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Shabbat Parashat Vayechi | 5770

Hemdat HaDaf HaYomi: Transferring Inheritance (133b)

Rav Ofer Livnat

This week in the Daf Yomi the Mishna (133b) states that although one can give all of his assets to others and thus leave nothing for his sons, the Sages are not pleased with such conduct. According to Rashbag, if the sons do not behave properly, it is proper not to leave them anything. However, the Gemara states that the Chachamim disagree with Rashbag and claim that even among one's sons it is not proper to give the portion of an evil son to a righteous one. The Gemara (Ketuvot 53a) explains that the reason is that one does not know how the descendants of one's children will turn out. Therefore, even if one son is not behaving properly, it is possible that his descendants will be righteous and one should therefore not take from him his portion in the inheritance.

The Chatam Sofer (Choshen Mishpat 151) was asked about a wealthy individual who had no children and wanted to establish a charity fund from most of his wealth, leaving only a small portion to his inheritors. The Chatam Sofer states that there are three points which need to be clarified:

1.       Does the instruction of the Sages not to transfer inheritance regard only one's children, or even more distant inheritors?

2.       Is it also relevant when one wants to donate the money to charity?

3.       Does it pertain even when one only transfers part of his assets, or only when one leaves nothing to his inheritors?

The Chatam Sofer proves that this instruction of the Sages is valid in all of these circumstances. From the wording of the Rambam (Nachalot 6, 11) he proves that the instruction regards not only one's children but all other inheritors, as well. Our Gemara deals with cases of people who donated and sanctified their wealth to the Beit Hamikdash so that it would not be left for their inheritors; from this we see that the instruction is relevant even when one wishes to use the money for the purpose of a Mitzvah. And from the Gemara in Ketuvot (ibid) he proves that it is not proper even to give over only a portion of one's wealth.

Nevertheless, the Chatam Sofer concludes that a person who does not have children and wants to establish a charity foundation so that he will have more good deeds to his credit when he appears before the heavenly court, may do so since his intention is proper and he is not doing so for the sake of excluding inheritors from his wealth.

The Pitchei Teshuvah (Choshen Mishpat 182, 1) disagrees with the Chatam Sofer. The Chatam Sofer proved from the Gemara that the instruction applies even when one gives money to charity, and even when one is giving only a portion of his assets.

The Pitchei Teshuvah says- each of these conditions is relevant only on its own. However, if one fulfills both conditions, giving only a portion of his wealth, and giving that portion to charity, it is permitted. Therefore, according to his opinion, even if one has children, he may still give a portion of his wealth to charity.


Summary and Halachic Ruling:

The Shulchan Aruch (182, 1) rules that the Sages are not pleased with one who gives his assets to others and does not leave them for his inheritors. According to the Chatam Sofer, this applies even in regards to distant inheritors, even when one is giving only part of his wealth, and even if it is being given to charity. Only if one does not have children and he wants to give to charity to increase his good deeds, is it permitted. According to the Pitchei Teshuvah, even if one has children he may give a portion of his wealth to charity.

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This week’s Hemdat Yamim is dedicated in loving memory of
R' Meir ben
Yechezkel Shraga 


Hemdat Yamim is endowed by
Les & Ethel Sutker of Chicago, Illinois in loving memory of
Max and Mary Sutker and
Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l.


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