What is the purpose of a yetzer hora in children if anyhow they will not receive reward or punishment for their deeds?
The answer is that a child benefits greatly by the battle for virtue. It’s only because of trial and error, the experience that a child gains by means of trial and error, that’s what makes him prepared when he is bar mitzvah to immediately step into the shoes of an adult.
When a child has to fight against jealousy – for example when he sees his mother handling a new baby and this little boy who was there first, he was the only one, the darling of the house, and now feels left out and he feels jealous, so he knows he has to contend with it. Even without being intelligent but because he has to live in that house, he knows he can’t run away. And so to some extent he battles against his yetzer hora and he adjusts. He has an innate intelligence to battle against any wicked feelings. And by means of that he is flexing his muscles.
That, by the way, is why little children frolic so much; it’s why little kittens jump around, and little dogs jump around, and little birds jump around; because when they do that they are flexing their muscles and they develop their bodies and so they are prepared for the career of adulthood.
And the same is spiritually. A child is tested by the yetzer hora; he battles against it. Little children have conscience too; they have chochmah within them and they battle against the yetzer hora. Until finally at bar mitzvah, they are prepared somewhat. They don’t suddenly make an abrupt change; they are prepared for the test because they are already experienced in the milchemes hayetzer.
TAPE # 440