Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility Skip to content

Din & Daf: Katan – The Evolution of a Category

Din & Daf: Conceptual Analysis of Halakha Through Case Study with Dr. Elana Stein Hain

קטן וקטנה – The Evolution of a Category

Dr. Elana Stein Hain – dinanddaf@hadran.org.il

Printable source sheet

Is the age of adulthood 12 (for girls) and 13 (for boys) in every realm of halakhah? The answer might surprise you. In rabbinic literature, the age of adulthood originally ranged depending on the issue and the person, but at some stage it was established as a uniform 12 for girls and 13 for boys. This shiur describes this evolution. This shiur is the third in a series on the halakhic classification of חרש.ת שוטה וקטנ.ה, Shoteh, Cheresh and Katan.

This shiur is based on an article by Rabbi Dr. Yitzchak Gilat, found here.

Available as a podcast or video shiur:

Listen here:

Watch here:

Part 1:

Din & Daf: Who is a Shotah/Shoteh?

Part 2:

Din & Daf: Cheresh – Does a deaf person have the halakhic status of חרש.ת today?

Sources:

  • משנה אבות ה:כא

Uniform age for males?

הוּא (=יהודה בן תימא) הָיָה אוֹמֵר, בֶּן חָמֵשׁ שָׁנִים לַמִּקְרָא, בֶּן עֶשֶׂר לַמִּשְׁנָה, בֶּן שְׁלשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה לַמִּצְוֹת…

He would say: at the age of five, one is ripe for Bible, at ten, for Mishnah, at thirteen, for mitzvot

  • משנה חגיגה א:א

(Physical) capability as deciding variable?

הכל חייבים בראיה, חוץ מחרש שוטה וקטן… איזהו קטן? – כל שאינו יכול לרכוב על כתפיו של אביו ולעלות מירושלים להר הבית, דברי בית שמאי, ובית הלל אומרים: כל שאינו יכול לאחוז בידו של אביו ולעלות מירושלים להר הבית, שנאמר שלש רגלים.

All are obligated in re’iyah (appearing at pilgrimage festival at the mikdash with a korban) except one who deaf and cannot speak, one gripped by psychosis or delusion and a minor….Whos considered a minor? One who cannot ride on his fathers shoulders from the entrance of Jerusalem to the Temple Mount, per Beit Shammai. Beit Hillel say: (a minor is) whoever cannot walk from the entrance of Jerusalem to the Temple Mount holding his father’s hand, as is said, “three pilgrimages (lit. feet)” 

  • משנה סוכה ב:ח 

(Physical) capability as deciding variable?

נשים ועבדים וקטנים פטורים מן הסוכה. קטן שאינו צריך לאמו, חיב בסוכה. מעשה וילדה כלתו של שמאי הזקן, ופחת את המעזיבה וסכך על גבי המטה בשביל הקטן.

Women, slaves and minors are exempt from the requirement of dwelling in the sukkah. A minor who is not dependent on his mother (to take care of him constantly) is obligated to dwell in a sukkah. There was a case where Shammai’s daughter-in-law gave birth, and he removed some of the ceiling plaster and put sekhakh on top of his daughter-in-law’s bed for the minor.

  • מכילתא דרשב”י, עמ’ 41, ובמכילתא דר’ ישמעאל, בא, פרשה יז, מהדורת הורוביץ-רבין, עמ’ 68. 

Executive Functioning as deciding variable?

לפי שנאמר והיה לך לאות על ידך, שומע אני אף הקטנים במשמע, והדין נותן, הואיל ומזוזה מצות עשה, ותפלין מצות עשה, אם למדת על מזוזה שהיא נוהגת בקטנים כבגדולים, (יכול) אף תפלין ינהגו בקטנים כגדולים. תלמוד לומר ושמרת את החוקה הזאת, לא אמרתי אלא במי שיודע לשמור את תפליו. מכאן אמרו חכמים קטן היודע לשמור את תפליו, הרי הוא עושה לו תפלין (במכילתא דרשב”י: חייב בתפלין).

Because it is said, “And it shall be a sign on your arm,” I might think that minors are included. And it is logical a fortiori: as both mezuzah and tefillin are positive commandments, if you learned that mezuzah applies to minors as to adults, perhaps the same should be the case regarding tefillin. Therefore, the verse says, “And you shall guard this law” – I only said that one who can safeguard tefillin (is obligated in it). From here the sages said: a minor who knows how to safeguard their tefillin, he should make him tefillin (Mekhilta of R. Shimon bar Yohai: is obligated to wear tefillin).

  • משנה שקלים א:א-ג:

Public adulthood?

