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ב"ה

Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Nachalot - Chapter 6, Nachalot - Chapter 7, Nachalot - Chapter 8

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Nachalot - Chapter 6

1

Although all that is involved is money, a person may not give property as an inheritance to a person who is not fit to inherit, nor may he exclude a rightful heir from inheriting. This is derived from the verse in the passage concerning inheritance, Numbers 27:11: "And it shall be for the children of Israel as a statute of judgment."

This verse implies that this statute will never change, and no stipulation can be made with regard to it. Whether a person made statements while he was healthy or on his deathbed, whether orally or in writing, they are of no consequence.

א

אֵין אָדָם יָכוֹל לְהוֹרִישׁ לְמִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ רָאוּי לְיָרְשׁוֹ וְלֹא לַעֲקֹר הַיְרֻשָּׁה מִן הַיּוֹרֵשׁ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁזֶּה מָמוֹן הוּא. לְפִי שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בְּפָרָשַׁת נְחָלוֹת (במדבר כז יא) "וְהָיְתָה לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לְחֻקַּת מִשְׁפָּט" לוֹמַר שֶׁחֻקָּה זוֹ לֹא נִשְׁתַּנָּה וְאֵין הַתְּנַאי מוֹעִיל בָּהּ. בֵּין שֶׁצִּוָּה וְהוּא בָּרִיא בֵּין שֶׁהָיָה שְׁכִיב מֵרַע בֵּין עַל פֶּה בֵּין בִּכְתָב אֵינוֹ מוֹעִיל:

2

Therefore, if a person states: "So-and-so is my firstborn son, he should not receive a double portion," or "My son so-and-so should not inherit my estate together with his brothers," his statements are of no consequence. Similarly, if he says: "Let so-and-so inherit my estate" when the dying man has a daughter, or "Let my daughter inherit my estate" when he has a son, his statements are of no consequence. Similar laws apply in all analogous situations.

If, however, he had many heirs - e.g., many sons, brothers, or many daughters - and he says while on his deathbed: "Of all my brothers, only my brother so-and-so should inherit my estate," or "Of all my daughters, only my daughter so-and-so should inherit my estate," his words are binding. This applies whether he made these statements orally or in writing.

If, however, he states: "My son so-and-so should be my sole heir," different rules apply]. If he made this statement orally, his words are binding. If, however, he had a document composed stating that his entire estate should be given to one son, he is considered merely to have appointed him as a guardian, as explained.

ב

לְפִיכָךְ הָאוֹמֵר אִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי בְּנִי בְּכוֹרִי לֹא יִטּל פִּי שְׁנַיִם. אִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי בְּנִי לֹא יִירַשׁ עִם אֶחָיו. לֹא אָמַר כְּלוּם. אִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי יִירָשֵׁנִי בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ בַּת. בִּתִּי תִּירָשֵׁנִי בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ בֵּן. לֹא אָמַר כְּלוּם. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה. אֲבָל הָיוּ לוֹ יוֹרְשִׁין רַבִּים כְּגוֹן בָּנִים רַבִּים אוֹ אַחִים אוֹ בָּנוֹת וְאָמַר כְּשֶׁהוּא שְׁכִיב מֵרַע פְּלוֹנִי אָחִי יִירָשֵׁנִי מִכְּלַל אֶחַי אוֹ בִּתִּי פְּלוֹנִית תִּירָשֵׁנִי מִכְּלַל בְּנוֹתַי דְּבָרָיו קַיָּמִין בֵּין שֶׁאָמַר עַל פֶּה בֵּין שֶׁכָּתַב בִּכְתָב. אֲבָל אִם אָמַר פְּלוֹנִי בְּנִי יִירָשֵׁנִי לְבַדּוֹ אִם אָמַר עַל פֶּה דְּבָרָיו קַיָּמִין. אֲבָל אִם כָּתַב כָּל נְכָסָיו לִבְנוֹ לֹא עָשָׂהוּ אֶלָּא אַפּוֹטְרוֹפּוֹס כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:

3

If a person states: "So-and-so my son should inherit half my estate and my other sons should inherit the other half," his words are binding. If, however, he states: "My firstborn should inherit as an ordinary son," or "My firstborn should not receive a double portion among his brothers," his words are of no consequence. This is derived from Deuteronomy 21:16-17: "He cannot give the firstborn rights to the son of the beloved instead of the firstborn, the son of the hated. Instead, he shall recognize the firstborn, the son of the hated."i4

ג

אָמַר פְּלוֹנִי בְּנִי יִירַשׁ חֲצִי נְכָסַי וּשְׁאָר בָּנַי הַחֵצִי דְּבָרָיו קַיָּמִין. אֲבָל אִם אָמַר הַבְּכוֹר יִירַשׁ כַּפָּשׁוּט אוֹ שֶׁאָמַר לֹא יִירַשׁ פִּי שְׁנַיִם עִם אֶחָיו לֹא אָמַר כְּלוּם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כא טז) "לֹא יוּכַל לְבַכֵּר אֶת בֶּן הָאֲהוּבָה עַל פְּנֵי בֶן הַשְּׂנוּאָה הַבְּכֹר" (דברים כא יז) "כִּי אֶת הַבְּכֹר בֶּן הַשְּׂנוּאָה יַכִּיר":

4

If the person desiring to bequeath his estate was healthy, he may not increase or decrease either the portion of the firstborn or that of any other heirs.

