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.
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