Ketubat Benin Dichrin and Motar Dinar

Ketubot (10:2) | Yisrael Bankier | 12 years ago

One of the implicit terms of a ketubah is that the woman’s sons will inherit her ketubah. This means that if she dies before her husband, her husband still inherit the ketubah. If however he then dies, her sons will inherit that value aside from the even distribution of the estate. The implications of this decree are only really felt when the estate is to be divided amongst sons from different marriages. This is discussed in the tenth perek.

The Gemara (52b) explains that the reason for the takana of ketubat benin dichrin was that Chachamim were concerned that a girls father would be resistant in given her a large nedunya (dowry). He might be concern that his future son in law would inherit it and children from another marriage eventually inherit the bulk of it. Ketubat benin dichrin was therefore instituted to dispel such concerns from the father. 

The principle amount and anything extra the husband added to theketubah was also included to decree of ketubat benin dichrin for if it were not, there was still a concern that the bride’s father would refrains: “if my future son-in-law is holding back, so will I.” Interestingly the Gemara asks that in a case where a nedunya is not given, then ketubat benin dichrin should not apply to the principle and addition to the ketubah provided by the husbad. Nevertheless the Chachamim did not differentiate in their gezeiralo plug.

We have however learnt that there are limits to this takana. The Mishnah taught (10:2) that in a case where two groups of sons inherit there mother’s ketubot and there is only enough in the estate to cover the ketubot then the takanaof ketubat benin dichrin does not apply and the estate is distributed evenly (aside from the bechor). The reason is that the Chachamim did not want to institute the takana at the expense of doing away with the biblical laws of inheritance. If however there is one extra dinar (motar dinar) in the estate then the takana would apply.

With this in mind a question is raised on a ruling of the Rambam. If one instructs, when on his deathbed, that some of his property be given away (matanat schiv mera), the gift is effective. The Rambam (Ishut 19:13) rules that if one does so while all his property, then it does not include the basic condition of the ketubah. For example his wife and children as still supported by the estate and, relevant to our discussion, ketubat benin dichrin still applies. The question raised on this ruling is that once everything is given ways, there will be no longer be anything left over after – no motar dinar – so how then can ketubat benin dichrin still apply?

The Hafla’ah (111) answers, that the requirement of motar dinar was because the Chachamim did not want their takana to be the cause of effectively uprooting biblical inheritance. In this case however, even without ketubat benin dichrin, there would be nothing left for biblical inheritance. In other words, the takana would not be the cause; therefore the takana is still in place.

The Avnei Miluim (111:11) however provides a different answer. He explains that yerusha comes into affect at the point of death whereas matanat schiv mera is effective after death. This means at one point the yorshim inherit the estate and the recipient of the matana receives his gift from them. It follows then that the yerusha doraita is still preserved (albeit for a short time) consequently there is no issue with maintaining ketubat benin dichrin.


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