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Torah Inheritance Laws

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Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Iyyar 2, 5782
Question
Why were the inheritance laws made such as to lead to a world of inequality. The oldest son would receive half of his father estate and the remaining sons would receive equal portions of the remaining estate. Daughters would not receive anything unless there were no sons. Today we strive for a greater equaltiy. Why did not Gd in the first place made better rules
Answer
ב"ה Shalom The Torah is eternal and its laws are eternal. The laws of the Torah which G-d established in his infinite wisdom are not subject to passing trends in society. As King David said in Tehillim 19 " The Torah of Hashem is complete it restores the soul….the mandates of Hashem are just, (and) cause rejoicing to the heart, the commandments of Hashem are without flaws enlightening the eyes, the ordinances of Hashem are truth and are in complete harmony…" The inheritance of the first-born son is not half the inheritance, but double the inheritance of the brothers, because the Torah sees being the first born as a special virtue. The laws of inheritance among children are part of an entire system where the welfare of one's children whether sons or daughters married or not married are looked after, so to say there is inequality doesn't represent the whole picture. True, on the one hand the daughters do not inherit if there are sons. However, the daughters are not left abandoned, G-d forbid, but they receive sustenance from the portion of the sons. Up the extent, that if there is not much of an inheritance, and barely enough to sustain the daughters, then the sons receive no inheritance at all and whatever was bequeathed is set aside for the sustenance of the daughters. The Talmud relates that the scholar Admon questions in the Mishna (Ketubot 13:3) "Just because I am a male, should I lose out? " In the Talmud and over the generations ordinances (called Ketubat banin dichrin, Issur Nechasim, Shtar Chatzi Zachar and others ) were made for the benefit of the daughters. And in our time too, Rabbinical courts do not the discriminate daughters in case of inheritance and apply ordinances to ensure the daughter's fair portion while not transgressing Torah law. All the best
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