Introduction to Hilchos Maaser

They contain one positive commandment: To separate the first tithe [from the crops] in each of the years [when crops] are sown and give it to the Levites. This mitzvah is explained in the ensuing chapters.

הלכות מעשר - הקדמה הלכות מעשר מצוה אחת והוא להפריש מעשר ראשון בכל שנה ושנה משנת הזריעה וליתנו ללוים וביאור מצוה זו בפרקים אלו:

1

After separating the great terumah,1 one should separate one tenth of the remaining produce2 and this is called the first tithe. Concerning it [Numbers 18:24] states: "For the tithes of the children of Israel that they will separate to God."3

These tithes are given to Levites, males and females, as [ibid.] states: "And I gave the Levites all of the tithes of the children of Israel as an inheritance."

א

אַחַר שֶׁמַּפְרִישִׁין תְּרוּמָה גְּדוֹלָה מַפְרִישׁ אֶחָד מֵעֲשָׂרָה מִן הַנִּשְׁאָר וְזֶהוּ הַנִּקְרָא מַעֲשֵׂר רִאשׁוֹן וּבוֹ נֶאֱמַר (במדבר יח כד) "כִּי אֶת מַעְשַׂר בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר יָרִימוּ לַה'" וְגוֹ'. וְהַמַּעֲשֵׂר הַזֶּה לִלְוִיִּים זְכָרִים וּנְקֵבוֹת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר יח כא) "וְלִבְנֵי לֵוִי הִנֵּה נָתַתִּי כָּל מַעֲשֵׂר בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל לְנַחֲלָה":

2

An Israelite is permitted to partake of the first tithe, and it may be eaten in a state of ritual impurity, because it is not holy.4 Whenever the term "holy" or "redemption" is used with regard to the tithes, the intent is the second tithe.5

What is the source from which we learn that the first tithe is ordinary produce? [Ibid.:27] states: "And your terumah will be considered for you as grain from your grainheap and the fullness of the vat." Just as a grainheap and a vat [contain] ordinary produce, so, too, once terumat ma'aser has been separated from the first tithe,6 it is ordinary produce in all regards. For this reason, when the daughter of a Levite has been taken captive7 or she engaged in forbidden relations, she can be given tithes and she may partake of it. When, however, there was a report that a woman's husband died or one witness testified that he died, she married8 and then her husband appeared, our Sages penalized her and ruled that she is forbidden to partake of the tithes.9

ב

מַעֲשֵׂר רִאשׁוֹן מֻתָּר בַּאֲכִילָה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל וּמֻתָּר לְאָכְלוֹ בְּטֻמְאָה שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ קְדֻשָּׁה כְּלָל. וְכָל מָקוֹם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בְּמַעַשְׂרוֹת קֹדֶשׁ אוֹ פְּדִיָּה אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא מַעֲשֵׂר שֵׁנִי. וּמִנַּיִן שֶׁמַּעֲשֵׂר רִאשׁוֹן חֻלִּין שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר יח כז) "וְנֶחְשַׁב לָכֶם תְּרוּמַתְכֶם כַּדָּגָן מִן הַגֹּרֶן וְכַמְלֵאָה מִן הַיָּקֶב" מָה גֹּרֶן וְיֶקֶב חֻלִּין לְכָל דָּבָר אַף מַעֲשֵׂר רִאשׁוֹן שֶׁנִּטְּלָה תְּרוּמָתוֹ חֻלִּין לְכָל דָּבָר. לְפִיכָךְ בַּת לֵוִי שֶׁנִּשְׁבֵּית אוֹ שֶׁנִּבְעֲלָה בְּעִילַת זְנוּת נוֹתְנִין לָהּ הַמַּעֲשֵׂר וְאוֹכֶלֶת. אֲבָל מִי שֶׁשָּׁמְעָה שֶׁמֵּת בַּעְלָהּ אוֹ הֵעִיד לָהּ עֵד אֶחָד וְנִסֵּת וְאַחַר כָּךְ בָּא בַּעְלָהּ קָנְסוּ אוֹתָהּ חֲכָמִים שֶׁתִּהְיֶה אֲסוּרָה בְּמַעֲשֵׂר:

