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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Do My Kids Really Need Their OWN Lulav and Esrog?

by Rabbi Avram Schwartz (Posted on October 10, 2019)

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein zt”l (1895-1986) was the preeminent posek for North American Jewry for most of the 20th century, both for the yeshivish and Modern Orthodox communities. Rav Moshe was born in Russia in 1895, where he served as rabbi making great personal sacrifices on behalf of his community until he emigrated to the U.S. in 1937, having determined that it was no longer possible to continue to live as a religious Jew in Russia. He lived on the Lower East Side of New York and served as the Rosh HaYeshivah and head of Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem.  Rav Moshe was active in communal affairs and served as president of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis and Chairman of the Council of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of the Agudath Israel of America.

His teshuvot, Iggrot Moshe, span 9 volumes (the last two published after his death in 1986) and deal with every topic in Shulkhan Arukh and with all the new contemporary challenges that presented themselves to Orthodox American Jewry in the 20th century, from transplants and medical ethics to birth control and abortion, to denominations, conversion, and feminism, and to dishwashers, ovens and microwaves.

Rav Moshe was known for his gentleness, his humanity and his responsiveness to the human condition.  His approach to psak was one which was based primarily on the Gemara and Rishonim, to which brought a conceptual lens for framing halakhic debates.

In the teshuvah below (Iggrot Moshe OH 3:95), Rav Moshe brings this approach to the question of whether a parent must, from the perspective of the mitzvah of hinukh, purchase a lulav and etrog for his child, since on the first days a person must own his or her lulav and etrog, or can he just have the child borrow his own set?  This question was debated by earlier poskim, but Rav Moshe brings to it a conceptual framing.  Is the mitzvah of hinukh, Rav Moshe asks, about habituating the child to a life of mitzvoth or is it about having the child actually fulfil the mitzvah?  The former is parent-focused and future-oriented, the latter is child-focused and oriented to the present.  (In a different teshvuah, Rav Moshe ties this into the question of whether the mitzvah of hinukh is on the parent or on the child).  In this teshuvah, we can see both Rav Moshe’s halakhic methodology and clear formulations, and also his awareness about how our psak in matters of debate might change based on time and circumstances.

Those who wish to learn more about his teshuvot and approach to psak are invited to listen into my podcast, Iggros Moshe A to Z, where we cover topics ranging, literally, from A to Z, starting with America, Birth Control and Conversion.

 

אגרות משה, אורח חיים, ג’:צ”ה

 

באם צריך לקנות אתרוג ומיניו לקטן או שסגי ליתן לו בלא הקנאה שפליגי רבוואתא בזה

 

י”ז כסלו תשכ”ז. מע”כ ידידי הנכבד מופלג בתורה ויר”ש הרה”ג מהר”ר אריה ליב ריימאן שליט”א.

 

הנה בדבר חיוב החינוך במצות אתרוג ומיניו שאיתא בסוכה דף מ”ו אר”ז לא ליקני אינש הושענא לינוקא ביום טוב קמא משום דמקנא קני אקנויי לא מקני ואישתכח דקא נפיק בלולב שאינו שלו, ודאי אין להועיל מה שיקנה לו אחר שכבר יצאו הגדולים דמה יעשה למחר שבאתרוג שאינו שלו נוטלין ולא מברכין משום ספקא דיומא כדאיתא בש”ע סימן תרמ”ט סוף סעיף ה’ פסולי ראשון נוטלין בשני אבל לא מברכין, וכן מסיק הגר”א עיין שם.

אבל איכא מחלוקת דיש סוברין שיכול ליתן להקטן בלא הקנאה ויצא בזה ידי חינוך אף שבאמת לא יצא כלל בזה שום מצוה והויא ברכה לבטלה, משום דלא איכפת לן בחינוך שיהיה קיום מצוה, דסגי במה שנדמה להקטן שעושה מצוה, דכן צריך לומר להראב”ן שהביא הג”א שתופס עם התינוק כדי שלא יקנה התינוק.

