1) A PERSON WHO LEAVES NO SONS TO INHERIT HIM
OPINIONS: Rebbi Yochanan says in the name of Raban Shimon bar Yochai that Hash-m becomes "filled with anger upon" a person who does not leave a son to inherit him. What is the meaning of this statement?
(a) The YAD RAMAH (116a) writes that this occurs only when the person did not attempt to fulfill the Mitzvah of Piryah v'Rivyah. If, however, he did attempt to fulfill the Mitzvah but was unable to do so as a result of circumstances beyond his control, then Hash-m does not become angry with him.
(b) The RASHASH explains that Hash-m becomes angry at a person who has a son but chooses to give all of his possessions as a gift to his daughter so that his son will not inherit them.
(c) The KOVETZ SHI'URIM (#480) explains that when a person has no sons, it is not a reason for Hash-m to become angry him, since it is beyond his control. Rather, when a person has no sons, it is a sign that Hash-m is angry with him for some other reason, and Hash-m therefore has not granted him a son. (I. Alsheich)
2) HAVING NO SONS
QUESTION: Rebbi Yochanan says in the name of Raban Shimon bar Yochai that Hash-m becomes "filled with anger upon" a person who does not leave a son to inherit him. However, the Gemara earlier (116a) relates that Rebbi Yochanan himself would comfort mourners who had lost children by showing them the tooth or bone (see Background to the Daf there) of his tenth son who died. If Rebbi Yochanan maintains that a person who does not leave any sons is subject to Hash-m's anger, then why did he publicize the fact that he himself left no sons? A lack of sons is indicative of wrongdoing (see previous Insight), and, as the Rashbam writes earlier, a person is supposed to be ashamed of his sins and hide them from others, as the verse states, "Praiseworthy is the one who bears his iniquity, who hides his sin" (Tehilim 32:1).
Indeed, the Gemara there already questions Rebbi Yochanan's actions from a different statement of his. The Gemara asks how Rebbi Yochanan could comfort mourners by showing them that he had lost all of his sons, when Rebbi Yochanan himself states that the verse, "Asher Ein Chalifos Lamo..." (Tehilim 55:20), refers to a person who leaves no sons after him. Why, though, does the Gemara there not raise a difficulty from the statement that Rebbi Yochanan quotes here in the name of Raban Shimon bar Yochai? How could Rebbi Yochanan say that Hash-m is filled with anger against a person who leaves no sons to inherit him, when Rebbi Yochanan himself would publicize the fact that he left no sons?
(a) The RASHASH explains, based on his approach to the meaning of Rebbi Yochanan's statement in the name of Raban Shimon bar Yochai (see (b) of previous Insight), that in truth Hash-m does not become angry with someone who has no sons at all. He becomes angry only with a person who has sons and redirects his inheritance away from them by giving his property as a gift to other people. Accordingly, there is no contradiction in the actions and statements of Rebbi Yochanan.
(b) The RAMBAN (116a) writes that the Gemara earlier resolves its question with the explanation that "this statement is his, and the other statement is his teacher's." That is, when Rebbi Yochanan applied the verse, "Asher Ein Chalifos Lamo," to a person who leaves no sons, he was expressing his teacher's statement; he, personally, did not agree with that explanation of the verse. Accordingly, the statement that Rebbi Yochanan quotes here in the name of Raban Shimon bar Yochai might also be merely his teacher's opinion, while Rebbi Yochanan himself does not agree. (I. Alsheich)
3) DAUGHTERS ARE PREFERABLE
OPINIONS: The Gemara discusses why a man would prefer a daughter over a son, as the Mishnah (140b) implies. The Gemara suggests that the Mishnah refers to a woman who gives birth to her first child, and it is in accordance with the view of Rav Chisda who says that having a daughter as the first child is a "Siman Tov," a "good sign," for sons (the Gemara goes on to explain why that is so). Rav Chisda adds, "And to me, daughters are preferable over sons."
Why did Rav Chisda personally prefer daughters over sons?
(a) The RASHBAM explains first that Rav Chisda was referring to the first child born to him, consistent with Rav Chisda's own statement that a daughter born first is a good sign. However, the Rashbam immediately rejects this explanation, because Rav Chisda's wording does not imply that he is referring here only to his firstborn child. Instead, the Rashbam explains that none of Rav Chisda's sons survived, and therefore he cherished his daughters. The Rashbam concludes, however, that he is not satisfied with this explanation of Rav Chisda's statement.
(b) TOSFOS also questions the Rashbam's explanation, as the Gemara records that Rav Chisda had many sons, and there is no mention that they died before he died. Among his sons mentioned throughout the Gemara are Rav Nachman bar Rav Chisda, Mar Yenuka and Mar Keshisha, Rav Chanan bar Rav Chisda, Rav Mari, and Rav Pinchas. Tosfos therefore explains that Rav Chisda said that daughters are preferable to him because even though his sons were great Amora'im, his sons-in-law, the husbands of his daughters, were the Gedolei ha'Dor -- Rava, Rami bar Chama, and Mar Ukva bar Chama (as mentioned in Bava Basra 12b and Berachos 44a).