ד

וְאִם הָיָה בָּרִיא אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהוֹסִיף וְלֹא לִגְרֹעַ לֹא לַבְּכוֹר וְלֹא לְאֶחָד מִשְּׁאָר הַיּוֹרְשִׁין:

5

When does the above apply? When the person making the bequest uses the expression "inherit." If, however, he gives a present, his statements are binding.

Accordingly, when a person apportions his estate verbally to his sons on his deathbed, his statements are binding even though he gave a greater portion to one, reduced the portion of another and equated the portion of the firstborn with that of his other sons. If, however, he used wording that speaks of "inheritance," his statements are of no consequence.

ה

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים כְּשֶׁאָמַר בִּלְשׁוֹן יְרֻשָּׁה. אֲבָל אִם נָתַן מַתָּנָה דְּבָרָיו קַיָּמִין. לְפִיכָךְ הַמְחַלֵּק נְכָסָיו עַל פִּיו לְבָנָיו כְּשֶׁהוּא שְׁכִיב מֵרַע רִבָּה לְאֶחָד וּמִעֵט לְאֶחָד וְהִשְׁוָה לָהֶן הַבְּכוֹר דְּבָרָיו קַיָּמִין. וְאִם אָמַר מִשּׁוּם יְרֻשָּׁה לֹא אָמַר כְּלוּם:

6

If, when apportioning his estate, a person wrote that he is giving his estate as a present, whether at the beginning, the middle, or the end, his statement is binding even though he also spoke of an inheritance.

What is implied? The person said: "Have this-and-this field given to so-and-so, my son, and let him inherit it," "Let him inherit this-and-this field, have it given to him and let him inherit it," or "Let him inherit it and have it given to him." Since he mentioned a present, even though he spoke of an inheritance at the beginning and/or at the end of his statements, his words are binding.

Similarly, if he was apportioning three fields to three different heirs, and he said: "May so-and-so inherit this-and-this field. This-and-this field should be given to so-and-so, and so-and-so should inherit this-and-this field," the intended recipients acquire the gifts even though wording indicating an inheritance was used with regard to one individual, and wording indicating a present was used with regard to another.

This applies provided that the person making the bequest did not make a significant pause between his statements. If, however, he paused, he must mention giving a present with regard to all three individuals.

ו

כָּתַב בֵּין בַּתְּחִלָּה בֵּין בָּאֶמְצַע בֵּין בַּסּוֹף מִשּׁוּם מַתָּנָה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִזְכִּיר לְשׁוֹן יְרֻשָּׁה בַּתְּחִלָּה וּבַסּוֹף דְּבָרָיו קַיָּמִין. כֵּיצַד. תִּנָּתֵן שָׂדֶה פְּלוֹנִי לִפְלוֹנִי בְּנִי וְיִירָשֶׁנָּה. אוֹ שֶׁאָמַר יִירָשֶׁנָּה וְתִנָּתֵן לוֹ וְיִירָשֶׁנָּה. אוֹ יִירָשֶׁנָּה וְתִנָּתֵן לוֹ. הוֹאִיל וְיֵשׁ שָׁם לְשׁוֹן מַתָּנָה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִזְכִּיר לְשׁוֹן יְרֻשָּׁה בַּתְּחִלָּה וּבַסּוֹף דְּבָרָיו קַיָּמִין. וְכֵן אִם הָיוּ שָׁלֹשׁ שָׂדוֹת לִשְׁלֹשָׁה יוֹרְשִׁין וְאָמַר יִירַשׁ פְּלוֹנִי שָׂדֶה פְּלוֹנִית וְתִנָּתֵן לִפְלוֹנִי שָׂדֶה פְּלוֹנִית וְיִירַשׁ פְּלוֹנִי שָׂדֶה פְּלוֹנִית קָנוּ. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁזֶּה שֶׁאָמַר לוֹ בִּלְשׁוֹן יְרֻשָּׁה אֵינוֹ זֶה שֶׁאָמַר לוֹ בִּלְשׁוֹן מַתָּנָה. וְהוּא שֶׁלֹּא יִשְׁהֶה בֵּין אֲמִירָה לַאֲמִירָה כְּדֵי דִּבּוּר. אֲבָל אִם שָׁהָה צָרִיךְ שֶׁיְּהֵא לְשׁוֹן הַמַּתָּנָה מְעֹרָב בִּשְׁלָשְׁתָּן:

7

What is implied? If the wording mentioning a present was in the middle, he should say: "So-and-so, so-and-so, and so-and-so, should inherit this-and-this field, this-and-this field, and this-and-this field that I gave them as a present, and they should inherit it."

If the wording mentioning a present was in the beginning, he should say: "May this-and-this field, this-and-this field, and this-and-this field be given to so-and-so, so-and-so, and so-and-so, and they should inherit it."

If the wording mentioning a present was at the end, he should say: "May so-and-so, so-and-so, and so-and-so, inherit this-and-this field, this-and-this field, and this-and-this field that I gave to them as a present."

