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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Bathra

Folio 116a

shall not our perfect Torah be as [convincing] as your idle talk!1  [Your deduction is fallacious for] the reason2  why a son's daughter [has a right of inheritance is] because her claim is valid where there are brothers,3  but can the same he said of the [deceased's] daughter whose right [of inheritance] is impaired where there are brothers?4  Thus they were defeated. And that day was declared a festive day.5

And they said: 'They that are escaped must be as an inheritance for Benjamin,2  that a tribe be not blotted out from Israel',6  R. Isaac of the school of R. Ammi said: [This] teaches that a stipulation was made concerning the tribe of Benjamin that a son's daughter is not to be heir [together] with [his] brothers.7

R. Johanan said in the name of R. Simeon b. Yohai: The Holy One, blessed be He, is filled with anger against any one who does not leave a son to he his heir. [For] here it is written, And you shall cause his inheritance to pass,8  and there it is written, That day is a day of wrath.9

Such as have no changes, and fear not God;10  R. Johanan and R. Joshua b. Levi [are in dispute as to the exposition of this text]. One says: Whosoever does not leave behind a son.11  And the other says: Whosoever does not leave a disciple.11  It may he proved [that it was] R. Johanan who said 'a disciple'; for R. Johanan said:12  This is the bone of my tenth son.13  Thus it is proved that it was R. Johanan who said 'a disciple'. But since R. Johanan said, 'a disciple', R. Joshua b. Levi [must have] said 'a son'! [Is it not a fact,] however, that R. Joshua b. Levi did not go to a house of mourning unless it was the house of him who died without leaving any sons, for it is written, But weep sore for him that goeth away,14  and Rab Judah said in the name of Rab [that this means], 'he who goes [from the world] without [leaving] male children'?15  — But [it must be] R. Joshua b. Levi who said, 'a disciple'. Since, however, it is R. Joshua b. Levi who said 'a disciple', R. Johanan must have said, 'a son', a contradiction [then arises again16  between one statement] of R. Johanan and another statement of his?17  — There is no contradiction; one [statement] is his own;18  the other, his teacher's.

(Mnemonic19  Hadad, Poverty, Sage.)

R. Phinehas b. Hama gave the following exposition: With reference to the Scriptural text, And when Hadad heard in Egypt that David slept with his fathers, and that Joab the captain of the host was dead,20  why was [the expression of] 'sleeping' used in the case of David, and [that of] 'death' in the case of Joab? 'Sleeping' was used in the case of David because he left a son; 'Death' was used in the case of Joab because he left no son. Did not Joab leave a son? Surely, it is written, Of the sons of Joab, Obadiah the son of Jehiel!21  — But, [this is the reply,] with David who left a son like himself [the expression of] 'sleeping' was used; with Joab who did not leave a son like himself, 'death' was used.

R. Phinehas b. Hama gave the following exposition: Poverty in one's home is worse than fifty plagues, for it is said, Have Pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand22  of God hath touched me,23  and his friends answered him, Take heed, regard not inquiry; for this hast thou chosen rather than poverty.24

R. Phinehas b. Hama gave the following exposition: Whosoever has a sick person in his house should go to a Sage25  who will invoke [heavenly] mercy for him; as it is said: The wrath of a king26  is as messengers of death,' but a wise man will pacify it.27

THIS IS THE GENERAL RULE: THE LINEAL DESCENDANTS OF ANY ONE WITH A PRIORITY TO SUCCESSION TAKE PRECEDENCE. A FATHER TAKES PRECEDENCE OVER ALL HIS DESCENDANTS. Rami b. Hama inquired: [With regard to the claims of] a father of the father28  and a brother of the father,28  as, for example, [the claims of] Abraham and Ishmael upon the possessions of Esau,29  who takes precedence? — Raba said: Come and hear: A FATHER TAKES PRECEDENCE OVER ALL HIS DESCENDANTS.30  And Rami b. Hama?31  —

