TalmuDigest

For the week ending 5 December 2009 / 17 Kislev 5770

Bava Batra 107 - 113

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
  • When a division of inherited property can be reversed
  • Selling half a field
  • The laws of inheritance
  • The Torah source for the order of inheritance
  • The problematic descendant of Moshe
  • Checking on the brothers of a prospective wife
  • The importance of working for a livelihood
  • The daughter as an heir
  • Sons and daughters inheriting their mother
  • The husband as heir of his wife
  • When inheritance causes ownership of property to move from one tribe to another
  • Limitations on the right of the firstborn to a double portion of the inheritance

A Curious Beginning

  • Bava Batra 108

In listing the laws of inheritance the Mishnah first mentions that a father inherits his son's possessions if the son left no children to inherit him. Mentioning this form of inheritance before the case of a son inheriting his father seems to be a strange way to begin because it refers to a tragic case of a father losing a childless son in his own lifetime. It would have been more appropriate to begin with the case of a son inheriting his father. As Rashbam points out in his commentary, it is considered a blessing for a man to have his son bury him, for we find that G-d blessed Yaakov that his son Yosef would bury him.

The reason given for beginning with a tragedy rather than a blessing is that since the law that a father takes precedence as an heir over the deceased's brothers is derived from the Sages' interpretation of a passage rather than from an explicit source, it is more beloved by the codifier of the Mishnah.

What the Sages Say

"One who plans to marry a woman should check on her brothers for we have learned that most children take after their mother's brothers."

  • The Sage Rava - Bava Batra 110a

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