Ask the Rabbi

  • Family and Society
  • General Questions

torah inheritance laws pt2


Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Iyyar 12, 5782
Thank you for the explanation and correction on the part of inheritance for daughters. But if a daughter is married, why must her brothers give sustenance for her throughout her life? I have heard that Torah is dynamic and rules are improving led by learned people through trial and error. Many rules are not applicable e.g. regulation of slavery in Torah. Today slavery is forbidden. Could it be that inheritance rules were also to be seen as in need of improvement by men so that men may be partners in creation with G-d? So what will human society loose with the present laws of inheritance being divided equally regardless of gender and first-born?
ב"ה Shalom, Your questions are well thought,and I think you would gain very much if you would find a suitable framework where you could actually study these issues in depth from the sources. Although I will answer the points you've raised, in this platform answers are given only in a concise manner. Your first point is absolutely correct. The ordinance the Rabbis established was that brothers only give the sustenance until their sister is married, when her husband will assume responsibility. In regard to the dynamics of the Torah, I need to elaborate a bit. As I stated in my previous answer, the Torah is eternal. We do not change the Torah to adapt to modern times or temporary trends or ethics. Rather, the oral interpretation of the Torah which was given to Moshe at Mt. Sinai and then found its way into the Talmud and into other Rabbinic writings over the generations, is dynamic in the sense that we can apply the laws of the Torah to any modern day situation. Just for example, based upon the eternal principles of the Torah, we can tell a Jewish astronaut when to don Tefillin although he will experience day and night more than once in a 24 hour period. Or for example, how to apply Torah principles to a situation of liability of payment for a fender-bender, when the Torah spoke oxen and donkeys. In regard to slavery, you are absolutely right, yes today slavery is forbidden. However, when slavery was commonplace in the ancient world, the Torah was the only source which set down the rights of a slave to give a slave dignity and not to treat slaves as chattel. The Talmud (Kiddushin 22b) stipulates that the master and slave must have the same living conditions in regard to food and lodgings. To the extent one commentators says that if there is only one pillow available, the master must forfeit his pillow for the benefit of the slave. The conclusion made by the Talmud from this state of affairs was "He who buys himself a Hebrew salve it is as if he has bought himself a master for himself". !!!. So again, though slavery does not exist, there is still so much to be derived from the Torah regulations of slavery in regard to treating the less fortunate individuals of society or even to our subordinates in our workplace etc. As I said in my previous answer, over the generations ordinances 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. You ask " So what will human society loose with the present laws of inheritance being divided equally regardless of gender and first-born?" As I have written at length, I will try answer this in short. The Jewish society will loose the fulfillment of a mitzva of the Torah and thus possibly causing a lax attitude towards the rest of the Mitzvot. Perhaps even more severe would be that people will think that human made morals take precedence over Divinely made morals. All the best
את המידע הדפסתי באמצעות אתר