Blog Yomi – Yevamos #37

We’re on דף ל״ז עמוּד ב, having introduced what will be a series of eight cases of property dispute based on establishing the validity of familial claims to the inheritance.

5 FAQs About How to Divide Inherited Real Estate

Case 1: סָפֵק וְיָבָם שֶׁבָּאוּ לַחֲלוֹק בְּנִכְסֵי מִיתָנָא

סָפֵק אָמַר: אֲנָא בַּר מִיתָנָא הוּא, וְנִכְסֵי דִּידִי (הוּא) [נִינְהוּ]. וְיָבָם אָמַר: אַתְּ בְּרַאי דִּידִי אַתְּ, וְלֵית לָךְ וְלָא מִידֵּי בְּנִכְסֵי. הָוֵי מָמוֹן הַמּוּטָּל בְּסָפֵק, וּמָמוֹן הַמּוּטָּל בְּסָפֵק — חוֹלְקִין

The case concerns one whose identity as the son of the deceased is uncertain (סָפֵק), and a יָבָם who performed יִבּוּם with the יְבָמָה, who both came to divide up the possessions of the deceased brother and each one claims to be the sole heir. The סָפֵק said: I am the son of the deceased, and therefore, as the only heir, his possessions are mine. The יָבָם countered: You are my son, and you have absolutely no rights to the possessions of my brother (your uncle). Having done יִבּוּם with your mother, I am the sole heir of your uncle’s property. The Gemara rules in this case, where there is no way to determine who is the rightful heir, that property of uncertain ownership is divided equally among the claimants.

Case 2: סָפֵק וּבְנֵי יָבָם שֶׁבָּאוּ לַחֲלוֹק בְּנִכְסֵי מִיתָנָא

In this case after the property dispute is between the סָפֵק from Case 1, and the children of the יָבָם. For reference, this is the case on page 204 of our picture book. Rashi explains it as another classic case of “מִמָה נָפְשָׁך”

ספק ובני יבם – הספק מוחזק בהן ביותר דממה נפשך אית ליה זכיה בגווייהו אבל בני יבם שמא אין להם חלק בהם שזה בן ראשון הוא וכולה שלו ומשום הכי סבור רבנן למימר היינו מתניתין בפ’ נושאין על האנוסה דקתני ספק בן תשעה לראשון ספק בן שבעה לאחרון הוא לא יורש אותן לא זה ולא זה דבני ראשון מדחו ליה אצל בני אחרון ובני אחרון אצל בני ראשון והם יורשים אותו בין שניהם

The Gemara states: סָפֵק וּבְנֵי יָבָם שֶׁבָּאוּ לַחֲלוֹק בְּנִכְסֵי מִיתָנָא, סָפֵק אָמַר: הָהוּא גַּבְרָא בַּר מִיתָנָא הוּא, וְנִכְסֵי דִּידִי (הוּא) [נִינְהוּ]. בְּנֵי יָבָם אָמְרִי: אַתְּ (אַחֵינוּ) [אֲחוּנָא] אַתְּ, וּמְנָתָא הוּא דְּאִית לָךְ בַּהֲדַן

The sons of the יָבָם say to the סָפֵק: You are our brother, and our uncle, the deceased, was therefore not survived by any offspring. By virtue of our father’s יִבּוּם he inherited our uncle’s possessions, and as our brother you have a right to inherit only a portion of the inheritance together with us. They concede this because otherwise the סָפֵק would say that he is the sole son of their uncle, and therefore he should get back the portion that their father inherited which would have solely gone to the סָפֵק .

רַבִּי אַבָּא says the original verdict stands, and we don’t listen to any new claim by the סָפֵק that he should be given back the portion originally given to the יָבָם. In opposition, רַבִּי יִרְמְיָה says הָדַר דִּינָא, that the סָפֵק can appeal the original decision now that the property has to be divided again anew. The Gemara wants to suggest that the dispute as to whether you can appeal the original ruling or not is indicative of a מַחְלוֹקֶת between אַדְמוֹן and the רַבָּנָן that we had yesterday regarding a field that was surrounded on four sides to which an owner was unable to return.