אבל המג”א כתב בסימן תרנ”ח סק”ח שהקטן לא יצא שלפי דבריו כתב במ”ב ס”ק כ”ח דשפיר דמי שכתב בש”ע כשתופס עם התינוק הוא לענין שהגדול יכול לצאת בו אח”כ אבל הקטן לא יצא ולא קיים בו אביו מצות חינוך וכן סוברים עוד הרבה אחרונים. ומשמע שכן סובר המחבר בסימן תרנ”ז שכתב אביו חייב לקנות לו לולב…

והנה ראיה גדולה יש להביא מחגיגה דף ו’ דבעי רשב”ל בקטן חיגר לב”ש שיכול להתפשט ובסומא שיכול להתפתח אם חייב האב להביאו לעזרה לקיים מצות עליה לרגל, ופירשו התוס’ שהבעיא היא בחיגר שיתפשט וסומא שיתפתח לפני גידולו דמי אמרינן דכיון דכשיוגדל יתחייב מדאורייתא דהא לא יהיה חיגר וסומא חייב בחינוך דהטעם הוא לחנכו דידע לקיים כשהוא גדול, א”ד כיון דגדול בהכי לא מיחייב גם קטן לא, ופשיט אביי דכל היכי דגדול פטור קטן נמי פטור עיין שם.

ומסתבר שתלוי בהכי דאם ענין החינוך הוא אף באופן שליכא שום קיום מצוה מאחר דלפי דעת הקטן לא יכיר בזה דאין לו הבחנה בין אתרוג שלו לאתרוג של אחרים ויתחנך בזה להתרגל לקיים מצות אתרוג, יש לחייב תינוק חיגר וסומא שיתפשט ויתפתח קודם גידולו להעלותו לחנכו כיון דהא צריך לחנך גם אותו כתינוק שלם שג”כ פטור ומחוייבין לחנכו בשביל חיוב הגדלות.

ואם חיוב חינוך הוא שחייבו לאביו לראות שיקיים גם בנו הקטן המצות משום שלא שייך לחייבו בדבר שאינו מצוה לומר לו שהוא מצוה, אף שיתחנך מזה ולכן צריך גם באתרוג דקטן שיהיה שלו דוקא אף שלקטן אין לו שום הבחנה בזה, לכן גם בחיגר וסומא עתה שאם היה גדול היה פטור גם להקטן יש לפטור, אף שיהיה מזה ענין חינוך דלא שייך עכ”פ לחייבו בזה. ומאחר שהדין הוא כדפשיט אביי, נמצא שחיוב החינוך הוא דוקא באופן שהוא חיוב אם היה גדול, יש לחייב להאב לקנות דוקא אתרוג מיוחד לכל קטן וקטן…

ולכן זה שהקלו במדינותינו ביוראפ כהראב”ן היה זה משום העניות שלא היה באפשרי דרוב בני העירות לא היה אף לעצמן אתרוג אלא ברכו באתרוג של הקהל ולא קיימו אף בעצמן מצות הנענועים בהלל, אבל בעצם הדין היה לן להחמיר שכן הוא שיטת הרמב”ם והטור והמחבר והמג”א ורוב האחרונים וכהראיה מגמ’ דחגיגה /דף ו’/ כדלעיל, ולכן במדינתנו אמעריקא שב”ה השפיע בחסדו שפע ברכתו, וגם יש להשיג אתרוג ומיניו כשרים בזול, יש לכל אחד להחמיר כמו שראוי להורות לדינא ולקנות בעד כל קטן וקטן אתרוג ומיניו ביחוד שיהיה שלו ממש ויקיים האב מצות החינוך שעליו כדין.

והנני ידידו,

משה פיינשטיין

Iggrot Moshe OH 3:95

Whether one must buy an etrog and the other species for a child, or whether it is sufficient simply to give the four species to the child without transferring ownership, noting that there is a dispute among the authorities on this question.

17 Kislev 5727 (Nov. 30, 1966). To my friend Rav Aryeh Leib Reiman.

I am writing with regard to the obligation of hinukh, to train a child to keep the mitzvah of the four species. The Gemara in Sukkah (46) states: “Said Rabbi Zera: A person should not transfer ownership of the four species to a child on the first day of Yom Tov, as a child can acquire the lulav but can’t transfer ownership back, and if one then attempted to use the lulav for the mitzvah, he would not fulfil his obligation, as he would be using a lulav that was not his.” For us, it is clear that one can’t simply transfer ownership of the lulav to his child after the adults had already used it for the mitzvah, for then he would be stuck on the following day with a lulav and etrog that he does not own. Since we treat the second day of Yom Tov as if it might be the first day, he would not be able to recite a blessing in such a case, as we rule in Shulkhan Arukh OH 649:5, that a lulav and etrog which are invalid on the first day can be taken on the second day, but no brakhah may be recited over them (see Gra there).