ז

כֵּיצַד. אִם הָיָה לְשׁוֹן הַמַּתָּנָה בָּאֶמְצַע יֹאמַר פְּלוֹנִי וּפְלוֹנִי יִירְשׁוּ שָׂדֶה פְּלוֹנִי וּפְלוֹנִי שֶׁנְּתַתִּים לָהֶן בְּמַתָּנָה וְיִירָשׁוּם. וְאִם הָיָה לְשׁוֹן הַמַּתָּנָה בַּתְּחִלָּה יֹאמַר תִּנָּתֵן שָׂדֶה פְּלוֹנִי וּפְלוֹנִי לִפְלוֹנִי וּפְלוֹנִי וְיִירָשׁוּם. וְאִם הָיָה לְשׁוֹן הַמַּתָּנָה בַּסּוֹף יֹאמַר יִירַשׁ פְּלוֹנִי וּפְלוֹנִי (וּפְלוֹנִי) שָׂדֶה פְּלוֹנִי וּפְלוֹנִי (וּפְלוֹנִי) שֶּׁנְּתַתִּים לָהֶן בְּמַתָּנָה:

8

Although a husband's right to inherit his wife's estate is a Rabbinic decree, our Sages reinforced their words and gave them the strength of Scriptural Law. Hence, a stipulation in which the husband waives his right to her inheritance is not effective unless he made this stipulation while the woman was consecrated, as we have explained in Hilchot Ishut.

ח

יְרֻשַּׁת הַבַּעַל אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִיא מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם עָשׂוּ חִזּוּק לְדִבְרֵיהֶם כְּשֶׁל תּוֹרָה. וְאֵין הַתְּנַאי מוֹעִיל בָּהּ אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן הִתְנָה עִמָּהּ כְּשֶׁהִיא אֲרוּסָה כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ בְּהִלְכוֹת אִישׁוּת:

9

According to Scriptural Law, a gentile inherits his father's estate. With regard to other inheritances, we allow them to follow their own customs.

ט

הָעַכּוּ''ם יוֹרֵשׁ אֶת אָבִיו דְּבַר תּוֹרָה. אֲבָל שְׁאָר יְרֻשּׁוֹתֵיהֶן מַנִּיחִין אוֹתוֹ לְפִי מִנְהָגָם:

10

A convert does not inherit the estate of his father, a gentile. Nevertheless, our Sages ordained that he be able to inherit the estate as he was entitled previously, lest he return to rebellion against God.

It appears to me that a stipulation can be made with regard to this inheritance, for a gentile is not obligated to accept our Sages' ordinances.

A gentile does not inherit the estate of his father, a convert, nor does one convert inherit another convert's estate, neither according to Scriptural Law nor according to Rabbinic Law.

י

וְהַגֵּר אֵינוֹ יוֹרֵשׁ אֶת אָבִיו הָעַכּוּ''ם אֶלָּא מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם תִּקְּנוּ לוֹ שֶׁיִּירַשׁ כְּשֶׁהָיָה שֶׁמָּא יַחְזֹר לְמִרְדּוֹ. וְיֵרָאֶה לִי שֶׁתְּנַאי מוֹעִיל בִּירֻשָּׁה זוֹ הוֹאִיל וְאֵין הָעַכּוּ''ם מְחֻיָּב לַעֲמֹד בְּתַקָּנַת חֲכָמִים. וְאֵין הָעַכּוּ''ם יוֹרֵשׁ אֶת אָבִיו הַגֵּר וְלֹא גֵּר יוֹרֵשׁ אֶת גֵּר לֹא מִדִּבְרֵי תּוֹרָה וְלֹא מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים:

11

Our Sages did not derive satisfaction from a person who gives his property to others, taking it away from his heirs. This applies even when the heirs do not conduct themselves properly toward him. Nevertheless, the recipients acquire everything that was given to them.

It is an attribute of piety for a pious person not to act as a witness with regard to a will in which property is being taken from an heir. This applies even when the property is being taken from a son who does not conduct himself properly, and being given to a brother who is wise and who conducts himself properly.

יא

כָּל הַנּוֹתֵן נְכָסָיו לַאֲחֵרִים וְהִנִּיחַ הַיּוֹרְשִׁין. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין הַיּוֹרְשִׁין נוֹהֲגִין (בּוֹ) כַּשּׁוּרָה אֵין רוּחַ חֲכָמִים נוֹחָה הֵימֶנּוּ. וְזָכוּ הָאֲחֵרִים בְּכָל מַה שֶּׁנָּתַן לָהֶן. מִדַּת חֲסִידוּת הִיא שֶׁלֹּא יָעִיד אָדָם חָסִיד בְּצַוָּאָה שֶׁמַּעֲבִירִין בּוֹ הַיְרֻשָּׁה מִן הַיּוֹרֵשׁ אֲפִלּוּ מִבֵּן שֶׁאֵינוֹ נוֹהֵג כַּשּׁוּרָה לְאָחִיו חָכָם וְנוֹהֵג כַּשּׁוּרָה:

12

Although a Jew converts out of the faith, he retains the right to inherit the estates of his Jewish relatives as before. If, however, the court sees fit to make him forfeit his money and penalize him by preventing him from receiving the inheritance so as not to strengthen his hand, they have that power. If he has children " among the Jewish people, the inheritance due their father, the apostate, should be given to them. This is the custom that is always followed in the West.

