Introduction to Hilchos Nachalot

It contains one mitzvah: the laws of the order of inheritance. This mitzvah is explained in the following chapters.

רמב"ם הלכות נחלות - הקדמה הלכות נחלות. מצות עשה אחת והיא דין סדר נחלות. וביאור מצוה זו בפרקים אלו.

1

This is the order of inheritance: When a person dies, his children inherit his estate. They receive priority over everyone else, and the sons receive priority over the daughters.

א

סֵדֶר נְחָלוֹת כָּךְ הִיא. מִי שֶׁמֵּת יִירָשׁוּהוּ בָּנָיו וְהֵם קוֹדְמִין לַכּל. וְהַזְּכָרִים קוֹדְמִין לִנְקֵבוֹת:

2

In every situation, a female does not inherit together with a male.

If a person does not have children, his father inherits his estate. A mother does not inherit her son's estate. This has been conveyed by the Oral Tradition.

ב

בְּכָל מָקוֹם אֵין לִנְקֵבָה עִם הַזָּכָר יְרֻשָּׁה. אִם אֵין לוֹ בָּנִים יִירָשֶׁנּוּ אָבִיו. וְאֵין הָאֵם יוֹרֶשֶׁת אֶת בָּנֶיהָ וְדָבָר זֶה מִפִּי הַקַּבָּלָה:

3

With regard to every concept of precedence for an inheritance, a person's blood descendants receive precedence. Therefore, when a person - either a man or a woman - dies and he leaves a son, he inherits everything. If the son is no longer alive, we look to see if the son left descendants. If there are descendants of the son, whether male or female - even the daughter of the daughter of the son's daughter, and this chain can be continued endlessly -that descendant inherits everything.

If the son does not have descendants, we return to the deceased's daughter. If there are descendants of the daughter, whether male or female - and this chain can be continued endlessly - that descendant inherits everything.

If the son does not have descendants, the estate returns to the deceased's father. If the father is no longer alive, -we look to see if the father left descendants - i.e., the brothers of the deceased. If there is a brother of the deceased or the descendant of a brother, he inherits everything. If there are no brothers, we return and look to see if the deceased had a sister. If there is a sister or the descendant of a sister, that person inherits everything.

If there are no descendants of the deceased's brothers or sisters, since there are no descendants of the deceased's father, the estate returns to the deceased's paternal grandfather. If the paternal grandfather is no longer alive, we look to see if the paternal grandfather left descendants - i.e., the uncles or aunts of the deceased. The males receive precedence over the females, and even the descendants of the males receive precedence over the females, as is the law with regard to the descendants of the deceased himself.

If there are no uncles or none of their descendants, the estate returns to the deceased's paternal great-grandfather. Following this pattern, the chain of inheritance continues to extend until Reuven the son of Jacob. Thus the order of inheritance is as follows: A son takes precedence over a daughter. Similarly, all of the son's descendants take precedence over the daughter. The daughter takes precedence over her paternal grandfather, and similarly, all her descendants take precedence over her paternal grandfather.

The deceased's father takes precedence over the deceased's brothers, because they are the father's descendants. The deceased's brothers take precedence over his sisters. Similarly, all their descendants take precedence over the sister.

The deceased's sister takes precedence over her paternal grandfather, and similarly, all her descendants take precedence over her paternal grandfather.

The deceased's paternal grandfather takes precedence over the deceased's uncles. The uncles take precedence over the aunts. Indeed, all the uncles' descendants take precedence over the aunts. The aunts take precedence over the deceased's paternal great-grandfather. Indeed, all the aunts' descendants take precedence over the deceased's paternal great-grandfather. This pattern should be continued until the beginning of all generations. Thus, there is no Jew who does not have heirs.

