A firstborn does not receive a double portion of property that will later accrue to his father's estate, only of that property that was in his father's possession and had already entered his domain at the time of his death. This is derived from Deuteronomy 21:17 which states: "of everything that he possesses."

What is implied? If one of the people whose estate the father would inherit dies after he did, the firstborn and an ordinary son receive equal shares. Similarly, if the father was owed a debt or he owned a ship at sea, all sons share the inheritance equally.


אין הבכור נוטל פי שנים בנכסים הראויין לבא לאחר מיתת אביו אלא בנכסים המוחזקין לאביו שבאו לרשותו שנאמר בכל אשר ימצא לו, כיצד אחד ממורישי אביו שמת לאחר מיתת אביו הבכור והפשוט יורשין כאחד, וכן אם היתה לאביו מלוה או היתה לו ספינה בים יורשין כאחד. 1


If the father left his sons a cow that was rented out, hired out, or that was pasturing in open territory and it gave birth, the firstborn receives a double share of it and its offspring.


הניח להם פרה מושכרת או מוחכרת או שהיתה רועה באפר וילדה הבכור נוטל בה ובולדה פי שנים. 2


If one of the colleagues of a person's father slaughtered an animal and then the father died, the son is entitled to a double portion of the presents from that animal.


שחט אחד ממכירי אביו בהמה ואחר כך מת אביו נוטל פי שנים במתנות של אותה בהמה.


A firstborn does not receive a double portion of an increase to the value of the estate that accrued after his father's death. Instead, he should have the value of that increase assessed, and he should give the financial equivalent of the difference to the ordinary sons.

The above applies provided the property undergoes a change, e.g., budding grain became ears, or budding dates became dates. If, however, the value of the land improved as a matter of course, without undergoing a change - e.g., a small tree grew taller and thicker, or sediment was washed up onto land, the firstborn receives a double portion of the increase in value. If the property increased in value because of investment, he does not receive a double portion.


אין הבכור נוטל פי שנים בשבח ששבחו נכסים לאחר מיתת אביו אלא מעלה אותו השבח בדמים ונותן היתר לפשוט, והוא שישתנו הנכסים כגון כרמל שנעשו שבלים וכפניות שנעשו תמרים, אבל שבחו מחמת עצמן ולא נשתנו כגון אילן קטן שגדל ועבה וארץ שהעלתה שרטון הרי זה נוטל בשבח פי שנים, ואם מחמת הוצאה השביח אינו נוטל.


A firstborn does not receive a double share of a debt owed to his father. This applies even though the debt was supported by a promissory note and land was expropriated to pay the debt.

If the father was owed a debt by the firstborn, there is an unresolved doubt concerning the matter. It might be said that he should receive a double portion, because the money was in his possession. It could, however, be argued that he should not receive the extra amount, since he is inheriting it because of his father, and it did not enter his father's possession before his death. Therefore, he should take half of the firstborn's portion from it.


אין הבכור נוטל פי שנים במלוה אע"פ שהוא בשטר אע"ג שגבו קרקע בחוב אביהם, היה לאב מלוה ביד הבכור הרי זה ספק אם נוטל בה פי שנים הואיל וישנה תחת ידו, או לא יטול הואיל ומחמת אביו יירשנה ועדיין לא באה לידו של אביו, לפיכך יטול ממנה חצי חלק בכורה.


When a firstborn sells his extra share of the inheritance before the estate is divided, the sale is binding. For the firstborn's extra share is distinct, even before the estate is divided. Therefore, if initially, the firstborn divides a portion of the estate, either landed property or movable property, and accepts the same portion as an ordinary son, he is considered to have waived his right to an extra portion with regard to the entire estate. He receives only an ordinary son's share of the remainder.

When does the above apply? When he did not protest. If, however, he protested against his brothers and said in the presence of two witnesses: "Although I am dividing these grapes equally with my brothers, I have not waived my right to the firstborn's share," his protest is significant and he is not considered to have waived his right to the other property.

Even if he protested with regard to the division of grapes while they were still attached to the earth, and yet agreed to divide them equally after the harvest, he is not considered to have waived his right to the other property. If, however, the grapes were pressed, and he divided the wine equally with them and did not issue a protest when the wine was made, he is considered to have waived his right to the other property. To what can the matter be compared? To a person who issued a protest when grapes were divided but then divided olives equally, in which instance he is considered to have waived his rights to an extra portion of the entire estate.