Now, there is a dispute on this issue. Some hold that one can give the lulav and etrog to the child without transferring ownership, and that this suffices to satisfy one’s obligation of hinukh. This is so even though the child performs no mitzvah and actually pronounces an unnecessary blessing; for the sake of hinukh it is irrelevant to us whether the mitzvah has actually been fulfilled by the minor.  It is sufficient that the child thinks they are performing a mitzvah. This is how one must understand the position of Ra’avan cited by Hagahot Ashri, that one should hold the species along with the child so that the latter does not acquire ownership.

However, Magen Avraham (658 no. 8) writes that in such a case the minor does not fulfil his obligation.  Based on this, Mishneh Brurah (no. 28) writes that the ruling of Shulkhan Arukh that the parent should hold the species with the child, is only meant to ensure the parent will still be able to fulfill the mitzvah of lulav afterwards. However, the child has done no mtizvah (because he does not own the lulav), and the father has not fulfilled the mtizvah of hinukh. Many other Ahronim hold this way as well. It appears that Shulhan Arukh agrees with this latter position as well, as in OH 657 he writes that a father must buy a lulav for his child (which according to the first position would be unnecessary)…

There is a great proof to be found in the gemara in Hagigah (6a).  There the Gemara had stated that an adult man who is lame or blind would be exempt from Aliyah la’regel, from the pilgrimage obligation.  Reish Lakish then asks regarding a child who was lame, but who would later regain use of his legs, or a child who was blind but who would in the future regain his sight, whether his father would be obligated, from the perspective of hinukh, to bring him to the Temple courtyard in fulfillment of the mitzvah of making a pilgrimage on the festival. Tosafot explain that the question applies to a boy who would become fully able before the age of majority. Do we say that since the obligation would apply on a biblical level in adulthood, when the child would be neither blind nor lame, the father has an obligation of hinukh now, or do we say that since an adult would not fulfil his obligation in this current state, then as a child he (the child) is also exempt?  Abaye answers this query and rules that since an adult in this state is exempt, then as a child he is also exempt, see there.

It seems logical that this depends on the distinction I drew above as to the nature of hinukh.  If the obligation of hinukh is about habituation, then it applies even in a case where the mitzvah is not being fulfilled, provided that the child is not aware that he is doing the mitzvah in this invalid way – as it is indiscernible whether it is his etrog or someone else’s – since he will therefore become habituated in doing the mitzvah of etrog.  Following this approach, we should obligate the parent to bring his  child who is lame or blind but would will recover the use of their legs or eyes on Aliyah la’regel since this will successfully habituate the child in this mitzvah, and this is no different from hinukh for any other child who is also exempt right now from doing the mitzvah.  The focus is not on the mitzvah being done now, but on habituating him for the future.

On the other hand, it may be that the obligation of hinukh is that it is the father’s responsibility not to habituate, but to ensure that his child, even as a minor, fulfils the mitzvah; for it would not make sense to obligate the child to do something that was not a mitzvah and to tell him that it was a mitzvah, even if this would successfully habituate him to this practice.  If this is the case, then a child must have their own etrog even if they don’t know the difference, and likewise a blind or lame child is exempt from being brought on pilgrimage, since in this state as an adult they would be exempt, and hence they would not be doing any mitzvah now as a minor. Although this might accomplish some degree of habituation, the obligation of hinukh simply does not apply unless they would fulfill the mitzvah properly. Since the law follows Abbaye’s answer, then we follow the latter explanation: the obligation to educate is fulfilled only when the child’s actions would fulfill the mitzvah as an adult, and so a parent must buy every child their own etrog….

Therefore, the fact that in our countries in Europe we were lenient like Ra’avan was a function of the poverty that did not allow us to buy a lulav and etrog for every child. It was not possible even for most adults to have their own etrog, and instead they took turns using the community’s etrog and reciting the blessing over it, and were not able themselves to do the wavings of the lulav during hallel either (since there was only one full set owned by the community). However, as a matter of proper halakha under non-exigent circumstances, we should be strict, following Rambam, Tur, Shulhan Arukh, Magen Avraham, and Ahronim, as well as the proof from Hagigah above. Here in America, where, God be praised, He has given in his kindness great blessing, and anyone can get a kosher set of four species inexpensively, every person should be stringent to follow the law and buy a set for every child. In that way, a father can fulfill his mitzvah of educating his children in full.

Your friend,

Moshe Feinstein