Shabbat Parashat Vayetzei | 5763
Intra-familial Obligations – Part VI- Support for a Widow
While married, a wife receives financial support (mezonot). When the marriage terminates, she is entitled to payment of her ketuba. Does she maintain the right to mezonot at this point?
A divorced woman does not receive alimony per se according to halacha. Rather, she receives the value of the ketuba, or whatever other money the husband agreed to either before, during, or upon termination of the marriage. However, a widow continues to receive mezonot from the estate of her late husband (Even Haezer 93). The idea is that as long as she lives as the widow of the deceased, she is entitled to the estate’s financial support. When she remarries (or as her marriage is imminent- see Even Haezer 93:7), she loses that status and the mezonot, but she can then ask for her ketuba, which is a larger, but one-time payment. As long as the widow is supported by the estate, the inheritors have a right, as compensation, to receive any salary she earns, and she is obligated to continue with the household obligations which are appropriate for a widow, as opposed to a wife. She decides whether she prefers to keep her salary and financial independence or to receive the mezonot, similar to the situation between husband and wife (Shulchan Aruch, ibid. 95:2). Regarding husband and wife, there are two opinions on whether the wife can demand to stop the normal arrangement and later decide to revert back to it, or whether her decision is final (Rama 69:4) . The same opinions should apply here as well.
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