July 13, 2024
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July 13, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

May these words of Torah serve as a merit le’iluy nishmat Menachem Mendel ben Harav Yoel David Balk, a”h.

 

This week we learned Bava Batra 130. These are some highlights.

Can a father who is a chazan choose to transfer his position to his younger son?

Our chapter deals with the Torah’s laws of inheritance. In addition to inheriting possessions, our Torah entitles a son to inherit his father’s religious position. This is derived from the law of king. The firstborn of a king inherits his position. From this we learn that the same holds true for any communal position. Rambam (Hilchot Melachim 1:7) writes, “And not only royalty, but all appointments and positions of authority in Israel are a matter that gets inherited by the son and the grandson and all the future generations.” This law of inheritance is very powerful. Some felt it even applied when the son was a child at the time of his father’s passing and unable to immediately assume the position of leadership. Shu”t Ginat Veradim (Chelek Aleph YD Kelal 3: 7-8) dealt with questions of heirs to holy positions. There was a man who was righteous and served the community in multiple roles. He was in charge of the burial society and he was in charge of a charitable group. When he passed away, there were those who wished to grant those positions to his son, who was also a righteous man. Other protested. They argued that there was no honor in these positions. They claimed that the father was only entitled to the second position for a limited period of time. They did not feel that the son should be entitled to the role. The Ginat Veradim rejected the protesters. He pointed out that Rambam rules that if the father leaves over a righteous son who can fill the shoes of his father, the son is to inherit the position. Any holy position enables its holder to fulfill mitzvot. It is impossible to quantify the value in fulfilling Divine commands. Even if it was a limited term, the son should inherit the term and continue to fulfill it. Ginat Veradim quoted a story that he heard. Rav Shlomo Alkabetz did not allow Rav Moshe Alshich to assume a position of rav in the community of Rav Avraham Shalem, even after the community had all agreed that they wanted him to lead them. There was a son, who was under bar mitzvah at the time. Rav Alkabetz made them hold the position for the young boy. Once he became bar mitzvah, they made him the rav.

Our Gemara teaches the law of Rabbi Yochanan Ben Beroka. Halacha is in accordance with the view of Rabbi Yochanan ben Beroka. He taught that if there were multiple sons, the father could allocate to one child more possessions than he would have received under the Torah’s rules. The father can not touch the share of the firstborn; however, he can increase the allocation of one heir more than he would have otherwise received. Can this rule be applied to the inheritance of a Jewish communal position? If a father had multiple sons, can he command that a younger son get the position and not the firstborn?

Minchat Chinuch (Mitzvah 497) explains the two points of view on this question. Our Gemara teaches that even according to Rabbi Yochanan ben Beroka a father cannot allocate his wealth to his daughter as inheritance when he has sons. If there are sons, the daughter does not have the title “yoresh,” heir. A father can choose to give more wealth to one heir over the others, but he cannot bequeath his fortune to one who is not an heir. In the case of a position of importance, there is only one son who can get the position. If the oldest is the one who is most entitled, perhaps that renders the others as non-yorshim. Since the others did not have the title “heir,” the father cannot choose to grant the position to them. Alternatively, perhaps since the other sons will receive assets from their father, they are considered heirs even in regard to the position of authority. The father, therefore, can choose to grant the position to the younger son.

Minchat Chinuch sought to resolve this question from King Shlomo. King David granted the position of king to his son Shlomo, who was not the oldest at the time. There was a son, Kilav, who was older. Kilav was also a great tzadik and scholar. The fact that King David granted the kingdom to Shlomo should prove that a father can choose to grant his position of authority to a younger child. However, Minchat Chinuch rejects this proof. There was a prophet who told King David to appoint King Shlomo. Perhaps, only when the Almighty explicitly instructs a father can he switch the position from the eldest child to another.

Maharsham (Shu”t Chelek Bet Siman 176) dealt with a cantor. The father wished to grant the position of prayer leader to a younger son. Maharsham ruled that he could do so. He proved this from King Rechavam. Rechavam appointed his son Aviyah to be king after him, even though there were other sons who were older. Apparently, even in regard to a position of prestige, a father can choose to grant the role to a younger son even though there are older sons.

By Rabbi Zev Reichman
(Mesivta)

Rabbi Zev Reichman teaches Daf Yomi in his shul, East Hill Synagogue.

 

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