By Rabbi Chaim Hillel Raskin, Moreh Hora’ah of Beis Horaa Rechovot, Israel
Besides the general obligation of chinuch, that a father must ensure that his children observe mitzvos in their precise manner, the mitzvah of eating in the sukkah obligates the child as well. Chazal expound the possuk, “all Jewish citizens should sit in the sukkah,” that “all” is coming to include children. This obligation is midrabanan.
On the first night of Sukkos one is obligated to eat a kazayis of bread in the sukkah (unlike the rest of Sukkos when one must only eat in the sukkah if he wants to eat). A child must observe this mitzvah due to chinuch.4
The age of chinuch for sukkah is when a child is not completely dependent on his mother (he can go back to sleep if he awakes during the night, and he can take care of himself in the restroom). The Alter Rebbe sets this age at six-years-old, or five-years-old if the child is particularly sharp.
Simply understood, the reason such a child is exempt is since we are not obligated to separate him from his mother (who is not obligated to eat in the sukkah). However, some acharonim explain that the mitzvah of chinuch is to accustom the child to fulfil the obligation that he will have to perform when he is older. Since one who is pained is exempt from sitting in the sukkah, there is no obligation to separate the child from his mother thereby paining him to sit in the sukkah, since if he would face a similar situation when he is older he would be exempt.
It is the father’s obligation to ensure that his son eats in the sukkah, and he must reprimand him if he doesn’t. While some poskim write that the mother also carries part of the obligation, especially when the father is not around, the Alter Rebbe concludes that the mother may offer him food outside of the sukkah, but may not feed him or instruct him to eat outside of the sukkah.
Of course, the mandatory chinuch for sukkah only applies to bread or cake which must be eaten in the sukkah, but not to water or fruit which are only a minhag.
1. סוכה כ”ח ע”ב. ויקרא כ”ג מ”ב.
2. ראה שוע”ר או”ח סי’ שמ”ג ס”ב, לקו”ש חל”ה עמ’ 61.
3. שוע”ר סי’ תרל”ט סי”ז.
4. וראה פסקי תשובה ח”א דף ל”ה שע”פ שיטת רש”י בגדר מצוות חינוך י”ל צריך הקטן לאכול כביצה להיחשב קביעות, משא”כ בגדול שמצוותי’ אחשבי, אבל ראה חינוך הבנים כהלכתם פרק ק’ סי”א שדעתו שלהלכה מספיק כזית וראה לקו”ש חי”ז ע’ 234 ושם הע’ 27.
5. שם, עירובין פ”ב ע”א.
6. שוע”ר סי’ תר”מ ס”ג.
7. שוע”ר סי’ תר”מ ס”ב
8. גרי”ז ערכין ב’ ע”ב, ודומה לזה שו”ת אבנ”ז או”ח סי’ תפ”א סק”ח.
9. שוע”ר שם ס”ד.
10. ראה נט”ג סוכות פרק ס”ה דין ב’.
11. מג”א סי’ תר”מ סק”ג, שוע”ר שם.
12. ישועת חכמה על קצשו”ע סי’ קל”ה אות ו’. וראה חינוך הבנים כהלכתו פרק ק’ סי”ג.
13. ראה שוע”ר תרל”ט ס”ז וסי”א.
Published in lmaan Yishmeu, a newsletter from MerkazAnash.com