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. It was not intended, nor is there any need to dismiss you with what you call 'a feeble reply'. The purpose of the argument was that Anah was not the name of a male but that of a female (cf. Gen, XXXVI, 14), who was a daughter of Zibeon and a grand-daughter of Seir (cf. ibid, vv. 24 and 20). Since she was reckoned among the inhabitants of the land, i.e., one of those who inherited from Seir, sons' daughters must, consequently, have equal rights of succession in the estate of their grandfather. with his sons. Hence, 'your deduction is fallacious for the reason etc' (v. Tosaf. s.v. [H] and Bah's glosses).
  2. Though the law is not Specifically enunciated in the Torah it may be inferred by logical deduction,
  3. Of her father.
  4. As she is not entitled to the inheritance where her brothers are alive, so she is not entitled to it when a brother is survived by a daughter.
  5. [In Megillath Ta'anith the date assigned for the celebration of this event is 24th Ab. For a full discussion of this discrepancy. v. Zeitlin, S., JQR 1919, 278ff. The attitude of the Sadducees in this controversy was prompted according to Geiger, [H] III, I ff by their anxiety to defend against the attacks of the Pharisees the validity of Herodian succession to the Hashmonean throne through Mariamne, the daughter of Alexander and granddaughter of Hyrcanus; v. HUCA VII-VIII. 278ff.]
  6. Judges XXI, 17.
  7. In the estate of their father; but the surviving brothers are to inherit all the estate, including the share of their dead brother, though he is survived by a daughter. This provision had to be made at a time when only six hundred men of the tribe of Benjamin survived (Judges XX. 47) all of whom had married wives from other tribes (Ibid. vv. 14, 23). The entire possessions of the tribe having been divided and distributed between six hundred men only, the share of each individual was considerable, being a six hundredth part of all the property of the tribe. Should any daughter have inherited such a share, and then have married a member of another tribe, a large portion of the lands of the tribe would have passed over to those of another tribe. Hence the provision that a son's daughter is to have no share in the inheritance. The law enjoining a daughter to marry within the tribe of her father is held to have been only a temporary measure and not binding upon subsequent generations; v. infra 120a.
  8. Num. XXVII, 8, [H] we-ha'abartem.
  9. Zeph. I, 15. [H] 'ebrah. The root of this word, [H] is identical with that of [H]
  10. Ps. LV, 20.
  11. Changes, [H] is rendered 'a son (or a pupil) who takes his father's (or teacher's) place'.
  12. Ber, 5b.
  13. He carried with him a 'bone', which commentators understand to be a tooth, of his tenth dead son when going to comfort those who mourned the loss of a child. Now, if R. Johanan were of the opinion that Ps. LV, 20, has reference to a son, he would not have carried about that which stigmatised him as one who is not God-fearing.
  14. Jer. XXII, 10.
  15. If, then, R. Joshua said that such a person was not God-fearing, would he have gone to visit his house of mourning?
  16. V. n. 6.
  17. Lit., 'on that of R. Johanan'.
  18. His own opinion is in agreement with that of R. Joshua b. Levi.
  19. The mnemonic is an aid to the recollection of the three sayings of R. phinehas b. Hama that follow.
  20. I Kings XI, 21.
  21. Ezra VIII, 9.
  22. This implies fifty plagues. Ten plagues were inflicted on the Egyptians with one finger (V. Ex. VIII, 15). Job who was touched with five fingers (hand) must have been inflicted with fifty plagues
  23. Job XIX, 21.
  24. Ibid. XXXVI, 21. This, in the text, is taken to refer to Job's infliction, implying that poverty is even worse than all his fifty plagues.
  25. Lit., 'wise (man),' a scholar and saint.
  26. God's visitation.
  27. Prov. XVI, 14.
  28. Of the deceased.
  29. Abraham was the father, and Ishmael the brother of Isaac the father of Esau.
  30. He takes, therefore, precedence over a brother of the father of the deceased who is his descendant.
  31. Did he not know the law of our Mishnah?
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Baba Bathra 116b

In1  his ingenuity he did not consider it2  carefully.3

Rami b. Hama inquired: [Regarding the claims of] the father of his4  father and his4  brother as, for example. [the claims of] Abraham and Jacob upon the possessions of Esau, who takes precedence? — Raba said: Come and hear! A FATHER TAKES PRECEDENCE OVER ALL HIS DESCENDANTS.5  And Rami h. Hama?6  — [A father might take precedence over] HIS DESCENDANTS but not [necessarily over] the descendants of his son.7  Logical reasoning [leads to] the same [conclusion]; for it is stated, THIS IS THE GENERAL RULE: THE LINEAL DESCENDANTS OF ANY ONE WITH A PRIORITY TO SUCCESSION TAKE PRECEDENCE. If, [then,] Isaac8  had been [alive], Isaac would have taken precedence.9  now, also, that Isaac [himself] is not [alive], Jacob10  [should] take precedence.


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Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. Lit., 'on account of', 'by way of'.
  2. His enquiry.
  3. He was thinking at the time of the next question.
  4. Of the deceased.
  5. Hence the deceased father's father takes precedence over the deceased brother who is also a descendant of his.
  6. V. supran n. 3.
  7. Hence Rami's inquiry.
  8. The father of the deceased.
  9. Being the nearest heir.
  10. The brother of the departed, being a lineal descendant of Isaac.
  11. V. Num. XXVII, 1-7.
  12. After Joshua's conquest.
  13. Canaan having been divided according to the number of those who came out of Egypt. V. infra.
  14. Zelophehad's father who also was among those who came out of Egypt.
  15. Zelophehad.
  16. Cf. Deut. XXI, 17.
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