Shabbat Parashat Toldot| 5764
Intra-familial Obligations - Part V - Obligations of Inheriting Sons to their Sisters(II)
We saw last week that inheriting sons must support their sisters until the time that they get married or should have done so. As the sisters get married, another obligation, of an unusual nature, usually crops up. This obligation, known as isur nechasim, relates to the sisters’ dowry.
We have seen in past weeks that a father is not required to provide a dowry for his daughters but is encouraged and expected to do so. When the father dies, who will provide a dowry for them to help facilitate their marriages? Chazal obligated their brothers, who inherited the property of their father. But how can you obligate the brothers if even the father was not obligated?
Chazal understood that the father would be more likely to respond positively to his daughters’ needs if he did so willingly and not by force. However, orphan brothers are more likely to tell their sisters that they need the money for their own needs and leave them without resources for marriage. Therefore, Chazal obligated them. However, since the nature of the obligation is to step in in the absence of the father, the rule is that they contribute only as much as the father would have. Beit din appraises the estate that the father left and interviews those who knew the father to determine how much the father would likely have given if he were alive (Shulchan Aruch, Evem Haezer 113:1). If beit din cannot determine the expectation of the father’s contribution, they revert to the average amount, which is 10% of the father’s property (thus, the name isur nechasim).
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