יב

יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁהֵמִיר יוֹרֵשׁ אֶת קְרוֹבָיו הַיִּשְׂרְאֵלִים כְּשֶׁהָיָה. וְאִם רָאוּ בֵּית דִּין לְאַבֵּד אֶת מָמוֹנוֹ וּלְקָנְסוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יִירַשׁ כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא לְחַזֵּק אֶת יְדֵיהֶם הָרְשׁוּת בְּיָדָן. וְאִם יֵשׁ לוֹ בָּנִים בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל תִּנָּתֵן יְרֻשַּׁת אֲבִיהֶן הַמּוּמָר לָהֶן. וְכֵן הַמִּנְהָג תָּמִיד בַּמַּעֲרָב:

13

Our Sages commanded that a person should not differentiate between his children in his lifetime, even with regard to a small matter, lest this spawn competition and envy as happened with Joseph and his brothers.

יג

צִוּוּ חֲכָמִים שֶׁלֹּא יְשַׁנֶּה אָדָם בֵּין הַבָּנִים בְּחַיָּיו אֲפִלּוּ בְּדָבָר מוּעָט שֶׁלֹּא יָבוֹאוּ לִידֵי תַּחֲרוּת וְקִנְאָה כַּאֲחֵי יוֹסֵף עִם יוֹסֵף:

Nachalot - Chapter 7

1

Heirs are not given their inheritance until they bring clear proof that the person whose estate they are inheriting did in fact die. Even if they heard that he died, or gentiles mentioned that he died in the course of conversation, despite the fact that this is sufficient for license to be given for the person's wife to remarry and to receive the money due her by virtue of her ketubah, the heirs do not receive their inheritance on this basis.

א

אֵין הַיּוֹרְשִׁין נוֹחֲלִין עַד שֶׁיָּבִיאוּ רְאָיָה בְּרוּרָה שֶׁמֵּת מוֹרִישָׁן. אֲבָל אִם שָׁמְעוּ בּוֹ שֶׁמֵּת אוֹ שֶׁבָּאוּ עַכּוּ''ם מְשִׂיחִין לְפִי תֻּמָּן. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁמַּשִּׂיאִין אֶת אִשְׁתּוֹ עַל פִּיהֶם וְנוֹטֵל כְּתֻבָּתָהּ אֵין הַיּוֹרְשִׁין נוֹחֲלִין עַל פִּיהֶם:

2

When a woman comes and states: "My husband died," although her testimony is accepted and she is given license to remarry and to receive the money due her by virtue of her ketubah, the heirs do not receive their inheritance on this basis.

If she testifies: "My husband died," and is married by his brother, the brother receives the deceased's estate on the basis of her testimony. This is derived from Deuteronomy 25:6: "He will assume the name of his deceased brother," and he has assumed his position.

ב

הָאִשָּׁה שֶׁבָּאת וְאָמְרָה מֵת בַּעְלִי אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִיא נֶאֱמֶנֶת וְתִנָּשֵׂא וְתִטּל כְּתֻבָּתָהּ אֵין הַיּוֹרְשִׁין נִכְנָסִין לַנַּחֲלָה עַל פִּיהָ. אָמְרָה מֵת בַּעְלִי וְנִתְיַבְּמָה הֲרֵי יְבָמָהּ נִכְנַס לַנַּחֲלָה עַל פִּיהָ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כה ו) "יָקוּם עַל שֵׁם אָחִיו הַמֵּת" וַהֲרֵי קָם:

3

When a person drowned in a body of water that has no end, and witnesses testify that he drowned in their presence and all traces of him were lost, his heirs may inherit his estate on the basis of their testimony, despite the fact that, at the outset, his wife is not permitted to remarry in this situation.

Similarly, if witnesses come and testify that they saw a person fall into a lions' or tigers' den, they saw him crucified with birds eating from his body, he was pierced in battle and died, or he was killed, but his face was not recognizable, but there were definitive signs on his body and they were identified - with regard to these and similar situations, if all traces of the person were lost afterwards, the heirs may assume possession of the inheritance because of such testimony, although the person's wife is not given license to marry.

I maintain that our Sages were stringent concerning these matters only because of the severity of the prohibition involving karet involved. With regard to financial matters, by contrast, if witnesses testify with regard to matters that we can presume will lead to death, saying that they saw these matters, all traces of the person are lost, and afterwards it is heard that he died, we allow the heirs to assume possession of the estate on this basis. This is the standard practice followed on an everyday basis in all courts of law. We have not heard about anyone who rules differently regarding this matter.

