For the week ending 31 December 2011 / 4 Tevet 5772

Bechorot 51 - 56

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Become a Supporter Library Library
  • How to redeem a firstborn son
  • The double portion of inheritance for firstborn
  • Ma'aser behaima– tithing of animals
  • Why the mitzvah of tithing is not practiced
  • The rules for combining animals in different areas for the purpose of tithing
  • The River Jordan– its name and its role as a border
  • Which owners are not required to do tithing
  • Tithing before animal is old enough to serve as a sacrifice
  • Heirs and partners who are obligated in tithing

A Grave Problem

If someone sells his burial plot and the road leading to it, his family has the right to bury him there even if the purchaser does not grant permission. The reason for this is that it is an embarrassment for the deceased's family for him to be buried elsewhere.

In Mesechta Sanhedrin(46b) the question is raised whether the purpose of burial is to save the deceased's family the embarrassment of a visible dead relative, or whether it is to serve as an atonement for the deceased. The practical difference is what to do when the deceased has made a request before his death to not be buried. If the reason for burial is concern for the family's honor, his request must be ignored, but if it is for his own atonement, he has the right to waive such atonement. (The halacha is that his request is ignored.)

Tosefot asks why the gemara there did not suggest a proof that his request is ignored from our gema ra which rules that he is buried in the plot that he sold despite the fact that his sale of the plot indicates that he did not wish to be buried.

The resolution offered by Tosefot is that the sale of the burial plot is not considered a statement on the deceased's part that he wishes to not be buried, but is the result of his need to earn money from such a sale. A similar situation is found in Mesechta Ketubot (48a), in which someone declares that he does not wish his burial expenses to be paid from his resources. There too we interpret his request as simply attempting to have others pay for his burial and not an indication that he wishes not to be buried at all.

  • Bechorot 52b

What the Sages Say

"The tithing of animals is not practiced when there is no Beit Hamikdash — where the tenth one can be offered as a sacrifice — because of the danger that this sacred animal will be misused while waiting for it to develop a physical flaw that enables the owner to use as he wishes."

  • The Sage Rava - Bechorot 53a

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