The final Mishna in our perek closes with the statement “a minor who knows how to wave [a lulav] is obligated in the mitzva of lulav.” This is one of the statements in the Mishna that teach the concept of hinukh – of educating children before they are obligated in mitzvot on a biblical level. The baraita that appears in the Gemara expands on this idea, enumerating commandments that a child becomes obligated in – for reasons of education – as soon as he knows how to perform them. Aside from lulav they include:
- A child who knows how to wrap himself in clothing is obligated in tzitzit.
- When a child knows how to take care of tefillin, his father should purchase a pair for him.
- When he knows how to speak, his father should teach him Torah and keri’at shema.
- The child of a kohen who knows how to bless the congregation can already receive tithes.
- Once a child can eat and recognize food, he should be included in the korban Pesah and a ka-zayit (an olive-size piece) of the sacrifice should be set aside for him.
Rav Hamnuna explains that teaching Torah does not mean learning complicated ideas, rather the passage in (33:4) that emphasizes the connection between the Torah and the Jewish people. The Yerushalmi interprets the baraita to mean that a child who is old enough to learn to speak should be taught lashon Torah – the language of the Torah – that is to say, he should be taught how to speak Hebrew. Once he knows Hebrew he should be taught keri’at shema.
Rabbenu Yehonatan explains the idea of the kohen’s son participating in blessing the congregation as a public statement that he is a kohen, removing any suspicion that he is living in the kohen’s house as a guest or even as an eved – a slave. Once this statement is made, he is permitted to receive terumah like any kohen.