ג

וְכָל הַקּוֹדֵם בְּנַחֲלָה יוֹצְאֵי יְרֵכוֹ קוֹדְמִין. לְפִיכָךְ מִי שֶׁמֵּת בֵּין אִישׁ בֵּין אִשָּׁה אִם הִנִּיחַ בֵּן יוֹרֵשׁ הַכּל. לֹא נִמְצָא לוֹ בֵּן לְעוֹלָם מְעַיְּנִין בְּזַרְעוֹ שֶׁל בֵּן אִם נִמְצָא לִבְנוֹ זֶרַע בֵּין זְכָרִים בֵּין נְקֵבוֹת אֲפִלּוּ בַּת בַּת בַּת בְּנוֹ עַד סוֹף הָעוֹלָם הִיא תִּירַשׁ אֶת הַכּל. לֹא נִמְצָא לוֹ זֶרַע בֶּן חוֹזְרִין אֵצֶל הַבַּת. הָיְתָה לוֹ בַּת תִּירַשׁ אֶת הַכּל לֹא נִמְצֵאת לוֹ בַּת בָּעוֹלָם מְעַיְּנִין עַל זֶרַע הַבַּת. אִם נִמְצָא לָהּ זֶרַע בֵּין זְכָרִים בֵּין נְקֵבוֹת עַד סוֹף הָעוֹלָם הוּא יוֹרֵשׁ הַכּל. לֹא נִמְצָא לָהּ זֶרַע בַּת חוֹזֵר הַיְרֻשָּׁה לְאָבִיו. לֹא הָיָה אָבִיו קַיָּם מְעַיְּנִין עַל זֶרַע הָאָב שֶׁהֵן אֲחֵי הַמֵּת. נִמְצָא לוֹ אָח אוֹ זֶרַע אָח יוֹרֵשׁ אֶת הַכּל וְאִם לָאו חוֹזְרִין אֵצֶל אָחוֹת. נִמְצֵאת לוֹ אָחוֹת אוֹ זַרְעָהּ יוֹרֵשׁ הַכּל. וְאִם לֹא נִמְצֵאת לוֹ זֶרַע אַחִים וְלֹא זֶרַע אָחוֹת הוֹאִיל וְאֵין לָאָב זֶרַע תַּחְזֹר הַיְרֻשָּׁה לַאֲבִי הָאָב. לֹא הָיָה אֲבִי הָאָב קַיָּם מְעַיְּנִין עַל זֶרַע שֶׁל אֲבִי הָאָב שֶׁהֵן אֲחֵי אָבִיו שֶׁל מֵת וְהַזְּכָרִים קוֹדְמִין לִנְקֵבוֹת וְזַרְעָן שֶׁל זְכָרִים קוֹדְמִין לִנְקֵבוֹת כְּמוֹ שֶׁהָיָה הַדִּין בְּזַרְעוֹ שֶׁל מֵת עַצְמוֹ. לֹא נִמְצְאוּ אַחִים לְאָבִיו לֹא הֵם וְלֹא זַרְעָן תַּחְזֹר הַיְרֻשָּׁה לַאֲבִי הָאָב. וְעַל הַדֶּרֶךְ הַזֹּאת נַחֲלָה מְמַשְׁמֶשֶׁת וְהוֹלֶכֶת עַד רְאוּבֵן. נִמְצֵאתָ אוֹמֵר הַבֵּן קוֹדֵם לַבַּת וְכָל יוֹצְאֵי יְרֵכוֹ שֶׁל בֵּן קוֹדְמִין לַבַּת וְהַבַּת קוֹדֶמֶת לַאֲבִי אָבִיהָ וְכָל יוֹצְאֵי יְרֵכָהּ קוֹדְמִין לַאֲבִי אָבִיהָ. וַאֲבִי הַמֵּת קוֹדֵם לַאֲחֵי הַמֵּת מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהֵם יוֹצְאֵי יְרֵכוֹ וְהָאָח קוֹדֵם לָאָחוֹת. וְכָל יוֹצְאֵי יְרֵכוֹ שֶׁל אָח קוֹדְמִין לָאָחוֹת. וְאָחוֹת קוֹדֶמֶת לַאֲבִי אָבִיהָ. וְכָל יוֹצְאֵי יְרֵכָהּ קוֹדְמִין לַאֲבִי אָבִיהָ. אֲבִי הָאָב קוֹדֵם לַאֲחֵי הָאָב שֶׁל מֵת וַאֲחֵי אָבִיו קוֹדְמִין לַאֲחוֹת אָבִיו וְכָל יוֹצְאֵי יְרֵכוֹ שֶׁל אֲחֵי אָבִיו קוֹדְמִין לַאֲחוֹת אָבִיו וַאֲחוֹת אָבִיו קוֹדֶמֶת לַאֲבִי אֲבִי אָבִיו שֶׁל מֵת. וְכֵן כָּל יוֹצְאֵי יְרֵכָהּ שֶׁל אֲחוֹת אָבִיו קוֹדְמִין לַאֲבִי אֲבִי אָבִיו. וְעַל דֶּרֶךְ זוֹ הוֹלֵךְ וְעוֹלֶה עַד רֹאשׁ הַדּוֹרוֹת. לְפִיכָךְ אֵין לְךָ אָדָם מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁאֵין לוֹ יוֹרְשִׁין:

4

When a person dies and leaves a daughter and the daughter of a son - or even the daughter of the son's daughter and this chain can continue for several generations - the son's daughter takes precedence. She inherits everything; the deceased's daughter does not receive anything.

