Ketubot, Chapter Ten, Mishnah Two

 

Introduction

In the previous mishnah we began to learn some rules about the “ketubath benin dichrin” which is the clause in the ketubah which states that sons inherit their mother’s ketubah above and beyond their split in their father’s inheritance.  Our mishnah teaches that this is only so when there is enough for there to be an inheritance of at least one denar after all of the “Ketubot benin dichrin” have been paid out.  The reason is that “ketubath benin dichrin” is an enactment of the Sages whereas inheritance laws are mandated by the Torah.  If we allowed the Ketubot benin dichrin to be collected and no inheritance to be split, than an enactment of the Sages would displace a law from the Torah.

 

Mishnah Two

1)                     If a man was married to two wives and they died, and subsequently he died, and the orphans [of one of the wives] claim their mother’s kethubah and there is only enough for the two kethuboth,[all the orphans] they divide it equally.  

2)                     If there was a surplus of [at least] one dinar, these take their mother’s ketubah and these take their mothers ketubah.  

3)                     If the orphans [of one of the wives] says, “We are raising the estate of our father by a denar [more than the total amount of the kethuboth]”, in order that they can take their mother’s kethubah, they are not listened to, rather the estate is evaluated by the court.

 

Explanation

Section one:  Let us say Reuven is married to two women, Leah and Hannah.  Leah has a ketubah of 1000 zuz and Hannah has a ketubah of 100 zuz.  After having children, both women die, and Reuven inherits both Ketubot.  When Reuven dies, Leah’s children want to collect their ketubah.  The Mishnah teaches that if there is only enough to pay back both Ketubot, i.e. there is only 1100 in Reuven’s estate, then all of the money is split evenly.  There must be an inheritance, since it is a Toraitic law. 

Section two:  If in the above case when Reuven dies he leaves an estate of more than 1100, even if the estate is only 1101, Leah’s children take their mother’s ketubah of 1000, Hannah’s children receive 100 and the last denar is split evenly.

Section three:  As we can see from the above scenario, it is definitely in Leah’s children’s best interest that there be a surplus over the value of the two Ketubot.  The mishnah now states that they may not artificially raise the value of the inheritance, by adding a denar or more, in order to take their mother’s ketubah.  If the estate was worth 1100, they may not pitch in one denar in order to make the estate worth 1101, so that they could take 1000.  If they try to do so they will be denied and the inheritance will be split evenly. 

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