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During the Second Temple, the Greek empire reigned (over Israel),1 and they (the Greeks) passed decrees against the Jews and (tried) to erase their religion, and did not allow them to carry out Torah (study) or the commandments. They put their hands on their property and their daughters. They entered the Temple, destroyed and made the pure unclean. The Jews were in great distress because of them and were much oppressed, until the G-d of their fathers had mercy on them, delivering them from their hands and saving them. Then overcame, the sons of the Hasmonean High Priest, (the Greeks) and killed them and saved the Jews from their hands. They appointed a king from the Priests, and the kingdom of Israel was restored for more than 200 years until the destruction of (the) second (Temple). When the Jews overcame their enemies and destroyed them, it was the 25th of Kislev2 when they entered the Sanctuary (inner room) and did not find pure (olive) oil in the Temple, except one jar sealed with seal of the High Priest, and it did not contain enough to light except for one day only. But they lit from it the lamps of the Menorah3 for eight days, until they could crush olives and produce a (new quantity) of pure oil. For these reasons, decreed the Sages of that generation that these eight days that begin on the 25th Kislev, will be days of joy and praise. One lights on them lamps at evening at the entrance to the houses, every evening of the eight nights to show off and demonstrate the miracle. These days are called ''Hanukah'' that is to say ''they rested'' (chanu) on the ''25'' ('th of the month) because on the 25th they rested from their enemies. and also because of those days they (re)-dedicated the house (Temple) which their foes had defiled. Also some say that it is a commandment to increase slightly the festive meals on Hanukah. Another reason is because the work of (building) the Sanctuary (in the desert) was completed in these days. One should tell one's children the story of the miracles that were done for our fore-fathers in those days, (see Josephus) However, these meals are not considered as part of the commandment unless one says at the meal songs of praise. One should increase charity in these Hanukah days, for this can help mend any defects in our souls. This charity, should be given particularly to poor Torah scholars. (KSA 139:1)
1) 352 BCE until 70 CE
2) 139 BCE
3) The Menorah was made of gold and had seven branches.
In Bereishis (2:15) the posuk tells us that Hashem commanded Adam not to eat from the Eitz Hadaas. The gemara in Sanhedrin (57b) learns from this posuk that goyim have a chiyuv to keep the zayin mitzvas bnei Noach. At what age is a goy mechuyav in the zayin mitzvos Bnei Noach? Is it from the age of thirteen, or is it from a younger age?
The Chasam Sofer in the Teshuvos Yoreh Deah (184) and in Teshuva (317) Shin says that the concept of a Jew becoming Bar Mitzva at thirteen according to the Rosh (16) and Mishna Berura (55) is a halacha l’Moshe miSinai. The Rambam in Hilchos Melachim (9:9) says that shiurim were only given to Jews. It would therefore stand to reason that a goy, even as a koton, would be chayev in the zayin mitzvos. The problem is that the Rambam (10) in Hilchos Melachim (2) says that a goy does not get punished while he is a koton, a cheresh, or a shotah. That is why in Parshas Vayishlach the posuk says that all male adults were killed while the children were captured, not killed. We see that a koton who is a goy does not get punished.
The answer to this query could be that really a goy is chayev in the zayin mitzvos, but as a koton he is just pattur from onesh because he is considered an Ones since he does not have daas. A goy who reaches the age of ben daas is punished if he does not do the zayin mitzvos. This is based on the Shailos U’Tshuvos Maharya, Yoreh Deah (1) and in Minchas Chinuch (190). The Chemdas Yisroel (1:23) argues with this position and says that a goy becomes a bar chiyuva at the age of thirteen.
We can ask the following question regarding the shittos that a goy becomes a bar chiyuva as soon as he becomes a bar daas. The gemara in Nazir (62a) tells us that according to one shitta, the following concept applies to both a Jew and non-Jew. This concept is mufla hasamuch l’ish; a year before a person is Bar Mitzvah he could make a neder; so too, a goy will have the same halacha. But if a goy is already a bar chiyuva when he is a koton bar daas, how could he be chayev a year before when he is not yet a bar daas? The answer could be that the halacha that a goy is a bar chiyuva on mitzvos even while he is a koton is only applicable to mitzvos that are from the zayin mitzvos Bnei Noach. Regarding a mitzvah that is learned from a Jew, like the concept of a neder, the same halacha will apply to a goy as to a Yisroel; he will be responsible a year before age thirteen and not before.
The following question is based on the above premise that a goy is chayev in the zayin mitzvos even at the early age of being a koton. We have a klal in Sanhedrin (59a) that there is nothing that is forbidden to a goy that is muttar for a Jew. Would a koton who is a Jew be responsible for the zayin mitzvos Bnei Noach since there is nothing that is assur for a goy, but muttar for a Yid?
Most achronim including the Ohr Sameach, Nachal Yitzchok and the Minchas Shlomo, to name a few, are of the opinion that a Jew who is a koton is mechuyav in the zayin mitzvos Bnei Noach. The Chelkas Yoav and the Shevet Halevi disagree and say that since he is not a bar daas, he is not mechuyav and the rule of something that is a chiyuv for a goy can’t be muttar for a Yisroel does not apply.
May we be zocheh to be mekayem all mitzvos at the right time, the right age, and the right way.