Similar laws applies when a person is survived by his brother's daughter and his sister, by his uncle's daughter and his aunt, or in all other analogous situations.

ד

מִי שֶׁמֵּת וְהִנִּיחַ בַּת וּבַת הַבֵּן וַאֲפִלּוּ בַּת בַּת בַּת הַבֵּן עַד סוֹף כַּמָּה דּוֹרוֹת הִיא קוֹדֶמֶת וְתִירַשׁ הַכּל וְאֵין לַבַּת כְּלוּם. וְהוּא הַדִּין לְבַת הָאָח עִם הָאָחוֹת וּלְבַת בֶּן אֲחִי אָבִיו עִם אֲחוֹת אָבִיו. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן:

5

A woman is, however, given full rights in the following situation. A person had two sons who died in his lifetime. One of the sons left three sons and the other left a daughter. Afterwards, the elder man died. The three grandsons inherit half of the inheritance and the granddaughter inherits the other half. For each inherits their father's portion. Similar laws apply with regard to the division of an estate among the children of the deceased's brothers, the children of his uncles, or the children of other relatives extending back until the beginning of all generations.

ה

מִי שֶׁהָיוּ לוֹ שְׁנֵי בָּנִים וּמֵתוּ הַשְּׁנֵי בָּנִים בְּחַיָּיו וְהִנִּיחַ הַבֵּן הָאֶחָד שְׁלֹשָׁה בָּנִים וְהִנִּיחַ הַבֵּן הַשֵּׁנִי בַּת אַחַת וְאַחַר כָּךְ מֵת הַזָּקֵן נִמְצְאוּ שְׁלֹשֶׁת בְּנֵי בָּנָיו יוֹרְשִׁין חֲצִי הַנַּחֲלָה וּבַת בְּנוֹ יוֹרֶשֶׁת הַחֵצִי שֶׁכָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד מֵהֶן יוֹרֵשׁ חֵלֶק אָבִיו. וְעַל דֶּרֶךְ זוֹ חוֹלְקִין בְּנֵי הָאַחִים וּבְנֵי אֲחֵי הָאָב עַד רֹאשׁ הַדּוֹרוֹת:

6

With regard to the concept of inheritance, the family of a person's mother is not considered family. Inheritance is relevant only with regard to one's father's family. Therefore, maternal brothers do not inherit each other's estates, while paternal brothers do. This applies to brothers who share only a father or who share both a father and a mother.

ו

מִשְׁפַּחַת הָאֵם אֵינָהּ קְרוּיָה מִשְׁפָּחָה וְאֵין יְרֻשָּׁה אֶלָּא לְמִשְׁפַּחַת הָאָב. לְפִיכָךְ הָאַחִים מִן הָאֵם אֵין יוֹרְשִׁין זֶה אֶת זֶה וְאַחִין מִן הָאָב יוֹרְשִׁין זֶה אֶת זֶה. וְאֶחָד אָחִיו שֶׁהוּא מֵאָבִיו בִּלְבַד אוֹ אָחִיו מֵאָבִיו וּמֵאִמּוֹ:

7

All relatives who were conceived through forbidden relations have equal inheritance rights to those who are conceived through permitted relations.

What is implied? When a person has a son or a brother who is a mamzer, he is treated like any of the other sons or any of the other brothers when it comes to the concept of inheritance. A person's son who is born by a maid-servant or a gentile woman is not considered his son at all, and has no right of inheritance whatsoever.

ז

כָּל הַקְּרוֹבִין בַּעֲבֵרָה יוֹרְשִׁין כִּכְשֵׁרִים. כֵּיצַד. כְּגוֹן שֶׁהָיָה לוֹ בֵּן מַמְזֵר אוֹ אָח מַמְזֵר הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ כִּשְׁאָר בָּנִים וְכִשְׁאָר אַחִים לַנַּחֲלָה. אֲבָל בְּנוֹ מִן הַשִּׁפְחָה אוֹ מִן הַנָּכְרִית אֵינוֹ בֵּן לְדָבָר מִן הַדְּבָרִים וְאֵינוֹ יוֹרֵשׁ כְּלָל:

8

A woman does not inherit her husband's estate at all.

