Shabbat Parashat Bereshit | 5763
Intra-family Obligations - Introduction
We will spend a few weeks discussing some of the less known monetary obligations within the family. Some of the halachot are not so well known, because they are not fully followed. In some cases, Chazal may not have been so upset that some of their institutions were not being followed for the reason we will presently discuss.
There is ample evidence to prove that Chazal, in instituting obligations within the family, were torn by the following dilemma. Whenever an obligation is forced by law on someone, it is unlikely that the arrangement will work in a satisfactory manner. Can you imagine having to call a lawyer before asking one’s father for a cup of milk?! On the other hand, there are situations, where a person remains unprovided for, that Chazal could not allow to exist. It is sometimes better that there be an obligation on the books to deal with cases of need rather than to hope that people will always be able to work things out themselves without legal intervention.
We can, based on this analysis, break up Torah and rabbinic family financial obligations into the following categories. There are some obligations, which were expected to be followed in all cases. There are other obligations which need to exist, but it is preferable that they not be resorted to, because the family members are usually able to work things out for themselves in a manner which suits their needs. There are still other institutions which provide an average level of obligation, with the hope that people will be educated to follow the rabbinic standard as a guide for their behavior.
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