י׳ בסיון ה׳תשע״ז (June 4, 2017)

Bava Batra 133a-b: Disinheriting the Kids

We have learned that a person cannot determine who will get his possessions after he dies, but he can divide up his property any way he wants to while he is still alive. According to the Mishna on today’s daf a person can give all of his possessions away during his lifetime, even if he has children, although such behavior is discouraged by . Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel teaches that if the children do not behave appropriately, then his actions are “remembered for good.”

The Gemara asks whether or not the first opinion in the Mishna agrees with Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel’s ruling, and attempts to bring stories that prove their position one way or another. The Gemara concludes that the Tanna Kamma objects to any outside attempt to influence the inheritance, even if it was to give money to a good son rather than a bad son or to make sure that the daughter gets a share.

The Rashbam explains that the Sages’ objection to giving away the estate to a child who does not deserve it were we to follow Torah law, stems from their desire to see the laws of the Torah applied properly. The Maharal offers a different approach. The normal way of the world is for elderly parents to die and to leave their estate to their children. Any attempt to transfer monies to other people before death so that the inheritance will not go to the children in a normal manner runs counter to the ordinary flow of events in the world – something that the Sages considered to be inappropriate.

It should be noted that although our Mishna has Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel teaching his ruling in a case where the children do not behave appropriately, a variant reading of the Mishna – which is the reading that appeared before the Rif, the Rambam and the Shulḥan Arukh – suggests that if the children do not behave appropriately towards him, he can arrange for the inheritance to skip them, even if their behavior towards the rest of the world was appropriate.

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