ג

מִי שֶׁטָּבַע בְּמַיִם שֶׁאֵין לָהֶם סוֹף וּבָאוּ עֵדִים שֶׁטָּבַע בִּפְנֵיהֶם וְאָבַד זִכְרוֹ. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין מַשִּׂיאִין אֶת אִשְׁתּוֹ לְכַתְּחִלָּה הֲרֵי הַיּוֹרְשִׁין נוֹחֲלִין עַל פִּיהֶם. וְכֵן אִם בָּאוּ עֵדִים שֶׁרָאוּהוּ שֶׁנָּפַל לְגוֹב אֲרָיוֹת וּנְמֵרִים אוֹ שֶׁרָאוּהוּ צָלוּב וְהָעוֹף אוֹכֵל בּוֹ. אוֹ שֶׁנִּדְקַר בַּמִּלְחָמָה וּמֵת אוֹ שֶׁנֶּהֱרַג וְלֹא הִכִּירוּ פָּנָיו אֲבָל הָיוּ לוֹ סִימָנִים מֻבְהָקִין בְּגוּפוֹ וְהִכִּירוּ אוֹתָם. בְּכָל אֵלּוּ הַדְּבָרִים וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן אִם אָבַד זִכְרוֹ אַחַר כָּךְ יוֹרְדִין לַנַּחֲלָה בְּעֵדוּת זוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין מַשִּׂיאִין אֶת אִשְׁתּוֹ. שֶׁאֲנִי אוֹמֵר שֶׁלֹּא הֶחְמִירוּ בִּדְבָרִים אֵלּוּ אֶלָּא מִפְּנֵי אִסּוּר כָּרֵת. אֲבָל לְעִנְיַן מָמוֹן אִם הֵעִידוּ הָעֵדִים בִּדְבָרִים שֶׁחֶזְקָתָן לְמִיתָה וְהֵעִידוּ שֶׁרָאוּ אוֹתָן הַדְּבָרִים וְאָבַד זִכְרוֹ וְאַחַר כָּךְ נִשְׁמַע שֶׁמֵּת הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ נוֹחֲלִין עַל פִּיהֶן. וְכָזֶה מַעֲשִׂים בְּכָל יוֹם בְּכָל בָּתֵּי דִּינִין וְלֹא שָׁמַעְנוּ מִי שֶׁחָלַק בְּדָבָר זֶה:

4

When a report was heard that a person who had been captive died, and the heirs assumed possession of his estate and divided it among themselves, we do not expropriate it from their possession. A similar law applies when a report is heard about the death of a person who fled because of danger to his life."

If, however, a report was heard that a person who voluntarily left his city died, and the heirs assumed possession of his estate and divided it among themselves, we do expropriate it from their possession unless they bring proof that this person died.

ד

שָׁבוּי שֶׁנִּשְׁבָּה וְשָׁמְעוּ שֶׁמֵּת וְיָרְדוּ יוֹרְשָׁיו לַנַּחֲלָה וְחָלְקוּ אוֹתָהּ בֵּינֵיהֶם אֵין מוֹצִיאִין אוֹתָהּ מִיָּדָן. וְכֵן הַבּוֹרֵחַ מֵחֲמַת סַכָּנָה. אֲבָל הַיּוֹצֵא לְדַעַת שֶׁשָּׁמְעוּ בּוֹ שֶׁמֵּת וְיָרְדוּ יוֹרְשָׁיו לִנְכָסָיו וְחִלְּקוּם מוֹצִיאִין מִיָּדָן עַד שֶׁיָּבִיאוּ רְאָיָה שֶׁמֵּת מוֹרִישָׁן:

5

The court is obligated to take responsibility for the property belonging to a person who was taken captive or one who fled because of mortal danger.

What do they do? They entrust all the movable property to a person deemed trustworthy by the court for safekeeping. They give possession of the landed property to relatives who are fit to inherit it, so that they would work the land and care for the property until they know whether the person died or he comes.

When the person who was taken captive or who fled comes, we evaluate the increase in value brought about by the relatives who were granted trusteeship and the benefit they received according to the norms applying to sharecroppers in that region.

Why does the court not appoint a guardian at all times, both for movable property and for landed property, until the owners come or until it is definitely known that they died? Because the court is not obligated to appoint guardians for adults who are intellectually mature.

ה

שָׁבוּי שֶׁנִּשְׁבָּה וּבָרַח מֵחֲמַת סַכָּנַת נְפָשׁוֹת חַיָּבִין בֵּית דִּין לְהִתְעַסֵּק בְּנִכְסֵיהֶן. כֵּיצַד עוֹשִׂין. כָּל הַמִּטַּלְטְלִין יִהְיוּ מֻפְקָדִין בְּיַד נֶאֱמָן עַל פִּי בֵּית דִּין וּמוֹרִידִין לְתוֹךְ הַקַּרְקָעוֹת קְרוֹבִין הָרְאוּיִין לִירֻשָּׁה כְּדֵי לַעֲבֹד אֶת הַקַּרְקָעוֹת וּלְהִתְעַסֵּק בָּהֶן עַד שֶׁיִּוָּדַע שֶׁמֵּתוּ אוֹ עַד שֶׁיָּבוֹאוּ. וְלִכְשֶׁיָּבוֹא הַשָּׁבוּי וְהַבּוֹרֵחַ שָׁמִין אֵלּוּ הַקְּרוֹבִים שֶׁהוּרְדוּ מַה שֶּׁעָשׂוּ וּמַה שֶּׁאָכְלוּ כְּמִנְהַג כָּל הָאֲרִיסִין שֶׁל אוֹתָהּ הַמְּדִינָה. וְלָמָּה לֹא יַעֲמִידוּ בֵּית דִּין אַפּוֹטְרוֹפּוֹס לְעוֹלָם בֵּין בְּמִטַּלְטְלִים בֵּין בְּקַרְקָעוֹת עַד שֶׁיָּבוֹאוּ הַבְּעָלִים אוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּוָּדַע בְּוַדַּאי שֶׁמֵּתוּ. לְפִי שֶׁאֵין בֵּית דִּין חַיָּבִין לְהַעֲמִיד אַפּוֹטְרוֹפּוֹס לִגְדוֹלִים שֶׁהֵן בְּנֵי דַּעַת:

