Shabbat Parashat Vayigash| 5763
Intra-familial Obligations - Part X - Burial
The final obligation of the husband to his wife that we will discuss in this series is that of burial. (A wife is not obligated to pay for the funeral of her late husband. The expense is taken from the estate, even if the deceased left instructions that it should not (Ketubot 48a). Of course, if the wife controls her late husband’s bank accounts (personal or joint), as she usually does, then she should see to it that the proper funds are spent from that money toward a respectable funeral).
The basic rule in determining the level of expense the husband should incur to ensure a dignified funeral is that it should be at least according to local practice. An interesting machloket on this point is found in the gemara (Ketubot 46b, 48a). When there are conflicting standards of living between the husband’s and the wife’s families, we generally say, “olah imo v’eina yoredet imo,” she goes up [in level] with him but she does not go down with him. In other words, she gets the higher of the two standards, that of his family or hers.
However, in regard to the standard of the funeral there is a conflicting opinion that states that the standards of her family are used, even if those of his family are higher. The gemara suggeststhat the rule of elevating standards may only apply during one’s lifetime. Why? It is possible that the basic law should only have assured that her standards are preserved. However, since the wife is living among his relatives, it is embarrassing to her that she has less than her in-laws. It is possible to claim that in questions of after death, the psychological considerations no longer play a role. (In any case, we rule that the higher standards are indeed used- Even Haezer 89:1)
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