Mezuzah & Children

Tuesday, 28 November, 2017 - 12:54 pm


Mezuzah & Children

With Rabbi Mordechai Z. Hecht -


Q. Are children obligated in Mezuzah?


The Tannaic sages of the Mishna state: ”Women, servants and children…are obligated in prayer, mezuzah and grace after meals”.  (Mishna, Berochos Ch. 3, Mishna 3.[See Sefer HaItur, Shar 1, Laws of Tefilin 61, Tur 3])


The code of Jewish Law codifies that: “…We educate the children to place a mezuzah on their doors”  (S”A Yoreh Deah, Tur 291.S”A, Yorah deah 291,63)

Maimonides rules as well, like the words of the mishna itself: “All are obligated in Mezuzah, even women and servants, and we educate the children to placemezuzahs on their doors in their homes.”  (Laws of Tefillin, Mezuzah, Sefer Torah Ch.5,5)


The Commentary on Miamonides the Kesef Mishna explains, what does it mean ‘they are obligated’ - it means the parents are obligated to educate them in this mitzvah accordingly. (K”M T. Berochos 17b)


Does this mean they are obligated in the same way adults are obligated?Do they watch their parents place it on their doors, or even on the child’s door as well?


The Chinuch states (Mitzvah 423)”A mute, an imbocile and a child are not obligated in mitzvos”, rather we educate them in doing so, as we mentioned above.


Does this mean they should place the Mezuzah on their doors themselves?

This is a matter of great debate amongst the codifiers.  The Aruch Hashulchan adds, (S”A 286,63) “It appears to me that even a room designated only for children needs a mezuzah, because of the “mitzvah to educate them in this mitzvah”. Furthermore, children who don’t have parents, (or a child who inherited the space: See Shu”s Torah Lishmah 307) may place the mezuzah themselves, and when they become adults shall reaffix the mezuzah. Otherwise parents should do it. If a child did it for the parent/adult it should be reaffixed. If one did not, it’s fine, the main thing there is a mezuzah on the door, withstanding/regardless of how it got there.

With that said, various contemporary codifiers conclude based on the words of the Rambam, that the affixing is primary and as all mitzvahs must be done properly by an ‘adult only’ and this is the best way for it to be done. The Rambam states that the blessing on Mezuzah (like on Tzitzis) is not made on the writing of the mezuzah or the making of the Tzitzis but rather preceisley when it’s affixed, as this is the primary component of the biblical and or Rabbinical parts of these mitzvahs, hence concluding  that it’s vital that an adult does it – albeit the child be taught how it’s done properly. (Shevet Levi 2, 158. See Magen Avraham 19,1. See Eretz Tzvi 15)


In reality the child should do it with a blessing on their room alone, as this is the seeming understanding of the words of the Shulchan Aruch – code of  Jewish law mentioned above, 291. All other spaces should be done by an adult accordingly.(Tsitz Eliezer ,75. Yalkut Yosef, Sovah Semochos,Mezuzah, 14)


What about a room for a nanny who takes care of children, or may reside in the room with an infant?


From the words of the Aruch Hashluchan it seems even though a room may be desginated for them only, since it’s in the house of the adult Jew, the room should have a mezuzah as well, unlike when you rent your property to a non Jew and you don’t live yourself in that dwelling.


Parents: When a parents places a mezuzah on a child’s room door, they fulfill 2 mitzvahs, one the mitzvah of mezuzah and 2 the mitzvah of educating children.

An afterthought on this matter may be: that as we find in many other aspects of educating children includes many mitzvahs where the child themselves would make the blessing such in prayer, Shabbos candles or Tzitzis or grace after meals etc.. Thefore in the realm of education, it would seem quite proper that here too, the child make the blessing oneself upon the special itzvah of affixingthe mezuzah.


Rabbi Hecht can be reached at: [email protected]

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