6

When a person was taken captive or fled because of danger and left standing grain to reap, or grapes, dates or olives to harvest, the court takes possession of their property and appoints a guardian who will reap or harvest this produce and sell it. The money is then entrusted to the court for safekeeping together with the remainder of the movable property. Afterwards, the relative is given possession of the property as stated in the previous halachah. This procedure is followed because if the relative were given the land at the outset, he might harvest this produce - for it is already as if it had been reaped - and consume it.

This concept also applies with regard to courtyards, inns and stores that are fit to be rented out, do not need work, for here is no difficulty in tending to them, and they are usually not given out in a sharecropping agreement. We do not place them in the possession of an heir, for he would collect the rent and consume it.

What is done instead? The court appoints a collector and has the rent placed in the court until the heir brings proof that the owner died or until the owner comes and takes his property.

ו

נִשְׁבָּה הַשָּׁבוּי וּבָרַח הַמְסֻכָּן וְהִנִּיחַ קָמָה לִקְצֹר וַעֲנָבִים לִבְצֹר תְּמָרִים לִגְדֹּר וְזֵיתִים לִמְסֹק. בֵּית דִּין יוֹרְדִים לִנְכָסָיו וּמַעֲמִידִין לָהֶן אַפּוֹטְרוֹפּוֹס וְקוֹצֵר וּבוֹצֵר וְגוֹדֵר וּמוֹסֵק וּמוֹכֵר הַפֵּרוֹת. וּמַנִּיחִין דְּמֵיהֶן עִם שְׁאָר הַמִּטַּלְטְלִין בְּבֵית דִּין וְאַחַר כָּךְ מוֹרִידִין הַקָּרוֹב לִנְכָסָיו. שֶׁאִם יֵרֵד תְּחִלָּה שֶׁמָּא יִתְלֹשׁ אֵלּוּ הַפֵּרוֹת שֶׁהֵן כִּתְלוּשִׁין וְיֹאכַל אוֹתָן. וְהוּא הַדִּין בַּחֲצֵרוֹת וּפֻנְדָּקִיּוֹת וַחֲנֻיּוֹת הָעֲשׂוּיוֹת לְשָׂכָר וְאֵינָן צְרִיכִין עֲבוֹדָה וְלֹא טוֹרֵחַ וְאֵין אָדָם נוֹתֵן אוֹתָן בַּאֲרִיסוּת. אֵין מוֹרִידִין לָהֶם יוֹרֵשׁ שֶׁהֲרֵי גּוֹבֶה הַשָּׂכָר וְאוֹכֵל. אֶלָּא כֵּיצַד עוֹשִׂין. בֵּית דִּין מַעֲמִידִין לָהֶן גַּבַּאי וְיִהְיֶה הַשָּׂכָר מֻנָּח בְּבֵית דִּין עַד שֶׁיָּבִיא רְאָיָה שֶׁמֵּת אוֹ עַד שֶׁיָּבוֹא וְיִטּל שֶׁלּוֹ:

7

A relative is never given possession of property other than fields, gardens, vineyards and the like. In these properties, he is considered as a sharecropper. This measure is instituted so that the properties will not be ruined and be left fallow and desolate.

ז

וְאֵין מוֹרִידִין הַקָּרוֹב לְעוֹלָם אֶלָּא לְשָׂדוֹת וּלְגַנּוֹת וּכְרָמִים וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן שֶׁיִּהְיֶה בָּהֶן כְּאָרִיס כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יֻפְסְדוּ וְנִמְצְאוּ בּוּרִים וּנְשַׁמִּים:

8

The following laws apply when a person left his dwelling place voluntarily, abandoning his property, and we do not where he went or what happened to him. We do not give his property to a relative. If, however, a relative takes possession of it, we do not remove him from it. The court does not have the responsibility to tend to such a person's property and appoint a guardian, neither for the landed property nor for the movable property. The rationale is that he voluntarily departed and abandoned his property.

What are the laws governing this person's property? The movable property should remain in the possession of the person in whose domain it is found until this person comes and claims it or until he dies and it is claimed by heirs.

