Ketubot 46 - 52
Bury Me Not!
If a man instructs his children that the funds he bequeaths them not be used for the purpose of burying him, rules Rabbi Masneh, this request must be ignored. The reason -- he has no right to enrich his heirs by imposing himself upon the community's charity fund.
Tosefot (Mesechta Bechorot 42b) cites this gemara in reference to a question raised in Mesechta Sanhedrin (46b). Is the purpose of burial, pondered the Sages, to prevent the indignity of his decomposing corpse being viewed? Or is it to serve as an atonement for the sins of the deceased by subjecting him to subterranean concealment? The practical ramification of this question is how to rule in a case when a man, prior to death, asks that he not be buried. If the purpose is to prevent indignity, he has no right to waive burial, as his unburied corpse will be a source of embarrassment for his family. If, however, the only purpose is atonement, it is his prerogative to waive atonement.
Why, asks Tosefot, does the gemara there not cite the ruling of Rabbi Masneh in our gemara as a proof that one cannot waive burial?
The answer given is that in our case he did not actually waive burial but rather wished to be buried at the expense of the community. In such a situation there is no question that he must be buried, even for the purpose of atonement.
- Ketubot 48a
A Solid Investment
"Wealth and riches shall be in his house," says King David (Tehillim 112:3), "and his righteousness shall endure forever." Who is the unnamed recipient of such a blessing?
One interpretation in our gemara is that this refers to one who studies Torah and teaches it to others.
Maharsha offers a fascinating explanation of the comparison between Torah and material wealth. In regard to wealth, we have been taught by Rabbi Yochanan (Mesechta Taanit 9a) that the Torah's usage of a double phrase "Tithe, you shall surely tithe" (Devarim 14:22) teaches us that the reward for fulfilling the mitzvah of tithing is the blessing of wealth. (The Hebrew word can be read both as "te'asser" which means "tithe" and as "te'asher" which means "become wealthy.") Tosefot there cites a Sifrei that this applies not only to agricultural produce which the Torah commands us to tithe but to the tithing of any earnings and profits as well.
Just as one who gives a share of his wealth to charity does not suffer a reduction in his resources but actually enjoys an increase, so it is with the sharing of his Torah knowledge. The greatest Sages (Rabbi Chanina in Mesechta Ta'anit 7a and Rebbie in Mesechta Makkot 10a) have declared "Much have I learned from my teachers; even more from my colleagues; and the most from my students." The scholar who shares his learning with others loses nothing. He becomes even wealthier with the true riches of Torah knowledge.
- Ketubot 50a