RAV YAKOV EMDEN gives a similar explanation to that of Tosfos, but he adds that at the time that Rav Chisda made this statement, his daughters may have been married already to the Gedolei ha'Dor, while his sons were still young and he did not know yet whether they would achieve such greatness. He also adds that the daughters of Rav Chisda certainly were great and wise women in their own right, as the Gemara in Berachos (56a) implies. The Gemara there relates that Rava told Bar Hedya, the interpreter of dreams, that he could forgive Bar Hedya for all of the hardships that he had caused him except for the death of his wife, the daughter of Rav Chisda.
Rav Yakov Emden writes further (as printed in the new Wagshal edition of the Gemara) that Rav Chisda's sons-in-law were also his students, and thus he considered them to be like his own sons. Therefore, he said that his daughters were preferable to him, because not only were their husbands the Gedolei ha'Dor, but their husbands were like sons to him, since they were his students as well.
(c) REBBI TZADOK HA'KOHEN (in Divrei Sofrim) writes that Rav Chisda already had seven sons who were Talmidei Chachamim, but he did not yet have one daughter. Therefore, he prayed to Hash-m to have a daughter so that he could properly fulfill the Mitzvah of Piryah v'Rivyah, and he prayed for additional daughters because daughters bring propagation to the world (as the Gemara says earlier on 16b; see Insights there). (I. Alsheich)
4) WHEN A GIFT OF A "SHECHIV MERA" DOES NOT TAKE EFFECT
QUESTION: The Gemara relates an incident in which a man said to his pregnant wife, "My property is hereby given to the fetus you are carrying." Rav Huna ruled that the gift was invalid because a fetus cannot acquire property (since it is not considered to have come into the world yet).
It is clear from the continuation of the Gemara that the case under discussion is a case of a gift given by a Shechiv Mera, a dying man. Even though the instructions of a Shechiv Mera are binding as if they are written in a Shtar, here the Shechiv Mera's gift does not take effect. TOSFOS points out that even if a healthy man attempts to grant ownership to a fetus and performs a Kinyan to commit himself to give the gift, the gift does not take effect.
Why, though, does the gift of a Shechiv Mera not take effect in this case? The Gemara later (148a) says that a Shechiv Mera's gift takes effect even in a case in which a healthy person cannot give a gift even if he performs a Kinyan. The Gemara there discusses a case of a person who wants to transfer ownership of a debt to another person. The Gemara states that if a Shechiv Mera gives a debt (that is, the right to collect it from the debtor) to another person, the recipient acquires it, even though a healthy person cannot transfer a debt to someone else even if he makes a Kinyan. (A debt is an intangible entity which cannot be transferred to a different owner; the ownership of a debt can be transferred only when it is written in a Shtar and the Shtar is given to the recipient, or when the debt is transferred through the rabbinical instrument of "Ma'amad Sheloshtan"). The Gemara here, however, says that because a healthy person cannot transfer the ownership of a gift to an unborn fetus even with a Kinyan, a Shechiv Mera also cannot transfer the ownership through the enactment of Matnas Shechiv Mera. This seems to be in contradiction to the statement of the other Gemara.
TOSFOS writes that the cases are different and cannot be compared, but he does not write why they are different. What is the difference between the case of the Gemara here and the case of the Gemara later (148a)?
ANSWER: The OR SAME'ACH (Hilchos Zechiyah u'Matanah 9:13) writes that in the Gemara later, Rav Papa says that a Shechiv Mera is able to transfer the ownership of a loan "because it is inherited by his heirs." The RASHBAM there explains that the Gemara later (149a) says that the Rabanan made a Matnas Shechiv Mera work like an inheritance, and therefore it can be used to transfer the ownership of a loan, since when a man dies his heirs inherit any loans owed to him.
This added efficacy of a Matnas Shechiv Mera, however, applies only to a case such as a loan. In general, a loan cannot be transferred to another person because the loan itself is not an object whose ownership can be transferred. A loan can be inherited, however, and it therefore can be given to someone else through a Matnas Shechiv Mera. In contrast, when the object itself is subject to acquisition but the recipient of the Kinyan is not fit to acquire it (as in the case here, in which the recipient does not yet exist and thus he cannot be Koneh), the mechanism of Matnas Shechiv Mera cannot make the Kinyan any more effective. The added efficacy of a Matnas Shechiv Mera has no bearing on the fact that the intended recipient cannot inherit or be Koneh the object.
(RAV SHMUEL ROZOVSKY zt'l explains (in SHI'UREI REB SHMUEL, Gitin 14:2, #278) that when the Rabanan enacted that a Matnas Shechiv Mera works like Yerushah, they did not give the recipient the status of a Yoresh. Rather, they decreed that the manner in which the transfer of ownership works would be similar to that of Yerushah. Consequently, when the recipient is able to be Koneh, the Rabanan made the transfer of ownership work like Yerushah, but when the recipient is not able to be Koneh, such as in the case of a fetus, the fetus cannot acquire the object because a fetus cannot be Koneh anything, regardless of the way the transfer of ownership works.) (See SHI'UREI REB SHMUEL there for an alternative approach.) (I. Alsheich)