[If you follow along in the ArtScroll Case 3 and Case 4 are variants of Case 2. We’ll now be referencing Rabbi Stern’s video starting at the 1:49 mark, delving into the מַחְלוֹקֶת between אַדְמוֹן and the רַבָּנָן.]

לֵימָא בִּפְלוּגְתָּא דְּאַדְמוֹן וְרַבָּנַן קָמִיפַּלְגִי, דִּתְנַן: מִי שֶׁהָלַךְ לִמְדִינַת הַיָּם וְאָבְדָה לוֹ דֶּרֶךְ שָׂדֵהוּ — אַדְמוֹן אָמַר: יֵלֵךְ בִּקְצָרָה. וַחֲכָמִים אוֹמְרִים: יִקַּח לוֹ דֶּרֶךְ בְּמֵאָה מָנֶה, אוֹ יִפְרַח בָּאֲוִיר

Let’s cut to the chase. This is in an instance where the owner of a field went overseas, and when he returns all four of the paths to his field are blocked through ownership by four other parties. As we transition to דף ל״ח עמוּד א, the Gemara discusses how the certainty of ownership in that case results in the owner of the field being passed around between the four access owners, as they all have equal ownership claims. This is in contrast to the challenge by the סָפֵק in our case.

Case 5: סָפֵק וְיָבָם שֶׁבָּאוּ לַחֲלוֹק בְּנִכְסֵי סָבָא

סָפֵק אָמַר: הַאי גַּבְרָא בַּר מִיתָנָא הוּא, וּפַלְגָא דִּידִי הוּא. יָבָם אָמַר: אַתְּ, בְּרַאי דִּידִי אַתְּ, וְלֵית לָךְ וְלָא מִידֵּי

The grandfather dies and his estate is claimed by the סָפֵק, who is a grandson, and by the יָבָם, who is a son. If the deceased brother was childless, then the יָבָם inherits the entire estate. If the סָפֵק was indeed his child, even though born after his death, he is entitled to the inheritance. In this case, because the יָבָם is definitely an heir of the grandfather, the Gemara says: הָוֵי יָבָם וַדַּאי, וְסָפֵק סָפֵק, וְאֵין סָפֵק מוֹצִיא מִידֵי וַדַּאי – a וַדַּאי trumps a סָפֵק and we don’t remove anything that is in the possession of the יָבָם.

Case 6: סָפֵק וּבְנֵי יָבָם שֶׁבָּאוּ לַחֲלוֹק בְּנִכְסֵי סָבָא

סָפֵק אָמַר: הָהוּא גַּבְרָא בַּר מִיתָנָא הוּא, וּפַלְגָא דִּידִי הוּא. וּבְנֵי יָבָם אָמְרִי: אֲחוּנָא אַתְּ וּמְנָתָא אִית לָךְ בַּהֲדַן.

פַּלְגָא דְּקָמוֹדֵי לְהוּ — שָׁקְלִי. תִּילְתָּא דְּקָא מוֹדוּ לֵיהּ — שָׁקֵל. פָּשׁ לְהוּ דַּנְקָא — הָוֵי מָמוֹן הַמּוּטָּל בְּסָפֵק וְחוֹלְקִין

The יָבָם dies before the grandfather; when the grandfather dies, the sons of the יָבָם are in dispute with the סָפֵק, both parties claiming a stake to the grandfather’s estate. In this case, both parties are definitely heirs to the grandfather. However the סָפֵק claims he is the son of the deceased brother. His father therefore inherits half of the grandfather’s estate, with the other half going to the sons of the יָבָם. The sons claim that the סָפֵק is their brother, and each should take one-third (1/3) of the grandfather’s estate, ultimately leaving one-sixth (1/6) left over. The outcome, as ArtScroll notes citing Rashi, is that the סָפֵק takes half of the disputed sixth, and the two sons of the יָבָם take the other half of the disputed sixth. Therefore the סָפֵק ends up with 5/12 of the estate while the two sons of the יָבָם split the other 7/12 (1/2 + 1/12), each brother receiving 7/24 of the estate.