ח

מִי שֶׁיָּצָא לְדַעַת וְהִנִּיחַ נְכָסָיו וְאֵין יָדוּעַ לְהֵיכָן הָלַךְ וְלֹא מָה אֵרַע לוֹ. אֵין מוֹרִידִין קָרוֹב לִנְכָסָיו. וְאִם יָרַד אֵין מְסַלְּקִין אוֹתוֹ. וְאֵין בֵּית דִּין צְרִיכִין לְהִטַּפֵּל בּוֹ וּלְהַעֲמִיד לוֹ אַפּוֹטְרוֹפּוֹס לֹא לַקַּרְקַע וְלֹא לַמִּטַּלְטְלִין שֶׁהֲרֵי לְדַעְתּוֹ יָצָא וְהִנִּיחַ נְכָסָיו. וְכֵיצַד יִהְיֶה דִּין נִכְסֵי זֶה. מִטַּלְטְלִין יַעַמְדוּ בְּיַד זֶה שֶׁהֵן תַּחַת יָדוֹ עַד שֶׁיָּבוֹא זֶה וְיִתְבַּע אוֹ עַד שֶׁיָּמוּת וְיִתְבְּעוּ הַיּוֹרְשִׁין:

9

With regard to landed property in which he left someone dwelling, we do not collect rent from him. If there is a field or a vineyard left to a sharecropper, it should remain as he left it until he comes. If he left a field or a vineyard fallow, it should be left fallow. The rationale is that he willingly caused the loss of his property, and when a person willingly forfeits his property, we are not required to return it.

ט

וְהַקַּרְקָעוֹת מִי שֶׁהִנִּיחוּ שָׁכֵן אֵין לוֹקְחִין מִמֶּנּוּ שָׂכָר. וְשָׂדֶה אוֹ כֶּרֶם שֶׁהָיָה בָּהֶן אָרִיס יִשָּׁאֲרוּ כְּמוֹ שֶׁהִנִּיחוֹ עַד שֶׁיָּבוֹא. וְשָׂדֶה אוֹ כֶּרֶם שֶׁהִנִּיחָם בּוּרִים יִשָּׁאֲרוּ בּוּרִים שֶׁהֲרֵי הוּא בִּרְצוֹנוֹ אִבֵּד מָמוֹנוֹ וַאֲבֵדָה לְדַעַת אֵין אָנוּ מְצֻוִּין לְהַחְזִירָהּ:

10

If we hear a report that the person who had left voluntarily died, the court collects all the movable property belonging to him and entrusts it to a person whom they consider faithful. They give the fields and vineyards to a relative to care for as a sharecropper, until the heirs bring clear proof that the owner died or until the owner comes.

י

שָׁמְעוּ בּוֹ שֶׁמֵּת הֲרֵי בֵּית דִּין מוֹצִיאִין כָּל הַמִּטַּלְטְלִין וּמַנִּיחִין אוֹתָן אֵצֶל נֶאֱמָן עַל פִּיהֶן וּמוֹרִידִין הַקָּרוֹב לַשָּׂדוֹת וְלַכְּרָמִים בָּהֶן כְּאָרִיס עַד שֶׁיָּבִיא רְאָיָה בְּרוּרָה שֶׁמֵּת אוֹ עַד שֶׁיָּבוֹא:

Nachalot - Chapter 8

1

When the fields of a person who was taken captive, or who fled, or who left voluntarily but was reported to have died are given to a relative in a share-cropping arrangement, we do not entrust them to a minor, lest he ruin the property.

Conversely, we do not give a minor's property to a relative in a share-cropping arrangement. This is a safeguard, lest that person claim that the property belongs to him, that it is his portion that he received through inheritance. The minor's property is not even given to a relative of a relative.

What is implied? There were two brothers, one older and one younger, and the younger was taken captive or fled, we do not give the younger brother's field to the older brother. For the younger brother will not be able to protest. Perhaps the older brother will take possession of the property and after many years, he will claim: "This is my portion that I received through inheritance; I took possession as an inheritance."

Even the son of the brother of the minor who was taken captive is not given the property in a share-cropping agreement, lest he claim: "I inherited this portion because of my father."

א

כְּשֶׁמּוֹרִידִין קָרוֹב לְנִכְסֵי הַשָּׁבוּי אוֹ בּוֹרֵחַ אוֹ לְנִכְסֵי הַיּוֹצֵא לְדַעַת שֶׁשָּׁמְעוּ בּוֹ שֶׁמֵּת. לֹא יוֹרִידוּ קָטָן שֶׁמָּא יַפְסִיד הַנְּכָסִים. וְאֵין מוֹרִידִין קָרוֹב לְנִכְסֵי קָטָן שֶׁמָּא יִטְעֹן וְיֹאמַר זֶה חֶלְקִי הַמַּגִּיעַ לִי בִּירֻשָּׁתִי. וַאֲפִלּוּ קָרוֹב מֵחֲמַת קָרוֹב אֵין מוֹרִידִין. כֵּיצַד. הָיוּ שְׁנֵי אַחִים אֶחָד גָּדוֹל וְאֶחָד קָטָן וְנִשְׁבָּה הַקָּטָן אוֹ בָּרַח. אֵין מוֹרִידִין הַגָּדוֹל לְתוֹךְ שָׂדֵהוּ מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהַקָּטָן אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לִמְחוֹת. וְשֶׁמָּא יַחֲזִיק זֶה הָאָח וּלְאַחַר שָׁנִים יֹאמַר זֶה חֶלְקִי שֶׁהִגִּיעַ לִי בִּירֻשָּׁתִי וּמֵחֲמַת יְרוּשָׁה בָּאתִי. וַאֲפִלּוּ בֶּן אָחִיו שֶׁל זֶה הַקָּטָן הַנִּשְׁבָּה אֵין מוֹרִידִין אוֹתוֹ לִנְכָסָיו שֶׁמָּא יֹאמַר שֶׁמֵּחֲמַת אָבִי יָרַשְׁתִּי חֵלֶק זֶה:

2

No relative is ever given possession of the property of a minor, not even a person whose family connection stems from one's maternal brother, who is not fit to inherit. This is an extra safeguard.

