one should drink properly—but not too much—after the food begins being digested.

Aside from these health benefits (which are corroborated by contemporary medical science, l’havdil), there is also a halachic reason for drinking during a meal. According to some poskim, the mitzvah d’Oraisa (Biblical commandment) of bentching (reciting Birchas HaMazon after eating) applies only if one ate and drank. Their opinion is based on the following interpretation of the pasuk (verse), “V’achaltah, v’savatah, u’veirachtah”: “When you eat and are sated by drink, you should recite Birchas HaMazon.

Although it is not the accepted halacha, those who wish to fulfill the mitzvah d’Oraisa of bentching according to all opinions should make it a point to drink during the meal. Moreover, the halacha is that when choosing an individual to lead the zimun (the quorum of three or more for bentching), it’s preferable to choose someone who ate and drank during the meal.


There are some mitzvos that involve women, often in crucial roles, although they aren’t obligated to perform them. One example is peru urvu (the mitzvah of bringing children into the world), which is the obligation of the husband, yet the wife is clearly the key person in implementing it, and she gets a special schar (reward) for being mesayeia (assisting) and enabling her husband to fulfill the mitzvah.

Similarly, the mitzvah of chinuch (Torah-based education) is incumbent upon the father, yet it’s indisputable that the ikar (primary) chinuch is accomplished by the mother who is the akeres habayis (mainstay of the home). This phenomenon is confirmed by the Shaloh who states that she carries the main responsibility for instilling yiras Shamayim (fear of Heaven) into her children.

One chassidic explanation for the seeming discrepancy between who the mitzvos are addressed to and what happens in reality, is that the woman’s role in the family is a given; she inherently understands the importance of bearing children and having a large family, and she also possesses an innate sensitivity and the skills needed to educate her children. Thus, there is no need to explicitly command her to do so.


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