Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Shabbos 121a - A Child Doing Melacha For His Father

There is a pasuk in this weeks parsha that is very difficult to figure out how exactly chazal interpret it and is crucial halacha l'ma'aseh.
ויום השביעי שבת לה' אלקיך, לא תעשה כל מלאכה אתה ובנך ובתך עבדך ואמתך ובהמתך וגרך אשר בשעריך
What is the prohibition of בנך ובתך, not having children do work on Shabbos? Does it mean that when children do a melacha of violating Shabbos, the parent(s) are in violation of this issur d'oraysa?
Rashi on the Torah writes -אלו קטנים וכו' אלא לא בא אלא להזהיר גדולים על שביתת הקטנים, וזהו ששנינו קטן שבא לכבות אין שומעין לו מפני ששביתתו עליך. It seems from Rashi that any time a child would do melacha on Shabbos, the parents are in violation of this prohibition by allowing them to do melacha. According to this, it would be similar to shevisas b'hemto where an animal doing melacha would constitute a Torah violation on the owner.
According to Rashi, the sugya of the gemara is very difficult to read. The gemara suggests that the issur in telling a child to extinguish a fire, which the Mishna explains is prohibited because שביתתו עליהן, is predicated on the concept that קטן האוכל נבילות, בית דין מצווין להפרישו. However, the gemara isn't content explaining the Mishna based on that opinion since it contradicts R. Yochanan's opinion in Yevamos (who we pasken like) that אין ב"ד מצווין להפרישו. Therefore the gemara concludes that we are speaking when he is עושה לדעת אביו. Rashi explains that if a child does a melacha because he knows his father wants it done and will be happy about it, the father must stop him from doing it. If Rashi (על התורה) is correct that a father is prohibited from even allowing his child to do a melacha on shabbos, why doesn't the gemara say that the issur is an issur of שביתת בנו ובתו which is an issur d'oraysa? The Mizrachi (on rashi in chumash) and the Netziv (Meishiv Davar siman 20) ask this question and conclude that this must be what the gemara means. When the gemara says that we are speaking about a child who is doing it FOR his father, the gemara is being מגדיר the issur of שביתת בנו ובתו and telling us that the issur in the Torah applies only when the child is doing it for the father. According to this approach, certainly if a father would tell a child to do a melacha on Shabbos the father would be violating a Torah prohibition because the child will be doing it for the father. The S'forno and Ramban both seem to follow this approach as well. The S'forno explains that the pasuk is referring to קטנים העושים לדעת אביהם, and the Ramban explains  - הזהירנו בשבת שלא יעשו הבנים הקטנים מלאכה לדעתנו וברצוננו.
This is also me'duyak in Rashi in the Mishna - Rashi contrasts a goy with a child and says that a Jew is not obligated on the שביתה of a goy, "who is not his slave". The implication of Rashi is that the same issur that we have on a child would apply to a slave, which is the continuation of the pasuk, but not to a regular goy. This is also explicit in the Ramban (hasagos to shoresh 14 of sefer hamitzvos of Rambam - cited by sefer hachinuch) where he explains the la'av of mechamer and writes paranthetically -
אבל על מלאכת בהמתו לא מיחייב אלא שמוזהר עליה בלאו כמו במלאכת בנו הקטן ועבדו הכנעני. The Ramban considers the melacha done by a child similar to a slave or animal, on which the father is in violation (but doesn't explicitly stipulate that it is only if he does it FOR the father).
The difficulty with this approach is the continuation of the gemara -
 דכוותה גבי נכרי דקא עביד לדעתיה דישראל מי שרי, נכרי לדעתיה דנפשיה עביד. The gemara asks that if we are speaking about a child who is extinguishing for the father, would a similar situation be permitted for a goy to do a melacha for a Jew? To which the gemara says that we would always consider a goy doing it for himself. But, what is the question of the gemara to begin with. A child doing melacha for a father would be a violation of שביתת בנו ובתו but a goy doing melacha for a Jew is not included in any pasuk. It must be that the gemara is asking that if the mishna is speaking about a child doing melacha for a father which would be an issur d'oraysa, the contrast to a goy would not make sense because when a goy does a melacha for a Jew it should at least be an issur d'rabonon.
The Minchas Chinuch (end of mo'seich ha'shabbos) says he doesn't understand the Ramban. If a father would feed issur to a child such as put a nap sack on his back and bring the child carrying the nap sack from reshus hayachid to reshus ha'rabim, the father would be in violation of לא תאכילם which is the general prohibition of not feeding issur to children. But a father is not in violation of this Torah prohibition when his child decides to do a melacha. The Minchas Chinuch ends by writing:
ולא מצאתי בשום מקום דיהיה מצווה על שביתת אלו בניו הקטנים. It is very unclear how he would interpret the pasuk in chumash that says לא תעשה מלאכה וגו' ובנך ובתך! It is also very strange that he missed Rashi in Chumash who also considers any melacha done by children to be a violation of their father (which we qualified based on the gemara to refer to ONLY when done FOR the father).
Rashi in Yevamos 114a explains that a child doing a melacha על דעת אביו is prohibited becasue it is as if the father commanded him to do it. It is not clear if Rashi means that it would therefore be the prohibition of לא תאכילום that we learn from dam, sheratzim and tu'mah, or if Rashi means that it would then be a violation of שביתת בנו ובתו. If Rashi means the latter, then he is essentially being magdir the issur of שביתת בנו ובתו to only when the father tells his child to do a melacha or when the child does it for him since that is as if he told the child to do it.
On a slightly different note, the Netziv in his teshuvos (Meishiv Davar #20) discusses whether it is permitted for a father to tell a child to violate an issur d'rabonon on shabbos. He points out that based on the Ran and Rashba in our sugya who consider the melacha of extiguishing a fire to be a מלאכה שא"צ לגופה which is only assur d'rabonon, yet the gemara says that a child doing it לדעת אביו would be assur, and according to Rashi in chumash even a Torah prohibition (on something which is d'oraysa), we see clearly that it's assur. However, the Netziv is medayek from the Rambam and Shulchan Aruch a tremendous chiddush. The Shulchan Aruch O.C. 343 writes:
קטן אוכל נבילות אין ב"ד מצווין להפרישו וכו' ולהאכילו בידים אסור אפילו דברים שאסורים מדברי סופרים, וכן אסור להרגילו בחילול שבת ומועד ואפילו בדברים שהם משום שבות. The language of the Shulchan Aruch implies that non-kosher food, even if only assur m'drabonon cannot be fed to a child. But, when it comes to chilul shabbos, it is only assur to get him accustomed to violating shabbos regularly. The rationale is that non-kosher food is metamtem the heart and therefore a worse violation than shabbos. Although an melacha d'oraysa would be assur to "feed" a child even as a one time thing, an issur d'rabonon of shabbos is only assur to "feed" him on a regular basis. However, to fit this with a braisa in Yevamos he backs off a little and says that anytime it is being done for a non-mitzvah purpose, we are afraid that you will do it more regularly and therefore forbidden, but if being done for a mitzvah purpose such as asking a child to carry a siddur to shul through a karmelis, it is permitted.

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