Bava Batra 142 - 148
- Designating an unborn child as recipient of gift
- Age versus wisdom
- A gift made simultaneously to a qualified recipient and to an unqualified one
- How to divide a gift made to a wife and children or to children whom he calls sons
- Who benefits from improvements made in the undivided estate by the older heirs
- A father's wedding gifts to his oldest son
- When one of the heirs gains income from a government position
- The reciprocity of wedding gifts
- Relative importance of mishnah and gemara
- Who is considered the poor man whose days are unfortunate
- Wedding gifts from husband to wife's family
- Distribution of estate by a dying man
- The signals of the altar smoke
- Retraction of a dying man's will
Last Will and Testament
- Bava Batra 147a
A strenuous effort is made by the gemara to find some source in Scripture for the rabbinical decree that the oral instructions given by a dying man for the distribution of his resources has the same force as a written will.
One of the attempts focuses on the last will and testament of the royal advisor Achitofel who joined the rebellion of Avshalom against his father King David. His counsel was not followed by Avshalom and the rebellion failed. In his frustration he went to his house, gave instructions to his family and hung himself (Shmuel II 17:23).
Although there is a hint that these instructions had to do with the distribution of his estate, the gemara rejects this as a source for the aforementioned rabbinical decree because those instructions dealt with other matters. In support of this a beraita is cited which relates that two of Achitofel's final instructions to his sons were based on his own bitter experience.
"Don't get involved in disputes," he told them, "and don't rebel against the royal House of David."
What the Sages Say
"Every student of Torah is dependent on the 'master of the wheat' – the Gemara scholar."
- Beraita - Bava Batra 145b