באחד באדר משמיעין על השקלים… בחמשה עשר בו שלחנות היו יושבין במדינה. בעשרים וחמשה ישבו במקדש. משישבו במקדש התחילו למשכן. את מי ממשכנין? לויים וישראלים, גרים ועבדים משוחררים, אבל לא נשים ועבדים וקטנים…

On the first day of Adar, they announce the requirement to give half a shekel (to purchase the communal sacrifices starting from 1 Nissan)…On the fifteenth of Adar, money changers would sit in the province (to exchange currencies for shekalim). On the 25th of Adar, they sat in the Temple. From the time they sat in the Temple, they began to seize collateral (from those who had not given their half shekel yet). From whom did they collect collateral?  From Levites and Israelites, converts and freed slaves, but not from women, slaves or minors (=under age 20, per Shemot 30:14). 

  • משנה נידה ו:יא

Physical maturity for fe/males?  

תינוקת שהביאה שתי שערות חולצת או מתיבמת וחייבת בכל המצות האמורות בתורה. וכן תינוק שהביא שתי שערות חייב בכל המצוות האמורות בתורה…

A girl who produced two pubic hairs may either perform halitzah or be married through yibum and is obligated in all commandments of the Torah. Likewise a boy who produced two pubic hairs is obligated in all commandments in the Torah…

  • משנה נידה ה:ו

Mental capacity or age?

בת אחת עשרה שנה ויום אחד נדריה נבדקין. בת שתים עשרה ויום אחד נדריה קיימין, ובודקין כל שתים עשרה. בן שתים עשרה שנה ויום אחד נדריו נבדקין. בן שלש עשרה שנה ויום אחד נדריו קיימין, ובודקין כל שלש עשרה. קודם לזמן הזה, אף על פי שאמרו: “יודעים אנו לשם מי נדרנו, לשם מי הקדשנו”. אין נדריהם נדר, ואין הקדשן הקדש. לאחר הזמן הזה, אף על פי שאמרו: “אין אנו יודעים לשם מי נדרנו, לשם מי הקדשנו” – נדרן נדר, והקדשן הקדש.

A girl who is 11 years and 1 day old, her vows are examined (i.e., if she knows to whose name she vowed, her vow is valid). A girl who is 12 years and one day old her vows are effective. And throughout the twelfth year, they examine (whether she knows to whom she has vowed). A boy who is 12 years and 1 day old, his vows are examined (i.e., if he knows to whose name he vowed, his vow is valid). A boy who is 13 years and 1 day old, his vows are valid. And through the thirteenth year, they examine (whether he knows to whom he has vowed). Before this time, even if they said: “We know to whom we have vowed and to whom we have consecrated,” their vow is null as is their consecration. After this time, even if they said, “We do not know to whom we have vowed, to whom we have consecrated,” their vow and their consecration are still valid.

 

Dr. Elana Stein Hain is the Rosh Beit Midrash and a senior research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. Passionate about bringing Torah into conversation with contemporary life, she teaches Talmud from the Balcony, an occasional learning seminar exposing the big ideas, questions, and issues motivating Talmudic discussions; she authored Circumventing the Law: Rabbinic Perspectives on Legal Loopholes and Integrity (pre-order discount code: PENN-ESHAIN30) which uses halakhic loopholes as a lens for understanding rabbinic views on law and ethics; and she co-hosts For Heaven’s Sake, a bi-weekly podcast with Donniel Hartman and Yossi Klein Halevi, exploring contemporary issues related to Israel and the Jewish world. Elana has also started TEXTing; a podcast where she and guest scholars study Torah texts that engage issues of the moment for the Jewish world. She lives in Manhattan with her beloved family.

 


Hadran’s Beyond the Daf shiurim are now also available by podcast on

Spotify

Apple Podcasts 

YouTube

Beyond the Daf is where you will discover enlightening shiurim led by remarkable women, delving deep into the intricacies of Talmudic teachings, and exploring relevant and thought-provoking topics that arise from the Daf.

Dr. Elana Stein Hain

Dr. Elana Stein Hain is the Rosh Beit Midrash and a senior research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. Passionate about bringing Torah into conversation with contemporary life, she teaches Talmud from the Balcony, an occasional learning seminar exposing the big ideas, questions, and issues motivating talmudic discussions; she authored Circumventing the Law: Rabbinic Perspectives on Legal Loopholes and Integrity (pre-order discount code: PENN-ESHAIN30) which uses halakhic loopholes as a lens for understanding rabbinic views on law and ethics; and she co-hosts For Heaven’s Sake, a bi-weekly podcast with Donniel Hartman and Yossi Klein Halevi, exploring contemporary issues related to Israel and the Jewish world. In mid-January, Elana will be starting a new podcast called TEXTing, where she and guest scholars study Torah texts that engage issues of the moment for the Jewish world. She lives in Manhattan with her beloved family.
Scroll To Top