TalmuDigest

For the week ending 26 December 2009 / 8 Tevet 5770

Bava Batra 128 - 134

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
  • Who is disqualified to serve as a witness
  • When the borrower contradicts the witnesses who testify that he paid his debt
  • Distribution of belongings to circumvent inheritance
  • Determining who will inherit the gift when the receiver dies
  • Favoring one son as an heir over the others
  • When can one apply a ruling he has learned
  • Special provisions in a marriage contract
  • What power does one give to his wife or others when he wills them his entire estate
  • How evaluation of circumstances can affect a ruling
  • How a woman forfeits her right to collect payment of the ketubah
  • Disinheriting one's sons
  • Credibility in claiming that someone is his heir

Favoring An Heir

  • Bava Batra 130a

"On the day that he causes his sons to inherit whatever will be his." (Devarim 21:16)

This is how the Torah describes the setting for a father passing on his property to his heirs.

Rabbi Yochanan ben Brokah calls attention to the fact that the Torah uses the term "causes his sons to inherit" rather than the simpler "his sons inherit".

From this choice of language he derives that, although inheritance is normally an automatic process, a father has the power to determine (cause to inherit) one of his sons as his sole heir.

The gemara does point out, however, that this power is limited to favoring one son above the others or, when there are no sons, one daughter over the others. He cannot, however, designate a brother or other relative as his heir while disowning his own children.

This limitation is derived from the above-mentioned passage, which speaks only of a case in which sons are involved.

What the Sages Say

"A judge must rule only according to his own understanding."
  • The Sage Rava - Bava Batra 131a

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