1) PROVIDING SUPPORT FOR THE WIDOW WHEN SHE LEAVES HIS HOME
QUESTION: The Mishnah teaches that a man's widow may remain in her late husband's home and receive support from his property until she remarries. This entitlement is a Tenai Beis Din and does not depend on whether or not he accepted upon himself this obligation. If the widow chooses to live on her own, the man's heirs are not obligated to provide her with support. The Gemara explains that the reason for this is that while she remains in her husband's home, "Birkas ha'Bayis b'Rubah," the more people in the house, the greater the productivity and blessing (see following Insight), and thus when she leaves the house she forfeits the right to receive support.
The Gemara concludes that when the widow chooses to live elsewhere, the heirs are not absolved from the entire sum of the Mezonos. They remain obligated to give her the amount less the loss due to the reduced blessing to the smaller household.
What is the difference between the case of the Mishnah here and the case of the previous Mishnah (101b)? In the case of the previous Mishnah, a man obligated himself to support his wife's daughter, and then he divorced his wife and she remarried. The Mishnah states that he is obligated to bring Mezonos to wherever her mother lives. The Mishnah there, which rejects the man's claim that "when she comes to live with me I will support her," implies that he must provide the complete amount of Mezonos and may not deduct the loss of Birkas ha'Bayis.
(a) The RAN answers that in the Mishnah here, the condition in the Kesuvah (the Tenai Beis Din) which obligates the husband's estate to provide for his wife after his death reads, "You will dwell in my home and be supported from my property." His estate's obligation is limited to the amount that it would cost to support his widow while she dwells in his home. If she leaves his home, his household is obligate to provide her only an amount adjusted for the loss of the Birkas ha'Bayis.
In contrast, in the case of the previous Mishnah the man accepted upon himself "to support her" and did not specify where he would support her. Consequently, he must provide her with her needs wherever she is.
(b) The TOSFOS YOM TOV is not satisfied with this answer. He argues that if the words of the Tenai Beis Din are to be understood so literally, then the heirs should be absolved completely when the widow does not live with them; the condition which states, "You will dwell in my home and be supported from my property," should exempt the heirs entirely when the widow chooses to live elsewhere.
The Tosfos Yom Tov instead explains that in the case of the Mishnah here, it is Beis Din that obligates the heirs to support their father's widow. Beis Din decreed that if she is not living in their home, they may reduce the amount that they give to her. In the case of the previous Mishnah, the man's obligation to support his wife's daughter originates not with Beis Din but with his own words. Since he did not stipulate that he will not support her daughter if she no longer lives in his house, he is obligated by his original words to provide her with the full amount of support.
(c) The BEIS AHARON points out that RASHI here interprets the previous Mishnah differently. According to Rashi's understanding of the earlier case, the man's step-daughter also does not receive the full amount of Mezonos when she is not living in his house. Rashi explains that when the Mishnah there says that the husband's demand that "when she comes to live with me I will support her" is not accepted, it means that he may not say that "only while I am still married to the mother will I support the daughter." That is, he wants to absolve himself completely from his obligation of Mezonos. The Mishnah rejects his demand, and he is obligated to support the daughter even though he is no longer married to her mother. The question of Birkas ha'Bayis is not discussed in that Mishnah. Accordingly, she receives only what it would have cost him to support her in his home. (Mordechai Zvi Dicker)
2) WHAT IS "BIRKAS HA'BAYIS"?
OPINIONS: The Gemara concludes that when a widow leaves the home of her deceased husband, his heirs are obligated to give her only the amount of support that it would have cost them had she remained together with them in their home, because "Birkas ha'Bayis b'Rubah," the more people in the house, the greater the productivity and blessing.
Why does it cost the heirs less to support the widow when she lives with them? After all, she does not eat any less because she is in their home.
(a) RASHI (DH Birkas ha'Bayis) explains that "Birkas ha'Bayis b'Rubah" refers to the general state of the economy of the household. It does not refer to the actual cost of the food itself. When more people are present in the household, they help each other and thus are more productive, and their combined "Mazal" is greater. When the widow leaves the house, the heirs may subtract from the Mezonos which they owe the loss which the household suffers as a result of her departure. (Obviously, there is no simple formula to determine this amount. Moreover, TOSFOS in Bava Basra (144b, DH Birkas) asks that since the "Mazal" of each year is different, it is actually impossible to determine this value.)
(b) TOSFOS here cites RABEINU CHANANEL who explains that when the widow lives in the same house as her husband's children, the various "overhead" costs of living are shared. For example, one lamp suffices for everyone, and no extra fuel or oil for the oven needs to be purchased. (See RAN to Bava Basra 144b.)
(c) Other Rishonim explain that the cost of the food indeed is less in a household with many members, because five people can eat from four portions, because not everyone finishes a whole portion. If she would live alone, she would need a full portion purchased for her. (Mordechai Zvi Dicker)
3) EULOGIES IN THE CITY
QUESTION: The Gemara relates that Rebbi requested that after his death, the eulogies be delivered only in the large cities and not in the small ones. The people initially thought that this request was made to spare the residents of small cities from the trouble of coming to the eulogies. However, when Rebbi died and the people saw how all of the residents of small cities came to the large cities for the eulogies, they understood that the intent behind his request was to provide greater honor ("b'Rov Am") to him.
What does the Gemara mean? How is it possible that Rebbi -- who is referred to as the paradigm of humility (Sotah 49a) -- sought to increase his own honor? (MAHARSHA)
(a) The MAHARSHA answers that Rebbi had no choice but to increase the honor at his funeral, since the eulogies would involve Kavod ha'Torah, the honor of the Torah. Although one may (and should) forgo his own honor, he is not permitted to forgo the honor of the Torah.
(b) The BEIS AHARON explains that when the Gemara says "it was for the sake of honor," it does not mean that it was for the sake of the honor of the deceased. Rather, it was for the sake of the honor of the people who would attend the eulogies.
The Gemara in Sanhedrin (46b) asks whether the purpose of a eulogy is to give honor to the deceased ("Yakra d'Meisei") or to give honor to the living ("Yakra d'Chayei"). "Yakra d'Chayei" means that when people see the great honor afforded to Talmidei Chachamim they will seek to become Talmidei Chachamim themselves. "Yakra d'Meisei" means that when people see the great honor given to the deceased, they will have remorse if they hurt him in any way and they will repent and seek forgiveness. Accordingly, in any case -- whether the eulogies are for "Yakra d'Meisei" or for "Yakra d'Chayei" -- the honor given to the deceased is for the purpose of the people who attend the funeral, and thus Rebbi's request did not conflict with his trait of humility.
(c) The Yerushalmi (Kil'ayim 9:3) gives a different reason for Rebbi's request that his eulogies be delivered only in the large cities. Rebbi's intent was to prevent discord after his death. If there would be many eulogies in many different places, people might argue with each other about where the best eulogy was delivered. By delivering eulogies only in large and central cities, the people in the vicinity would unite and not argue. (Mordechai Zvi Dicker)