בכור שמכר חלק בכורה קודם חלוקה ממכרו קיים מפני שיש לבכור חלק בכורה קודם חלוקה, לפיכך אם חלק עם אחיו קודם במקצת נכסים בין בקרקע בין במטלטלין ונטל חלק כפשוט ויתר בכל הנכסים אינו נוטל בשארן אלא כפשוט, במה דברים אמורים בשלא מיחה, אבל אם מיחה באחיו ואמר בפני שנים ענבים אלו שאני חולק עם אחי בשוה לא מפני שמחלתי בחלק בכורה הרי זה מחאה ולא ויתר בשאר נכסים, ואפילו מיחה בענבים כשהן מחוברים ובצרום וחלקום בשוה לא ויתר בשאר נכסים, אבל אם דרכום וחלק עמהן בשוה ביין ולא מיחה בהן משנעשה יין ויתר בשאר הנכסים, הא למה זה דומה למי שמיחה בענבים וחלק עמהם בשוה כזיתים שהרי ויתר בכל וכן כל כיוצא בזה. 3


The brother who performs the rite of yibbum, marrying his brother's childless widow, inherits all of the property in his estate at the time of his brother's death. With regard to any property that is fit to enter the deceased's estate afterwards, he receives the same share as the others. This concept is derived from the fact that the verse refers to him as a "firstborn," as Deuteronomy 25:6 states: "And the firstborn that she will bear will take the place of the brother who died, and thus his name will not be wiped out among Israel."

Just as the brother who performs the rite of yibbum does not acquire property that is fit to be acquired by the estate, in contrast to property that is within the estate; so, too, he does not acquire the increase in the estate's value.

To what does the latter phrase refer? To the increase in his deceased brother's share in his father's estate, which increased in value in the time between his father's death and the division of that estate among his brothers. Even if the property increased in value after he married his brother's widow, but before it was divided, he receives the same share of the increase as the other brothers. This applies despite the fact that he receives two shares of this property, his own share and the share of his brother whose widow he married. For the father died while they were all alive.


מי שיבם אשת אחיו הוא יורש כל נכסי אחיו המוחזקים, וכל הראויין לבא לאחר מכאן הרי הוא בהן ככל האחים שהרי בכור קרא אותו הכתוב שנאמר והיה הבכור אשר תלד יקום על שם אחיו המת ולא ימחה שמו מישראל, וכשם שאינו נוטל ממנו בראוי כבמוחזק כך אינו נוטל בשבח ששבחו נכסים אחרי מות אביו משעת מיתה עד שעת חלוקתו עם אחיו בנכסי אביו, ואפילו השביחו נכסים אחר שיבם וקודם שיחלקו הרי הוא בשבח כאחד מן האחין, אע"פ שנוטל מן הנכסים אלו שני חלקים חלקו וחלק אחיו שיבם אשתו הואיל ומת האב בחיי כולן.


We already explained in Hilchot Shechenim that the firstborn is given his two portions of a field together. This does not apply with regard to a person who marries his brother's childless widow. He receives his portion and his brother's portion by lot. If it happens that he is allotted portions in two different places, these are the portions he receives.


כבר ביארנו בהלכות שכנים שהבכור נוטל שני חלקים שלו כאחד במצר אחד, אבל היבם שחלק עם אחיו בנכסי אביו נוטל חלקו וחלק אחיו בגורל, ואם עלה גורלו בשני מקומות נוטל בשני מקומות.


The following laws apply when a childless widow who was waiting to be married by her deceased husband's brother dies. They apply even when one of the brothers designated her for marriage. Her family from her father's household inherit her nichsei m'log and half of her nichsei tzon barzel, and her husband's heirs inherit the money due her by virtue of her ketubah and the other half of her nichsei tzon barzel.

Since they inherit the money due her by virtue of her ketubah, her husband's heirs are obligated to bury her, as we have explained in the appropriate place.


שומרת יבם שמתה אפילו עשה בה אחד מן האחים מאמר משפחת בית אביה יורשין בנכסי מלוג וחצי נכסי צאן ברזל, ויורשי הבעל יורשין כתובתה עם חצי נכסי צאן ברזל ויורשי הבעל חייבין בקבורתה הואיל והן יירשו כתובתה כמו שביארנו במקומו.