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Shabbat Parashat Noach | 5763
Intra-familial Obligations - Part II
We saw last week that Chazal preferred that, as much as possible, people should provide for their dependants willingly. One example revolves around the dowry.
It was commonplace and expected that a father would provide a significant dowry for his daughter’s marriage. This was one of the ways which enabled the father to help facilitate her marriage (Ketubot 52b). (Many of us have probably heard stories from grandparents about girls in Europe who didn’t have dowries and had difficulty marrying).
Chazal did not feel it was wise and/or practical to require fathers to give a certain amount of money for this purpose. Thus, a father cannot be sued to make him pay a dowry. On the other hand, he was encouraged by an interesting halacha to give a handsome dowry.
According to the basic law of ketuba, a woman receives her ketuba if she is divorced or widowed. If she dies before husband, he inherits the money and/or property which is incorporated in the ketuba, including the dowry. If the dowry was big and the husband had more children from other marriages, then the father’s riches could end up going, after the husband’s death, to someone else’s grandchildren. In order to avoid a father from cutting back on the dowry because of that fear, Chazal instituted ketubat banin dichrin (the ketuba of the male sons), as we will explain next week, with Hashem’s help.
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