Shabbat Parashat Terumah| 5765
Inheritance of a Part of a Hekdesh - Based on B’sha’arei Beit Hadin - vol. II, pp. 383-394
Case: A hekdesh (charitable fund) was established close to a century ago, where the property of the deceased donator was to be rented out on a permanent basis, with the proceeds being split up among 27 institutions and two prominent rabbis. It was stipulated that should any of the institutions cease to exist, its share in the fund should be equally divided among the other institutions. The rabbis have died long ago. The only inheritor (who died since) of one of them earmarked the money for an institution (=XX) that operates in the name of the deceased rabbi. The buildings of the hekdesh have been condemned for destruction, and there is a question what will be done with money to be made from the sale of the land. XX demands that the money be split among the recipients on a one-time basis, thus ending the hekdesh.
Majority Ruling: It is not fully clear if the money earmarked for the individual rabbis was given o them to use for their own purposes or entrusted in them to distribute to charitable causes at their discretion. If the latter is the case, then the rabbis’ inheritors do not have a monetary right to the funds. But even if the intention was for the money to be for the rabbis’ personal use, when one gives an ongoing present to an individual and does not stipulate that it should be transferred after his death to his inheritors or someone else, the present ceases with the death of the recipient. Even if there would be inheritance of the portion of the rabbis, [according to one dayan]XX could not claim rights to it based on the transfer of rights from the rabbi’s inheritor because the rights are only to future revenues, and one cannot transfer rights on future property (davar shelo ba la’olam).
Additionally, the document that defines the hekdesh states what to do when a recipient ceases to exist, namely that its portion is split among the others. It does not stipulate that there is a difference in this regard between institutions and individual rabbis. Thus, XX has no rights to any money in the future and should return any money it received in the past.
The money made from the sale of the land should not be split among the beneficiaries. The hekdesh was explicitly set aside for ongoing use, as the document states that the property should never be sold, but the rent money should be distributed. Although there is no choice but to sell the property after the buildings were condemned, the proceeds should be placed in a safe investment until an alternative property can be bought.
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