Translation:Shulchan Aruch/Choshen Mishpat/278
Paragraph 1- A firstborn only takes double portion in his father’s property, and not his mother’s property. Even if he is the father’s and mother’s firstborn, he and his non-firstborn brothers would divide equally.
Paragraph 2- If one died and was survived by sons and a widow, and the widow died before she had a chance to swear on her kesubah, all of the properties are in the possession of the inheritors and the firstborn would take double.
Paragraph 3- A firstborn does not take double of properties that are supposed to come after the father’s death. He only takes double of properties that have come to the father’s possession as the verse states, “of all that they find from him.” How so? If someone whom the father would inherit from died after the father died, the firstborn and non-firstborn would inherit equally. Similarly, if the father had a loan they would inherit together.
Paragraph 4- If the father left a rented or contracted out cow, or if it was grazing in the meadow and gave birth, the firstborn would take double of the animal and child. There are those who disagree. If the father left a slave or non-kosher animal, the firstborn would take two portions and the non-firstborn would one portion, which means they would serve the firstborn for two days and the non-firstborn for one day. See above 171:8.
Paragraph 5- If one of the father’s friends slaughtered an animal, and the father then died, the firstborn would take double of the kohanim-gifts of that animal.
Paragraph 6- A firstborn does not take double from the appreciation of the properties that occurred after his father died. Rather, we would appraise the value of the appreciation and the firstborn would give that amount to the non-firstborn. This is in a case where the properties changed, such as where tender barley became ears of grain or unripe dates became bona-fide dates. With respect to the natural appreciation where nothing changed, however, such as a small tree that became large and thick or earth that became a sandbank, the firstborn would take double from that appreciation. If the appreciation occurred because of expenses that were incurred, the firstborn would not take double. When is this true? Where the firstborn did not object. If the firstborn objected and said do not appreciate the properties until we divide, however, and they did not listen to him and they appreciated the properties and did not make any change, the firstborn would take double of the appreciation. If they did make a change, the firstborn would not receive any appreciation or depreciation.
Paragraph 7- A firstborn does not take double of a loan, even if it is documented and even if they collected real property for the father’s debt. If the father had a partnership is another’s possession, he is considered to have had possession. If the father had a loan against the firstborn, the law is unclear whether the firstborn would receive double because he possesses the loan or if he does not receive double because he is inheriting via his father who did not have possession of it. Thus, he should only take half of his firstborn portion. When is this true? In the case of a loan without collateral. If there was collateral, however, the firstborn would receive double because it is as if the father had possession, even if the collateral was taken at the time of the loan. There are those who say that this is only if the collateral belongs to a Jew, but having a gentile’s collateral does not qualify as having possession unless the collateral was forfeited to him.
Paragraph 8- If a firstborn sold his firstborn portion before they divided, his sale is valid because a firstborn has rights to his firstborn portion before division. Thus, if he divided with his brothers on some of the properties, regardless of whether it was real property or movable items, and he took a portion as a non-firstborn, he was waived his firstborn rights on all the properties, and would take like a non-firstborn on the rest of the properties.
Paragraph 9- When is this true? Where the firstborn did not object. If he objected to his brothers, however, and said in front of two that these grapes he is dividing equally with his brothers is not because he is waiving his firstborn-portion, that would be a valid objection and he will not have waived his rights in other properties. Even if the firstborn objection on the grapes when they were still attached and they harvested them and divided them equally, he will not have waived for other properties. If they pressed them and divided the wine equally and he did not object, however, once it was made into wine he will have waived his rights on the other properties. What is this comparable to? To someone who objected on grapes and divided on olives, in which case he has waived his rights on everything. The same applies to anything similar.
Paragraph 10- If a loan document was produced against the estate, the firstborn would pay back double. If he does not want to take double and pay back double, he is permitted. The practicality of such a rule is that if the other inheritors are minors or are not present, this would enable him to only pay back his non-firstborn portion. There are those who say that if he wants to retract, he would not be able to. If the deceased had real properties with a lien of others on it, he is considered to have possession of the properties. If he owed the properties to the king as a tax, however, and it is the king’s practice to take real property as tax payment, that is considered property that is only fit for the deceased. In a place where it is not the practice for the king to do this, however, the deceased is considered to have possession and the firstborn would take double. If the deceased had property “effective today and after death” or if real property, which technically cannot be stolen from him, was stolen from him, and even if scrolls were stolen from him which we presume he has not given upon hope on, he is considered to have possession.