By Chaim Raymon
On Tuesday, July 4, several hundred men filled the lunchroom at Yeshiva Bais Hillel (YBH) in Passaic to hear a shiur in Hilchos Nachalah (Inheritance) from renowned Poseik HaRav Moshe Heinemann shlita, morah d’asrah, Agudath Yisrael of Baltimore. Mr. Robert Teichman Esq., a specialist in estate law, joined in the presentation. The shiur was sponsored by the Daf Yomi Commission of Agudath Yisrael of America, in conjunction with the Passaic Clifton Community Kollel.
This was a synergistic partnership between two organizations who share the goal of spreading Torah knowledge amongst the Jewish people. Daf Yomi recently completed learning the sugyos or topics related to Jewish inheritance. Since Hilchos Nachalah are generally not well known, the time seemed ripe for the Daf Yomi Commission of Agudath Yisrael to sponsor the shiur. Passaic, New Jersey, a large frum community with a strong contingent of Daf Yomi learners, was an ideal location for the event. The Passaic Clifton Community Kollel, under the indefatigable leadership of Rabbi Chaim Krause, was an excellent local partner. And who was more fitting to present the topic than HaRav Moshe Heinemann, talmid muvhak of HaRav Aharon Kotler ZT”L and HaRav Moshe Feinstein ZT”L? HaRav Heinemann is one of the senior poskim in this country and possesses a unique ability to explain complex halacha issues in a clear fashion.
Rav Heinemann started out by discussing inyanim (aspects) of inheritance based on the pesukim in the Torah. The Torah teaches that the sons inherit from the father, not the daughters. This is in contradistinction to the yichus, the child’s Jewishness, which is inherited from the mother. He discussed many points about a man’s obligation to his daughters, such as what he must spend to marry them off, what happens if he dies and they are unmarried, and the prevalent minhag.
When one writes a will, he should bear in mind what showing favoritism to Yosef did to the Bnai Yaakov. Therefore it would seem that all sons should receive an equal amount. However, if the children can understand the logic of favoring one son over the others, i.e. a son with special needs or extra medical expenses, then the father can give one son extra.
If one son behaves properly and the other does not, the father should still give them equal amounts. Maybe the lesser son will have a son who is a tzaddik. Rav Moshe Feinstein paskens in the Igros Moshe that this only applies if both sons are Shomrei Mitzvos; if one son went off the derech, then the father is not required to give him anything. Nevertheless, when Rav Heinemann was once asked such a “Shayla,” he responded with a story from a Chassidishe Rebbe. This Rebbe had a son who acted improperly, yet the Rebbe was still mekareiv him. The other children asked the Rebbe why he does that. The Rebbe answered that, after 120, when he gets up to Shomayim and faces his Final Judgement, he will be able to proclaim “I’m not worthy of your rachmonus, but, neither was my son. Yet, I had rachmonus on him anyway.”
Rav Heinemann, in his trademark fashion, eloquently discussed complicated halachos about what the almanah should receive, how yerusha works with an LLC, and many scenarios in which a bechor (firstborn son) does not get double, etc. He mesmerized the audience with stories about his interactions with gedolim dealing with these issues. Most importantly, he emphasized the need to do everything b’sholom and not to use Torah law as a spade to dig money out of the hands of relatives.
The program concluded with Mr. Robert Teichman, Esq. explaining how to set up an inheritance according to halachic standards. He especially emphasized the need for everyone to set up a will and not leave it up to the state to decide. Then certainly, halacha will not be followed.
Rabbi Eliyahu Simcha Bamberger, Coordinator of the Daf Yomi Commission observed, “It was magnificent to experience the Cheshek to hear the Dvar Hashem from Rav Heinemann that was exhibited by hundreds of Passaic Baalei batim.”