A husband inherits all his wife's property, according to the words of our Sages. He takes precedence over all others with regard to inheriting her estate. This applies even if she is forbidden to him - e.g., a widow who was married to a High Priest, or a divorcee or a woman who had performed chalitzah who was married to an ordinary priest. Similarly, this applies even if the woman was below majority. Even though a husband is a deaf-mute, he inherits his wife's estate.

ח

הָאִשָּׁה אֵינָהּ יוֹרֶשֶׁת בַּעְלָהּ כְּלָל. וְהַבַּעַל יוֹרֵשׁ אֶת כָּל נִכְסֵי אִשְׁתּוֹ מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים. וְהוּא קוֹדֵם לַכּל בִּירֻשָּׁתָהּ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִיא אֲסוּרָה עָלָיו. כְּגוֹן אַלְמָנָה לְכֹהֵן גָּדוֹל גְּרוּשָׁה וַחֲלוּצָה לְכֹהֵן הֶדְיוֹט. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִיא קְטַנָּה וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַבַּעַל חֵרֵשׁ הוּא יוֹרֵשׁ אֶת אִשְׁתּוֹ:

9

We have already explained in Hilchot Ishut that a husband does not inherit his wife's estate until she enters his domain, and that a man who is mentally aware does not inherit the estate of a woman whom he married as a deaf mute. This applies even if she later becomes fully mentally aware.

There we also explained that a husband inherits the property that enters his wife's domain and which she took possession of during her lifetime. This applies to the property she brought to his household as a dowry, and property that she did not bring to his household. When a husband attempted to divorce his wife, although there is a question about the validity of the divorce, her husband does not inherit her estate after her death.

ט

כְּבָר בֵּאַרְנוּ בְּהִלְכוֹת אִישׁוּת שֶׁאֵין הַבַּעַל יוֹרֵשׁ אֶת אִשְׁתּוֹ עַד שֶׁתִּכָּנֵס בִּרְשׁוּתוֹ וְשֶׁאֵין הַפִּקֵּחַ יוֹרֵשׁ אֶת הַחֵרֶשֶׁת שֶׁנִּשֵּׂאת כְּשֶׁהִיא חֵרֶשֶׁת אֲפִלּוּ נִתְפַּקְּחָה. וְשָׁם בֵּאַרְנוּ שֶׁהוּא יוֹרֵשׁ אֶת נִכְסֵי אִשְׁתּוֹ שֶׁבָּאוּ לִירֻשָּׁתָהּ וְהֻחְזְקוּ בֵּין נְכָסִים שֶׁהִכְנִיסָה לוֹ בִּנְדֻנְיָתָהּ בֵּין נְכָסִים שֶׁלֹּא הִכְנִיסָה לוֹ. וּמִי שֶׁנִּתְגָּרְשָׁה סְפֵק גֵּרוּשִׁין וּמֵתָה אֵין הַבַּעַל יוֹרְשָׁהּ:

10

When a man marries a young girl who does not need the right of

to nullify a marriage, he does not inherit her estate, because there is no marriage. Similarly, when a man who was mentally or emotionally unstable married a mentally aware woman, or a mentally aware man married a woman who was mentally or emotionally unstable, the husband does not inherit his wife's estate, for our Sages did not ordain marriage for such individuals.

י

בַּעַל שֶׁנָּשָׂא קְטַנָּה שֶׁאֵינָהּ צְרִיכָה מֵאוּן אֵינוֹ יוֹרְשָׁהּ שֶׁהֲרֵי אֵין כָּאן שׁוּם אִישׁוּת. וְכֵן שׁוֹטֶה שֶׁנָּשָׂא פִּקַּחַת אוֹ פִּקֵּחַ שֶׁנָּשָׂא שׁוֹטָה אֵינוֹ יוֹרְשָׁהּ שֶׁהֲרֵי לֹא תִּקְּנוּ חֲכָמִים לָהֶן נִשּׂוּאִין:

11

When a man's wife died, and afterwards her father, her brother, or any of the other individuals whose estate she may inherit dies, her husband does not inherit their estate. Instead, the estate should be inherited by her descendants, if she has descendants. If not, the right of inheritance should return to the family of her father's home. The rationale is that the husband does not inherit property that is fit to become hers afterwards, only property that she already inherited before she died.

