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Shabbat Parashat Bo | 5770

Hemdat HaDaf HaYomi: Delaying Burial (154)

Rav Ofer Livnat

  Shevat 2-8, Bava Batra 149-155

This week in the Daf Yomi the Gemara (154) discusses a case where a boy sold some of the family's assets and passed away. His relatives claimed that the sale was not valid, as he was not yet of age for his sale to be effective.  The case was brought before Rabbi Akiva, and he was asked regarding the possibility of checking the body to see if the deceased was old enough for the sale to be valid. Rabbi Akiva rejected this request for two reasons. The first is that checking the body would be a disgrace to the person who passed away. The second reason is that one cannot rely upon the examination of the body because of the changes that can occur to the body after death.

The Gemara explains that both reasons are necessary. The first reason, of disgrace to the person who passed away, is sufficient to reject a request from family members, as they are uniquely obligated to respect their relative. However, if the request were to come from the buyers who are not related to the deceased, the issue of disgrace to the dead is not a sufficient claim to cause a potential monetary loss to the buyers, and an examination would be permitted. Thus, the reason that the examination will not provide conclusive results is necessary.

The Or Zarua (volume 3 Baba Batra 199) tells an interesting case that came before Rabbeinu Tam. Reuven owed Shimon a certain sum, and Reuven passed away. Shimon demanded to delay the burial until the inheritors paid off the debt from the assets they inherited from Reuven. Rabbeinu Tam ruled that Shimon may delay the burial. The Or Zarua restricts this to a case where Shimon is not a relative of Reuven, for if he was, he would not be allowed to delay his burial.


Summary and Ruling:

The Remma in the Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 107, 2) rules that a debtor, who is not a relative of the deceased, may delay the burial of the one who owed him until the inheritors pay off the debt from the assets they inherited. The Shach (6) explains that the case is that the inheritance is not large and the debtor is concerned that the inheritors will spend it all on the burial expenses. Similarly, adds the Remma, even if after paying off the debt there will not remain enough money for the burial expenses, the debtor may still collect his debt, and he is not obligated to contribute to the burial expenses. That is the responsibility of the family and the community.   

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

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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