TalmuDigest

For the week ending 12 December 2009 / 24 Kislev 5770

Bava Batra 114 - 120

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
  • Till when can one retract on finalizing a gift
  • The inability of a mother to inherit from her son
  • The order of heirs
  • The debate with the Tzedukim re an inheritance law
  • Importance of leaving behind a son
  • Grandfather's precedence as heir
  • The three portions inherited by Tzelofchad's daughters
  • How inheritance of Eretz Yisrael was determined
  • Danger of the "evil eye"
  • Who inherited the portion of Eretz Yisrael denied to the meraglim spies and other sinners
  • The Shabbat violator in the wilderness and his punishment
  • How Tzelofchad's daughters presented their appeal
  • The special qualities of those women
  • The child-bearing situation of special women
  • Whether one can revoke his pledge to the Sanctuary

The Daughters of Tzelofchad

  • Bava Batra 119b

The "heroines" of the Torah chapter regarding inheritance are the five daughters of Tzelofchad who initiated the revelation of these laws through their request for a portion in Eretz Yisrael as heirs of their deceased father.

Their righteousness was expressed in the fact that they were so intent on marrying only a suitable mate that none of them became a wife before the age of forty.

Tosefot points out that their father died at the beginning of the forty-year wandering in the wilderness and they married at the end of that period, thus making the youngest at least forty years old. As proof that Tzelofchad died early, Tosefot cites a midrash that identifies the mysterious public violator of the Shabbat (Bamidbar 15:32-36) who was executed for his sin as Tzelofchad, and explains his well-meaning motive. That incident took place at the very beginning, right after the entire generation was condemned to wander and die in the wilderness for accepting the slander of the meraglim spies. Many Jews felt that since they were not going to enter Eretz Yisrael they were no longer obligated to keep G-d's commands. To demonstrate that this was not so, Tzelofchad sacrificed his life to show that responsibility was still in effect.

What the Sages Say

"In Torah gatherings the precedence in seating is granted to the outstanding scholar but at wedding feasts this honor is given to the very old."

  • Rabbi Ami - Bava Batra 120a

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