Ketubot, Chapter Ten, Mishnah One
Above in chapter four, mishnah ten, we learned that sons inherit their mothers Ketubot, above and beyond the inheritance they receive from their father. This clause in the mishnah is called ketubat benin dichrin which is Aramaic for the ketubah of male children. Our mishnah talks about situations in which a man had two wives and either he died or both of the wives died.
1) If a man was married to two wives and died, the first wife takes precedence over the second, and the heirs of the first wife take precedence over the heirs of the second.
2) If he married a first wife and she died and then he married a second wife and he died, the second wife and her heirs take precedence over the heirs of the first wife.
Section one: If a man dies and leaves two wives, the first wifes ketubah takes precedence over that of the second wife. If after the first wife collects her ketubah not enough money remains to pay the second wife, she will not receive her full ketubah. This is because the debt to the first wife was incurred before the debt to the second wife.
If before they collect their ketubah, the wives die, the first wifes heirs take the ketubah before the second wifes heirs take theirs.
Section two: In this case the first wife dies while the husband is still alive, and he inherits her and her ketubah. He then marries a second wife and he dies. The first wifes heirs want to now collect the ketubah (ketubat benin dichrin) from their mother, as I explained in the introduction. The second wife, or if she subsequently dies, her heirs, want their ketubah. The mishnah rules that the second wife or her heirs collect first because they are collecting a normal ketubah and they are like creditors who come to collect a debt. In contrast the first wifes inheritors are collecting an inheritance which they have received from their mother and the payment of debts always takes precedence over inheritance. Therefore the second wife or her heirs receives their ketubah and only if enough money remains will the first wifes heirs receive their ketubah.