Shabbat Parashat Vayeshev| 5764
Intra familial Obligations - Part VIII- Support for a Widow (III)
We have seen that halacha entitles a widow to receive mezonot (support) and payment of her ketuba. An interesting set of related, modern questions (with, apparently, little literature) is whether these obligations have full force when the widow has been provided with other forms of support, such as life insurance or inheritance of part or all of her husband’s estate.
If the widow inherits all of the estate, she does not receive mezonot or even her ketuba, because there are no other inheritors from whom to request payment. If her inheritance is partial, then it depends. If the inheritance isn’t halachically valid (details are beyond our present scope), then beit din will not force the rightful inheritors to pay until the amount she deserves exceeds what she already received (heard orally from Rav Z.N. Goldberg).
If she receives inheritance in a halachically valid manner or if the husband left her a life insurance policy, these payments appear to be presents from her husband and do not preclude her exercising her halachic rights (ibid.). There is some logic to claim that the presents were made with the intention that they would answer all the widow’s legitimate monetary demands. However , this claim is not necessarily correct on a broad basis (see dispute on this matter in regard to her ketuba in an article by Rav J. David Bleich, Tradition, Fall ’97).
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