Sunday, November 18, 2007

Blessing by a Bas Mitzvah

The Rema (O”C 225:2) writes that one whose son is becoming bar mitzvah should recite the following blessing: Blessed are You, Hashem, our God, King of the universe, that You freed me from the punishment due this boy. He concludes that it is preferable to recite this blessing without mentioning Hashem’s name.

The question is asked: Why is this blessing not recited when one’s daughter becomes bas mitzvah?

The Peri Megadim states that it would depend on what the reason is for this blessing.

The Magen Avraham (ibid; 5) explains this blessing as follows: Up until this juncture, the father was punished when his son sinned because he obviously did not train him well enough. Once the child becomes an adult, he is responsible for his own actions.

The Levush, however, interprets this blessing in the exact opposite manner. Up until now, the child gets punished for the sins of his father, as the Gemora Shabbos (32b) states: For the sin of unfulfilled vows, a person’s children die when they are young. The meaning of the blessing is that his son will now not incur any punishments on account of the parents.

According to the Levush, there is no reason to make any distinction between a son and a daughter. However, according to the Magen Avraham, we can say that the blessing is only applicable to a son, where there is an obligation of chinuch. However, a father does not have a mitzvah of chinuch for a daughter and therefore there is no reason to recite the blessing when she becomes bas mitzvah.

The Kaf Hachayim writes that we can apply a different logic according to the Magen Avraham. It is customary for a father to sustain his daughter until she is married and therefore, she is naturally under his jurisdiction until then. He is capable of rebuking her until she marries and will be under the jurisdiction of her husband. He therefore does not recite the blessing when she becomes bas mitzvah since he is still rebuking her.

He explains according to the Levush as well. The Levush said that the reason for the blessing is because up until then, the son gets punished for the sins of his parents. It is possible to say that a daughter, who is already under the mazal of her husband, as it is said: It is announced in heaven, “The daughter of So-and-So will be married to So-and-So,” his mazal will benefit her that she will not be punished on account of her father’s sins.

Reb Yitzchak Zilberstein questions this explanation from our Gemora (Kesuvos 78a). The Gemora states: In the Beis Medrash of Rabbi Yannai, they replied: In the first case, it was into her possession that the property had come (prior to becoming an arusah, she is the legal possessor of whatever is given to her); in the latter case, the property came into his possession. I, however, do not understand his question. It seems that he understands the words “z’chuso and z’chusa” to mean “whose mazal caused the property to fall to her.” The simple explanation in our Gemora is in whose jurisdiction was the woman when the properties fell to her.