4) How much does the daughter actually receive?

The standard text of the Shtar Chatzi Zochor states that the daughter should receive the equivalent of “A half-share of a standard son.” This expression was used because if there are several sons, the eldest is entitled to a double portion, and the Shtar Chatzi Zochor awards the daughter only a half-portion of other sons. If, for example, a man left two sons and a daughter, the estate would be divided into seven. The younger son would get two portions, the firstborn son would get four portions (double the younger son) and the daughter would receive one portion – a half of that which the younger son receives.

What if the man leaves only a firstborn son and one daughter?

The Shvus Yaakov[27] quotes a certain Dayan as ruling that the daughter is given a third of the estate, in order that she receives half of that which her brother receives. However, he also quotes several dayanim as disagreeing with this, and the Shvus Yaakov himself concurs with them. If the daughter had been awarded a portion equivalent to the son, she would surely only get a third of the estate, with the firstborn getting two thirds, because she cannot be any better than another son who would have got only a third with two thirds going to the firstborn. If so, it would seem that where she has been promised a half-portion of a regular son, she would be given a fifth of the estate, with the firstborn receiving four fifths – two fifths as a regular son and the extra two fifths because he is a firstborn.

The Shvus Yaakov adds that this is undoubtedly the correct way to distribute the estate in such a case, and the only reason it is not found in the earlier authorities is because it is so obvious that they felt no need to discuss it.

However, it would seem from the Haflo’oh that he disagrees. In a case where a man instructed to give his widow a portion from his estate equivalent to his son, the Haflo’oh[28] quotes the Mordechai as ruling that this would mean that she gets the equivalent of an ordinary son, and he goes on to say that if he left only one son, she would receive half of the estate. It follows that had he instructed to give a half-portion (as in the case of a Shtar Chatzi Zochor) she would receive a third, just like the first opinion quoted in the Shvus Yaakov. In other words, if a man leaves only one son, he is not considered to have the advantages of a firstborn as far as inheritance is concerned, even if part of the estate goes to another person.

The Haflo’oh adds an interesting point. If, for example the man left twelve gold coins (and he left instructions to give his widow a full portion equivalent to a son), the son would receive half and the widow half, i.e. six coins each. If an extra son were to be born, the firstborn would now actually gain, because in order to determine the extra portion due him as a firstborn, we would consider only those who are due to inherit min haTorah, i.e. him and his brother. Thus the extra portion would be four coins. The remaining eight coins would be divided between the three, the firstborn, the other son and the widow, with each receiving two and two thirds. Thus the oldest son would now end up with six and two thirds!

It is evident, then that the Haflo’oh disagrees with the Shvus Yaakov on two accounts. Firstly, when no son other than the firstborn exists, the Shvus Yaakov holds that we still consider this son to have the advantages of a firstborn, and this is taken into account when dividing the estate between him and anyone else added by his father, whereas the Haflo’oh holds that in the absence of any other children the firstborn is to be considered like an ordinary child.

Secondly, when there is another child present, when calculating the extra portion awarded to a firstborn, the Haflo’oh takes into account only those who inherit this man min haTorah, whereas the Shvus Yaakov includes for the sake of this calculation all the parties who will receive a portion in this man’s estate, and the firstborn’s extra portion will thus be reduced accordingly.[29]

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