יא

בַּעַל שֶׁמֵּתָה אִשְׁתּוֹ וְאַחַר כָּךְ מֵת אָבִיהָ אוֹ אָחִיהָ אוֹ אֶחָד מִן הַמּוֹרִישִׁין אוֹתָהּ אֵין הַבַּעַל יוֹרֵשׁ אוֹתָן. אֶלָּא יוֹרֵשׁ אוֹתָן זַרְעָהּ אִם הָיָה לָהּ זֶרַע אוֹ תַּחְזֹר הַיְרֻשָּׁה לְמִשְׁפַּחַת בֵּית אָבִיהָ. שֶׁאֵין הַבַּעַל יוֹרֵשׁ נְכָסִים הָרְאוּיִין לָבֹא לְאַחַר מִכָּאן אֶלָּא לַנְּכָסִים שֶׁכְּבָר בָּאוּ לִירֻשָּׁה קֹדֶם שֶׁתָּמוּת:

12

Similarly, a husband does not inherit his wife's estate while he is in the grave as is the ordinary pattern of inheritance for members of his father's family.

What is implied? A man died, and afterwards his wife died. We do not say: Since the husband receives precedence over all others with regard to the inheritance, the husband's heirs should receive precedence over the woman's other heirs. Instead, the woman's heirs from her father's family inherit her estate if she dies after her husband.

יב

וְכֵן אֵין הַבַּעַל יוֹרֵשׁ אֶת אִשְׁתּוֹ וְהוּא בַּקֶּבֶר כִּשְׁאָר הַיּוֹרְשִׁין שֶׁל מִשְׁפַּחַת הָאָב. כֵּיצַד. בַּעַל שֶׁמֵּת וְאַחַר כָּךְ מֵתָה אִשְׁתּוֹ אֵין אוֹמְרִין הוֹאִיל וְהַבַּעַל הָיָה קוֹדֵם לְכָל אָדָם בִּירֻשָּׁתָהּ כָּךְ יוֹרְשֵׁי הַבַּעַל יִקְדְּמוּ לִשְׁאָר יוֹרְשֵׁי הָאִשָּׁה אֶלָּא יוֹרְשֵׁי הָאִשָּׁה מִמִּשְׁפַּחַת בֵּית אָבִיהָ הֵם הַיּוֹרְשִׁים אוֹתָהּ אִם מֵתָה אַחַר בַּעְלָהּ:

13

Similarly, a son does not inherit his mother's estate while he is in the grave, so that the estate will be inherited by his paternal brothers.

What is implied? A person died, and afterwards his mother died. We do not say that if the son were alive, he would take precedence in the inheritance of her estate, and hence, the heirs of the son take precedence over the heirs of this woman. According to the latter conception, the son's paternal brothers would inherit the estate of his mother after her death. This view is not accepted. Instead, if the son has children, they should inherit his mother's estate. If he does not have children, the estate should return to her father's family.

If, however, the mother died first and then the son died, even if he was a newborn baby who was born prematurely, since he survived his mother and then died, he inherits his mother's estate and then transfers the rights to that estate to the family of his father.

יג

וְכֵן אֵין הַבֵּן יוֹרֵשׁ אֶת אִמּוֹ בַּקֶּבֶר כְּדֵי לְהַנְחִיל לְאֶחָיו מֵאָבִיו. כֵּיצַד. מִי שֶׁמֵּת וְאַחַר כָּךְ מֵתָה אִמּוֹ אֵין אוֹמְרִין הוֹאִיל וְאִלּוּ הָיָה הַבֵּן קַיָּם הָיָה קוֹדֵם אַף יוֹרְשִׁין שֶׁל בֶּן קוֹדְמִין לְיוֹרְשֶׁיהָ שֶׁל אִשָּׁה זוֹ וְנִמְצְאוּ אֶחָיו מֵאָבִיו יוֹרְשִׁין אֶת אִמּוֹ שֶׁל זֶה אַחַר מוֹתוֹ שֶׁל זֶה. אֶלָּא זֶרַע בְּנָהּ הוּא שֶׁיִּירָשֶׁנָּה אִם הָיָה לוֹ זֶרַע וְאִם אֵין לוֹ זֶרַע תַּחְזֹר יְרֻשָּׁתָהּ לְמִשְׁפַּחַת בֵּית אָבִיהָ. אֲבָל אִם מֵתָה הָאֵם תְּחִלָּה וְאַחַר כָּךְ מֵת הַבֵּן אֲפִלּוּ הָיָה קָטָן בֶּן יוֹמוֹ וְלֹא כָּלוּ לוֹ חֳדָשָׁיו הוֹאִיל וְחָיָה אַחַר אִמּוֹ שָׁעָה אַחַת וּמֵת הֲרֵי זֶה נוֹחֵל אֶת אִמּוֹ וּמַנְחִיל הַנַּחֲלָה לְיוֹרְשָׁיו מִמִּשְׁפַּחַת אָבִיו: