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Nidah 46


QUESTION: Rashi DH Isura explains that the Rabbanan cannot place any obligation (e.g., the obligation to fulfill a vow) upon a minor. Rashi's statement is logically very sound, since the minor is not obligated to accept upon himself their Gezeiros any more than he is obligated in any other Mitzvos of the Torah.

RASHI in Berachos 48a (DH Ad she'Yochal) adds, based on this premise, that even the Rabbinical obligation for a minor to perform, or "practice," Mitzvos ("Chinuch") is not incumbent upon the minor. Rather, it is the *father's* obligation to see to it that his son performs Mitzvos. RAMBAN (in Milchamos, Berachos 20b) explains that for this reason, a minor may not recite Birchas ha'Mazon for a person over the age of Bar Mitzvah even if that person ate less than a k'Zayis of bread (and is obligated in Birchas ha'Mazon only mid'Rabanan). Although the rule normally is that one who is obligated in a Mitzvah mid'Rabanan may exempt another person who is also obligated mid'Rabanan in that Mitzvah, in this case that rule will not apply. A minor is not obligated in Birchas ha'Mazon even mid'Rabanan; his *father* is obligated to see to it that the child recites Birchas ha'Mazon.

Why, then, does RASHI himself (in Berachos 20b DH Shiura) rule that a minor *may* recite Birchas ha'Mazon for a person over the age of Bar Mitzvah if that person ate less than a k'Zayis of bread! This is the opinion of Tosfos (Berachos 15a DH v'Rebbi Yehudah; 48a DH Ad) and the Halachic ruling (Orach Chayim 186:2) as well.

ANSWER: Rashi and Tosfos understood that although a minor is not obligated *at all* in Birchas ha'Mazon in his own right, nevertheless, the Rabanan who decreed that a person who ate less than a k'Zayis must recite Birchas ha'Mazon enacted in their decree that if a minor recites Birchas ha'Mazon for one who ate less than a k'Zayis, it will suffice. The reason they enacted their decree in such a manner was in order to further the cause of Chinuch, by making it *look* to the minor as though he is indeed obligated in Mitzvos in his own right, so that he should regard his obligation in Mitzvos with austerity. (M. Kornfeld)

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