Even if there is a document recording the division of the estate, whether homes or courtyards, the property should not be given to the relative. Even if the relative states: "Write a document stating that I received the field as part of a sharecropping agreement," he should not be given the field. Perhaps the documents will be lost, and after a long period the person will claim that he received it as an inheritance, or that he received it as an inheritance from a relative who received it as an inheritance.

An incident once occurred concerning an old woman who had three daughters. The old woman and one daughter were taken captive. A second daughter died and left a son below the age of majority. The Sages said: We do not give the property to the remaining daughter in a sharecropping agreement, for perhaps the elderly woman died and thus one third of the estate would belong to the minor, and we do not give a relative property belonging to a minor. Similarly, we do not give the property to the minor. For perhaps the old woman is still alive, and the property of a person taken captive should not be given to a minor.

"What should be done instead? Since a guardian must be appointed for the half designated for the minor, we appoint a guardian for the old woman's entire estate."

Afterwards, it was reported that the older woman died. Our Sages said: "The remaining daughter should receive the third that is her portion of the inheritance. The minor should receive the third that is his portion of the older woman's estate. And a guardian should be appointed for the third that belongs to the daughter in captivity, because of the portion of it that the minor might receive. For if the daughter in captivity also dies, the minor would receive one half of her third." Similar principles apply in all analogous situations.

ב

לְעוֹלָם אֵין מוֹרִידִין קָרוֹב לְנִכְסֵי קָטָן אֲפִלּוּ קָרוֹב מֵחֲמַת אֲחֵי הַאֵם שֶׁאֵינָן רְאוּיִין לִירַשׁ. הַרְחָקָה יְתֵרָה הִיא זוֹ וַאֲפִלּוּ יֵשׁ בֵּינֵיהֶן שְׁטַר חֲלוּקָה בֵּין בְּבָתִּים בֵּין בְּשָׂדוֹת לֹא יֵרֵד. וַאֲפִלּוּ אָמַר כִּתְבוּ עָלַי שְׁטַר אֲרִיסוּת לֹא יֵרֵד שֶׁמָּא יֹאבְדוּ הַשְּׁטָרוֹת וְיַאַרְכוּ הַיָּמִים וְיִטְעֹן וְיֹאמַר שֶׁזֶּה חֵלֶק יְרֻשָּׁה בָּא לוֹ (מֵחֲמָתוֹ אוֹ) מֵחֲמַת מוֹרִישָׁיו. מַעֲשֶׂה בְּאִשָּׁה אַחַת שֶׁהָיוּ לָהּ שָׁלֹשׁ בָּנוֹת וְנִשְׁבֵּית הַזְּקֵנָה הִיא וּבַת אַחַת וּמֵתָה בַּת שְׁנִיָּה וְהִנִּיחָה בֵּן קָטָן. וְאָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים אֵין מוֹרִידִין זוֹ הַבַּת הַנִּשְׁאָרָה לַנְּכָסִים שֶׁמָּא מֵתָה הַזְּקֵנָה וְנִמְצְאוּ שְׁלִישׁ נְכָסִים אֵלּוּ לַקָּטָן וְאֵין מוֹרִידִין קָרוֹב לְנִכְסֵי קָטָן. וְכֵן אֵין מוֹרִידִין לְזֶה הַקָּטָן בַּנְּכָסִים שֶׁמָּא עֲדַיִן הַזְּקֵנָה בַּחַיִּים וְאֵין מוֹרִידִין קָטָן לְנִכְסֵי שָׁבוּי. אֶלָּא כֵּיצַד עוֹשִׂין. מִתּוֹךְ שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לְהַעֲמִיד אַפּוֹטְרוֹפּוֹס לַחֲצִי שֶׁל קָטָן מַעֲמִידִין אַפּוֹטְרוֹפּוֹס עַל כָּל נִכְסֵי הַזְּקֵנָה. אַחַר זְמַן שָׁמְעוּ שֶׁמֵּתָה הַזְּקֵנָה אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים תֵּרֵד הַבַּת הַנִּשְׁאָרָה לִשְׁלִישׁ הַנְּכָסִים שֶׁהוּא חֵלֶק יְרֻשָּׁתָהּ וְיֵרֵד הַקָּטָן לִשְׁלִישׁ שֶׁהוּא חֶלְקוֹ מִנִּכְסֵי הַזְּקֵנָה. וְהַשְּׁלִישׁ שֶׁל בַּת הַשְּׁבוּיָה מַעֲמִידִין לוֹ אַפּוֹטְרוֹפּוֹס מִפְּנֵי חֵלֶק הַקָּטָן שֶׁמָּא מֵתָה גַּם הַבַּת הַשְּׁבוּיָה וְיֵשׁ לְזֶה הַקָּטָן חֲצִי הַשְּׁלִישׁ שֶׁלָּהּ. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה:

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The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
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