Cases 7 & 8: סָבָא וְיָבָם בְּנִכְסֵי סָפֵק. אוֹ סָבָא וְסָפֵק בְּנִכְסֵי יָבָם

הָוֵי מָמוֹן הַמּוּטָּל בְּסָפֵק וְחוֹלְקִין

The סָפֵק dies without children. The grandfather claims that the סָפֵק was the son of the deceased brother, in which case the grandfather is the sole heir. The יָבָם claims that the סָפֵק is his own son, in which case he is the sole heir. In either case it is money that is equally disputed, as it belongs either entirely to one party or the other. The outcome therefore is that it is divided equally. As Rashi notes:

חולקין – דדלמא כולהו דהאי ודלמא כולהו דהאי. ואין לומר האב ודאי מוחזק דאם זה בנו אין כאן לאב כלום

The next Mishnah in our Daf arrives in the middle of דף ל״ח עמוּד א, and is taken verbatim from Gemara Kesuvos, דף פּ עמוּד ב. It is included because it discusses the case of a woman awaiting יִבּוּם, whose status has an element of uncertainty mirroring the סְפֵיקוּת in the cases above. It is encased in a classic dispute between בֵּית שַׁמַּאי and בֵית הִלֵּל.

Image result for Gemara Kesubos 80b. Size: 179 x 170. Source:

At the 17:15 mark of the video, Rabbi Stern provides the background for this Mishnah, which I’ll relate with some added comments. When a woman enters her marriage she receives a written document, the כְּתוּבָה. Everyone knows this because it is read aloud under the חוּפָּה while the crowd is waiting for the חָתָן to step on the glass so that the party can begin. But well before the party became the central focus, it was the כְּתוּבָה that took center stage. The conventional part of the כְּתוּבָה is the monetary amount that is pledged to her (200 or 100 zuz) in the event of widowhood or divorce.

In addition to the basic, commonplace monetary specification, there are supplemental specifications that can be included in the כְּתוּבָה. As Rabbi Stern describes it, this is a “Jewish style pre-nup”. Regarding property, there are two types:

A. נִכְסֵי צֹאן בַּרְזֶל – which literally means “iron sheep properties”. They are so called because 1) the woman’s investment in the properties is preserved with the sturdiness of iron and 2) because it was customary for people to enter into such agreements with shepherds to allow unlimited use of their fields for grazing. The ironclad aspect is that the amount for which the property is appraised is recorded and added to the כְּתוּבָה. In the event of her divorce or widowhood, she receives that appraised value regardless of the actual value of the property at the time of divorce or her husband’s death. The property becomes the husband’s property, and because he owes his wife the fixed appraised amount he may profit from any accrued value but also bears the loss if the property value drops. This is also referred to as נְדוּנְיָא, sometimes translated as dowry, but this is a bit of misnomer. (חַתַן דְנַן אַחַרַיוֹת שְׁטַר כְּתוּבָתָא דָא נְדוּנְיָא דָן וְתּוֹסֶפְתָּא דָא) If the wife pre-deceases the husband, this property goes to the husband or his heirs, and not hers.

B. נִכְסֵי מְלוֹג – which literally means “plucking properties”. They are so termed because the husband resembles one who plucks the feathers of a bird without taking the bird itself. In this instance the woman brings property into the marriage that remains hers, to be returned to her intact in the event of divorce or widowhood. Any increase or decrease in the value of the property accrues to her. The husband has the right to use the property and keep whatever crops or income it produces as long as the marriage is intact. Additionally, any property that the woman acquires after the marriage whether by inheritance or as a gift, or ownerless property that she finds, is also classified as נִכְסֵי מְלוֹג. If the wife pre-deceases the husband, this property goes to her heirs. This is the type of property with which our Mishnah is concerned.

The descriptions above are a combination of the notes in the ArtScroll Bavli that we have been using, and the annotated Oz Vehadar text of ArtScroll’s Talmud Yerushalmi on Yevamos.

