There we were, a bunch of preteen kids, sitting around the kitchen table on Yom Kippur afternoon, deep in a heated debate. We had just finished eating our “Yom Kippur seudah,” complete with hot cholent and all (“The easiest food ever to serve your kids,” my mother claimed), and now we were ready to bentch. The problem was, we couldn’t agree on whether or not to say “Ya’aleh V’yavo” in bentching. Some of my siblings were of the opinion that we should (“Yom Kippur is a Yom Tov, silly! Of course we say it!”). The rest of us thought that we should not, because the bentcher did not give the option of Yom Kippur in its list of occasions for saying “Ya’aleh V’yavo” (“So for sure we don’t! You don’t know what you’re talking about!”). Of course no one thought of finding an adult and asking him or her what we should do; that would be way too easy!
What we ended up doing, I don’t remember. But the memory of arguing with my siblings over what the halachah was for us, a group of ketanim, stays with me and makes me chuckle when I think of it. Whether or not the barbs we threw at each other was quite in the Yom Kippur spirit, we did mean well—and hey, the argument occupied us for a decent amount of time, keeping us out of our parents’ hair for a bit more of the day!
The truth is, in addition to the above question that we kids came up with on that Yom Kippur, there are many, many sheilos that arise constantly in regard to the halachos pertaining to children.
Does a father need to buy daled minim for his under-bar-mitzvah-aged son? Can a boy dress up as a girl on Purim, and vice versa? May one diaper a baby in a room where there are sefarim? Does a two-year-old need to wait at all between eating a meat meal and drinking milk?
Rabbi Dovid Weinberger, noted rav, posek, and author, has contributed a jewel to the Torah world with the publication of his sefer Shema Beni—Halachos of Children and Chinuch Habanim. In this book, Rabbi Weinberger offers a clear and concise primer of the halachos, mitzvos, and customs applicable to minors, as well as the adults surrounding them. He discusses the many chinuch-related halachic questions that come up frequently in every Jewish household with children, and provides documented source material, from the Shulchan Aruch and leading poskim, both past and present, for everything.
If you are a parent who frequently finds yourself wondering if and how various halachos pertain to your child, you will want to check out this sefer.
And by the way, according to page 62 in the book, children, who are permitted to eat on Yom Kippur, do say “Ya’aleh V’yavo” in Birkas Hamazon.
(“See? I told you so!”)
Click here to purchase online.