Friday, January 29, 2010

What Is Included In Mezonos?

When a man dies and is survived by sons and daughters, there is a system in place to ensure that the daughters (who don’t inherit when there are sons) are supported. The Mishna has two scenarios; a) the inheritance is a large amount - there is enough money to support all the children until they reach maturity (12 and a half years for a girl and 13 years for a boy) or until the daughters get engaged (whichever is first); b) the inheritance is a small amount - the money is insufficient to support all the children until maturity.

In the first scenario, the sons inherit and support their sisters. In the second scenario, the daughters get supported from the inheritance, and the sons go begging from the community.

Shulchan Aruch (Even Ha’ezer Siman 112 Seif 11) explains that this is only when there is no money left over after supporting the daughters; however, even in the second scenario, if there is money left over after the daughters are supported, then, that goes to the sons.

The question that needs to be addressed is: What constitutes support? The Mishna uses the term “mezonos,” which usually translates as food. Is this the meaning here as well? What about clothing? How about a place to live?

The Shulchan Aruch (Even Ha’ezer Siman 112 Seif 6) rules that the daughter gets food, clothing and a place to live. This is the opinion of the Tur and the Rambam (Hil. Ishus Perek 19 Hal. 11).

The Rashbam on our Mishna defines mezonos as food and parnasas nisu’in - money for her marriage needs.

Tosfos argues that the term mezonos and parnasah are two separate categories. The former refers to food and drink, and the latter to clothing and marriage needs.

It is interesting to note that according to Tosfos, the daughters would only get food, and not clothing, not like the Rambam and Tur who rule that they get both.

The Chelkas Mechokek rules that the daughters get food, clothing and a place to live; however, they don’t get money towards their marriage needs.