Schottenstein Talmud Yerushalmi - English Edition [#30] - Tractate Yevamos vol 2

With that background, the Mishnah begins: שׁוֹמֶרֶת יָבָם שֶׁנָּפְלוּ לָהּ נְכָסִים — מוֹדִים בֵּית שַׁמַּאי וּבֵית הִלֵּל שֶׁמּוֹכֶרֶת וְנוֹתֶנֶת, וְקַיָּים

A man dies, and while she (as a יְבָמָה) is waiting for the יָבָם to perform יִבּוּם, she gets a windfall, such as her father dying and leaving her substantial property. All agree that the יָבָם has no claim to it, and that she has the unilateral right to sell the property or give it away as a gift. What becomes of the windfall property if she dies before divesting herself of it? Here is where בֵּית שַׁמַּאי and בֵית הִלֵּל disagree.

מֵתָה, מָה יַעֲשֶׂה בִּכְתוּבָּתָהּ, וּבִנְכָסִים הַנִּכְנָסִים וְיוֹצְאִין עִמָּהּ? בֵּית שַׁמַּאי אוֹמְרִים: יַחְלוֹקוּ יוֹרְשֵׁי הַבַּעַל עִם יוֹרְשֵׁי הָאָב. וּבֵית הִלֵּל אוֹמְרִים: נְכָסִים בְּחֶזְקָתָן. כְּתוּבָּה — בְּחֶזְקַת יוֹרְשֵׁי הַבַּעַל, נְכָסִים הַנִּכְנָסִים וְיוֹצְאִין עִמָּהּ — בְּחֶזְקַת יוֹרְשֵׁי הָאָב. Bais Shamai says everything gets evenly divided between the two families. Bais Hillel says everything stays with whoever possesses it at the time of her death: The כֶּסֶף כְּתוּבָה and the נִכְסֵי צֹאן בַּרְזֶל remains in the possession of her husband’s heirs. The נִכְסֵי מְלוֹג remains in the possession of her father’s heirs.

כְּנָסָהּ — הֲרֵי הִיא כְּאִשְׁתּוֹ לְכל דָּבָר. וּבִלְבַד שֶׁתְּהֵא כְּתוּבָּ[תָ]הּ עַל נִכְסֵי בַּעְלָהּ הָרִאשׁוֹן

The Gemara now asks a fundamental question regarding the view accorded to בֵּית שַׁמַּאי in the Mishnah: מַאי שְׁנָא רֵישָׁא דְּלָא פְּלִיגִי, וּמַאי שְׁנָא סֵיפָא דִּפְלִיגִי. Why would they say that the יָבָם or his heirs don’t have any claim to her property while she is alive, but do after she dies?

אָמַר עוּלָּא: רֵישָׁא דְּנָפְלָה כְּשֶׁהִיא אֲרוּסָה, וְסֵיפָא דְּנָפְלָה כְּשֶׁהִיא נְשׂוּאָה

The distinction in the two scenarios is that in the first instance, the רֵישָׁא, the husband had made אַרוּסִין (what we refer to today and being engaged) but not yet נִישׂוּאִין (consummating the marriage). During the אַרוּסִין phase, the husband does not yet have any right to his wife’s possessions. Therefore if he dies prior to the נִישׂוּאִין, his brother, the יָבָם, can’t have any claim to his wife’s property that is greater than what he had. But in the סֵיפָא, according to עוּלָּא, we’re referring to the phase after נִישׂוּאִין, in which case the יָבָם does have a claim to the כֶּסֶף כְּתוּבָה and the נִכְסֵי צֹאן בַּרְזֶל, although not to the נִכְסֵי מְלוֹג.

This transitions us into דף ל״ח עמוּד ב, and well beyond the halfway point of the video, so enjoy the rest of the trip on your own.

About Leonard J. Press, O.D., FAAO, FCOVD

Developmental Optometry is my passion as well as occupation. Blogging allows me to share thoughts in a unique visual style.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Blog Yomi – Yevamos #37

  1. doctuhdon says:

    Superb discussion of complex topics !

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s