י״ז בסיון ה׳תשע״ז (June 11, 2017)

Bava Batra 140a-b: A Daughter’s Guarantee of Support

The ninth perek of Massekhet Bava Batra, Perek Mi she-Met, began on yesterday’s daf. This perek, like its predecessor, deals with questions of inheritance. While the last perek focused on biblical inheritance laws, this perek deals with situations that arise out of rabbinic enactments and community minhagim (traditions).

One important rabbinic enactment, the ketuba, includes a clause called ketubat bnan nukvan – “the daughter’s ketuba” – that guarantees that the daughters will be supported by the father’s estate until they marry or reach the age of maturity and become independent. The first Mishna deals with the question of what to do when there is not enough money in the estate to support both the sons, who are entitled to inherit according to biblical law, and the daughters who are entitled to be supported according to rabbinic enactment.

According to the Tanna Kamma, in such a situation, the daughters should be supported even if the sons are forced to beg for their sustenance. The Tanna Admon objects to this ruling, saying “why should I lose out simply because I am male?”

Rabban Gamliel agrees with Admon’s comment.

The Gemara on our daf asks what Admon meant with his comment, and Abaye explains that he meant to say that he did not understand why being commanded to study Torah should make him lose his rights to his inheritance. Rava objects to this interpretation of Admon, pointing out that Torah study has no bearing on the right to inherit. Rav’s explanation is that Admon was simply commenting that if there was a large estate, his rights as a male would give him priority in inheriting, and he did not understand why he should lose those rights if there was a smaller estate.

Although the Gemara in Ketubot (109a) states that whenever Rabban Gamliel supports Admon’s ruling that becomes the accepted halakha, in this case our Gemara seems to accept the position of the Tanna Kamma. Rabbeinu Tam suggests that perhaps in our Mishna Admon is not arguing with the Tanna Kamma, but simply reacted in strong language to a ruling that surprised him – surprise that is echoed by Rabban Gamliel.

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