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      brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Yerushalayim
             Rosh Kollel Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld
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Bar and Bat Mitzvos
Tzvi Stern <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> asked:

Not related to the Daf specifically, but:
>From where do we learn that a boy is commanded in mitzvot from 13?  A girl
from 12?

Thank you
Tzvi Stern 
The Kollel replies:

On the Mishnah at the end of the fifth Perek of Avos, which lists the age
of 13 as the age of Mitzvos, the Perush Rashi offers two sources:

1. From Shimon and Levi, who were called "Ish" when they killed the people
of Shechem even though Levi was just 13 years old (if one calculates from
his birth). This is also the source suggested by Bartenurah and Rabeinu
Bachye there. If so, apparently the age of 12 for a girl is learned from
the age of 13 for a boy, since a girl matures quicker (see Sanhedrin 69b,
Bava Basra 16b in Rashi, Nidah 45a).

2. The age of 13 (and the growth of two pubic hairs) is learned from a
Halachah l'Moshe mi'Sinai. This is also the source suggested by the
Teshuvos ha'Rosh 16:1, who cites the Gemara in Sukah 5b that contends
"[all] Shi'urim are Halachah l'Moshe mi'Sinai"; this is also a Shi'ur.

Below you will find our Insights to Nidah 45:2 and 48:2 which relate
somewhat to your question.

M. Kornfeld

Insights to Nidah 45
OPINIONS:The Gemara asks, why it is that a girl reaches Halachic maturity
sooner than a boy. The Gemara explains that "Binah Yeseirah Nitnah l'Nashim."
(a) The TOSFOS ha'ROSH explains this to mean that women are given Binah
(understanding) earlier than men -- i.e., their mental capacity develops at
a younger age.
(b) The RAMBAM (Perush ha'Mishnayos ad loc.) explains that women
physically, and not just mentally, age faster than men (they have a shorter
lifespan), and thus they also reach maturity sooner.
(c) The ROSH (Teshuvos, #16) explains that all of the Halachic indications
of maturity are Halachos l'Moshe mi'Sinai (and thus there is no obvious,
rational reason to explain why women reach maturity earlier than men).


Insights to Nidah 48
Two pubic hairs are considered to be a sign, or "Siman," of maturity for
Halachic purposes. Before the growth of such hairs, a child is considered
to be a minor, since his mental capacity has not yet fully matured.

The growth of hair would not seem to be intrinsically associated with
mental maturity. Are the two hairs just a tell-tale, physical sign
indicating that the child if physically -- and therefore mentally --
developed? Or did the Torah (in the spirit of "Lo Pelug") stipulate that no
matter how well a child can think, he is not considered a "Bar Da'as"
unless he has two pubic hairs as well? (That is, are the hairs a *sign* of
Halachic maturity, or do they *bring about* Halachic maturity?)
(a) The MAHARIT (Teshuvah 1:51) writes that the growth of hairs does not
bring about Halachic maturity. They are merely *signs* that the child has
matured. The Maharit points out that this is consistent with the meaning of
the word "Siman," which Chazal use to describe the hairs.

This view is also evident from the words of RABBEINU CHANANEL (quoted by
the ROSH in Gitin 9:11), who writes that we do not have the insight to be
able to determine Halachic maturity based on the mental sharpness of a
child; therefore, we have to rely on the Simanim to determine when he has
matured. It may be inferred from his words that if we could determine the
sharpness of a child without having to rely on Simanim, the child would be
considered mature even before the Simanim grew in.
(b) However, the SHITAH MEKUBETZES (Bava Basra 56b, DH v'Li Ani) writes
that Simanim actually *bring about* the Halachic maturity of a child, and
they are not merely indicators of maturity.

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