THE OBLIGATION TO FEED ONE'S CHILDREN [children:feeding]
(Mishnah - R. Elazar ben Azaryah): A man is not obligated to feed his daughter. A provision of the Kesuvah is that 'the sons inherit and the daughters are fed'. Just like the sons inherit only after the father dies, the daughters are fed only after his death.
(Gemara) Inference: He is not obligated to feed his daughter, but must feed his son. Also, there is no obligation to feed her, but there is a Mitzvah to feed her!
(Beraisa - R. Meir): It is a Mitzvah to feed one's daughters, and all the more so one's sons, since they engage in Torah;
R. Yehudah says, it is a Mitzvah to feed one's sons and all the more so one's daughters, to prevent their disgrace;
R. Yochanan ben Brokah says, it is an obligation to feed the daughters after the father dies. In his lifetime, neither sons nor daughters are fed.
Question: The Mishnah is not like R. Meir or R. Yehudah, who say that it is a Mitzvah (not an obligation) to feed sons. It is unlike R. Yochanan ben Brokah, who says there is no Mitzvah to feed either!
Answer #1: The Mishnah is R. Meir. A man is not obligated to feed his daughter. The same applies to his son. There is a Mitzvah to feed his daughter, and all the more so his son. The Mishnah discussed the daughter to teach that even regarding a daughter, (there is no obligation, but) there is a Mitzvah.
Answer #2: The Mishnah is R. Yehudah. A man is not obligated to feed his daughter, and all the more so his son. There is a Mitzvah to feed his son, all the more so his daughter. The Mishnah discussed the daughter, to teach that even regarding a daughter, there is no obligation.
Answer #3: The Mishnah is R. Yochanan ben Brokah. A man is not obligated to feed his daughter; it is not even a Mitzvah. The same applies to his son. Since the Seifa discusses obligation after the father dies, the Reisha discusses obligation during his lifetime.
(R. Ila'a): In Usha it was enacted that a man feed his minor children.
Question: Does the Halachah follows this?
Answer: When such cases came in front of Rav Yehudah, he would say that 'a serpent had a child, and is throwing (responsibility for feeding) it on the city'. Rav Chisda, he would command to publicly declare 'A raven wants children, but this man does not. Rava would ask 'Do you want them to be fed from Tzedakah?'
This is if the father is not rich. If he is, we force him to feed them (just like we force him to give Tzedakah);
Rava forced Rav Noson bar Ami to give 400 Zuz to Tzedakah.
50a (our teachers in Yavneh): "Happy is the one who guards justice and constantly does Tzedakah" refers to one who feeds his minor children.
65b (R. Ula Rabah): Even though Chachamim said that a man need not feed his children when they are minors, he must feed very small children.
This is until six years.
(Rav Asi): A six year-old may rely on the Eruv of his mother.
R. Ula learned this from our Mishnah. It says that a nursing woman is given more food, i.e. because he must also feed the baby!
Rejection: No. Nursing women are assumed to be sick (and require more food).
(R. Yehoshua ben Levi): We allot wine to a nursing mother, for this is good for the milk.
Rif and Rosh (4:14): R. Ila'a taught that in Usha it was enacted that a man feed his minor children. Rav Yehudah and Rav Chisda would publicly censure a father who did not. Rava would ask him 'Do you want them to be fed from Tzedakah?' If the father is rich, we force him, just like we force him to give Tzedakah to strangers. Rava forced Rav Noson bar Ami to give 400 Zuz to Tzedakah. This refers to minors. We force him to feed children until six even if he is not rich enough to force him to give Tzedakah. A nursing woman is given more food. This shows that a father must feed very young children.
Ran (DH Masnisin): It seems that the Halachah follows R. Yehudah and R. Meir, who say that there is a Mitzvah to feed children.
Ran (DH Gemara): The question is whether or not one must feed children until they bring two hairs of adulthood. The Amora'im only said words, but did not force the father to feed them. This shows that the Halachah does not follow R. Ila'a.
Rosh: Rabbeinu Meir ruled that one must feed very small children even if they inherited property from their mother's father. It is an enactment mid'Rabanan; they merit it in any case, just like a wife who is fed. We learn about feeding children from a nursing woman, to teach that they are similar.
Ran (28b DH Gemara): The son's law depends on his mother. The father adds to her food for the son. If she is not alive, the father is exempt. However, I did not see Rishonim say so.
Ran (18a DH Gemara) R. Tam says that Beis Din does not coerce about Tzedakah, for the reward is explicit in the Torah. Rava forced Rav Noson verbally. This is wrong. Even if one is not rich, we verbally coerce him to feed his children. This implies that we physically force one who is rich!
Ran (citing the Rashba): When we force a rich person to feed his children, it is due to the Mitzvah of Tzedakah. However, we do not take his property. If the father is not here, we do not feed his children from his property, just like we do not give Tzedakah from his property. If a man went crazy we feed his children. Since most people do so, presumably he wants this. However, the Rambam says that we feed only his children below six.
Rambam (Hilchos Ishus 12:14): Just like a man must feed his wife, he must feed his sons and daughters until six years. After this, he feeds them according to Chachamim's enactment. If he does not want, we rebuke, embarrass and insist upon him. We publicize that he is worse than a Tamei bird that feeds its chicks. We do not force him to feed them after six.
Magid Mishneh: He must feed them until six full years.
Shulchan Aruch (EH 71:1): A man must feed his sons and daughters until they are six, even if they inherited property from their mother's father. After this, he feeds them according to Chachamim's enactment until they mature.
Bach (DH Chayav): If a child above six has money to support himself, we do not insist that his father feed him. This is unlike a raven's children, which cannot feed themselves. We cannot say that we force a rich father due to Tzedakah if the children can support themselves.
Shulchan Aruch (ibid.): If he does not want, we rebuke, embarrass and insist upon him. We publicize that he is worse than a Tamei bird that feeds its chicks. We do not force him to feed them.
Chelkas Mechokek (1): It was not explained whether it suffices to give them minimal rations, or if he must feed them like he feeds his wife. The Ran says that the Chiyuv to feed them stems from the Chiyuv to feed his wife. This suggests that he must feed them like his wife. The Rosh says that if a man fathered a child from a single woman, even though he need not feed her he must feed the child. The child does not depend on his mother.
Mishneh l'Melech (Ishus 12:14): The Rivash followed the Rosh and was not concerned for the Ran, because the Ran himself was unsure.
Beis Shmuel (1): One must feed them even after their mother died, unlike the Ran. If the father died, his sons divide equally. We do not give the young ones (above an equal share) what they whould have received until six, for the Chiyuv was on the father only in his lifetime.
Shulchan Aruch (ibid.): If the father is rich enough to give Tzedakah that suffices to feed them, we force him due to Tzedakah, until they mature.
Question: If one's child is poor, even after he matures, one must feed him (YD 251:4)! The first preference for Tzedakah is one's closest relatives!
Answer (Drishah 1): We assume that minors cannot support themselves. Normally, adults can support themselves or beg. Yoreh De'ah 251 discusses when he knows that his child has no way to survive.
Bach (Kuntres Acharon, DH Aval): When a father went away or went insane, we feed his children until they mature.
Beis Shmuel (4): R. Yerucham says that minor children have priority. After maturity, one must feed them like other poor relatives.