3

The Levites and the priests should separate the first tithe so that they can separate terumat ma'aser from it.10 Similarly, the priests must separate other types of terumah11 and tithes12 for themselves.13 Since the priests receive all types of agricultural gifts, is it possible for them to partake of the produce without these separations having been made? [Numbers 18:28] states: "And so shall you separate, also you...." "You" includes the Levites. "Also you" includes the priests.

ג

לְוִיִּים וְכֹהֲנִים מַפְרִישִׁין מַעֲשֵׂר רִאשׁוֹן כְּדֵי לְהַפְרִישׁ מִמֶּנּוּ תְּרוּמַת מַעֲשֵׂר. וְכֵן הַכֹּהֲנִים מַפְרִישִׁין שְׁאָר תְּרוּמוֹת וּמַעַשְׂרוֹת לְעַצְמָן. וּלְפִי שֶׁהַכֹּהֲנִים נוֹטְלִין מִן הַכּל יָכוֹל יֹאכְלוּ פֵּרוֹתֵיהֶן בְּטִבְלָן תַּלְמוּד לוֹמַר (במדבר יח כח) "כֵּן תָּרִימוּ גַּם אַתֶּם" מִפִּי הַשְּׁמוּעָה לָמְדוּ אַתֶּם אֵלּוּ הַלְוִיִּם גַּם אַתֶּם לְרַבּוֹת אֶת הַכֹּהֲנִים:

4

We do not expropriate the tithes from the priests, as [ibid.:26] states: "When you take from the children of Israel...."14 Similarly, none of the presents given to the priests must be given from one priest to another priest.15

Ezra penalized the Levites in his time16 because they did not ascend to Jerusalem with him17 and ordained that the first tithe should be given solely to the priests.

ד

אֵין מוֹצִיאִין הַמַּעֲשֵׂר מִיַּד הַכֹּהֲנִים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר יח כו) "כִּי תִקְחוּ מֵאֵת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל" וְכֵן כָּל מַתְּנוֹת כְּהֻנָּה אֵין מוֹצִיאִין אוֹתָן מִכֹּהֵן לְכֹהֵן. וְעֶזְרָא קָנַס אֶת הַלְוִיִּם בִּזְמַנּוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יִתְּנוּ לָהֶן מַעֲשֵׂר רִאשׁוֹן אֶלָּא יִנָּתֵן לַכֹּהֲנִים לְפִי שֶׁלֹּא עָלוּ עִמּוֹ לִירוּשָׁלַיִם:

Mishneh Torah (Moznaim)

Featuring a modern English translation and a commentary that presents a digest of the centuries of Torah scholarship which have been devoted to the study of the Mishneh Torah by Maimonides.

5

When a person partakes of his produce while it is tevel18 or a Levite partakes of the tithes while they are tevel,19 although they are liable for death at the hand of Heaven,20 they are not liable to make reimbursement to the owners.21 [This is derived from ibid.:24:] "...that they will separate to God." [Implied is that the recipients] do not have any share in them until they have been separated.

In the Diaspora,22 it is permitted for a person to continue eating and afterwards, separate terumah and the tithes.23

ה

הָאוֹכֵל פֵּרוֹתָיו טְבָלִין וְכֵן לֵוִי שֶׁאָכַל הַמַּעֲשֵׂר בְּטִבְלוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵן חַיָּבִין מִיתָה לַשָּׁמַיִם אֵין מְשַׁלְּמִין הַמַּתָּנוֹת לְבַעֲלֵיהֶן שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר יח כד) "אֲשֶׁר יָרִימוּ לַה'" אֵין לְךָ בָּהֶן כְּלוּם עַד שֶׁיָּרִימוּ אוֹתָן. וּבְחוּצָה לָאָרֶץ מֻתָּר לְאָדָם לִהְיוֹת אוֹכֵל וְהוֹלֵךְ תְּחִלָּה וְאַחַר כָּךְ מַפְרִישׁ תְּרוּמָה וּמַעַשְׂרוֹת:

6

We can separate tithes from produce in one place for produce in another place. They need not be grouped together.24 We do not, however, separate tithes from one species for another species,25 nor from produce for which we are obligated to separate tithes for produce from which we are exempt from separating, nor from produce for which we are exempt from separating tithes for produce from which such a separation is required.26 If one made a separation in any of the above instances, [the produce separated] is not considered as tithes.27

ו

מְעַשְּׂרִין מִמָּקוֹם זֶה עַל מָקוֹם אַחֵר וְאֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לְעַשֵּׂר מִן הַמֻּקָּף. אֲבָל אֵין מְעַשְּׂרִין מִמִּין עַל שֶׁאֵינוֹ מִינוֹ וְלֹא מִן הַחַיָּב עַל הַפָּטוּר וְלֹא מִן הַפָּטוּר עַל הַחַיָּב וְאִם עִשֵּׂר אֵינוֹ מְעֻשָּׂר:

7

Whenever we said with regard to terumah, that terumah may not be separated from one type of produce for another,28 tithes may not be separated from one such type of produce for another such type. And whenever we said that the separation of terumah from [one type of produce] is acceptable [after the fact],29 if one separated tithes from such produce, it is acceptable. Whenever produce is exempt from the obligation to have terumah separated,30 it is also exempt from the obligation to have tithes separated. All those individuals who may separate terumah may separate the tithes. And all those concerning whom it was said that they should not separate terumah, but if they did separate it, the separation is effective,31 so too, if they separate the tithes, the separation is effective. And whenever a person's separation of terumah is not effective,32 his separation of tithes is also not effective.

ז

כָּל שֶׁאָמַרְנוּ בִּתְרוּמָה אֵין תּוֹרְמִין מִזֶּה עַל זֶה כָּךְ בְּמַעֲשֵׂר אֵין מְעַשְּׂרִין מִזֶּה עַל זֶה. וְכָל שֶׁאָמַרְנוּ בִּתְרוּמָה אִם תָּרַם תְּרוּמָתוֹ תְּרוּמָה כָּךְ בְּמַעֲשֵׂר אִם הִפְרִישׁ מַעַשְׂרוֹתָיו מַעַשְׂרוֹת. וְכָל שֶׁהוּא פָּטוּר מִן הַתְּרוּמָה פָּטוּר מִן הַמַּעֲשֵׂר. וְכָל הַתּוֹרֵם מְעַשֵּׂר. כָּל שֶׁאָמַרְנוּ בָּהֶן לֹא יִתְרֹמוּ וְאִם תָּרְמוּ תְּרוּמָתָן תְּרוּמָה כָּךְ אִם עִשְּׂרוּ מַעַשְׂרוֹתֵיהֶן מַעַשְׂרוֹת. וְכָל שֶׁאֵין תְּרוּמָתוֹ תְּרוּמָה כָּךְ אֵין מַעַשְׂרוֹתֵיהֶן מַעַשְׂרוֹת:

8

When a person tells a colleague: "I will tithe through your agency," he does not have to stand with him to see whether he tithed or did not tithe.33 If [the agent] tells a colleague: "Tithe using me as an agent," he must stand with him.34

ח

הָאוֹמֵר לַחֲבֵרוֹ הֲרֵינִי מְעַשֵּׂר עַל יָדֶיךָ אֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לַעֲמֹד עִמּוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּרְאֶה אִם יְעַשֵּׂר אוֹ לֹא יְעַשֵּׂר. וְאִם אָמַר הוּא לַחֲבֵרוֹ עַשֵּׂר עַל יָדִי צָרִיךְ לַעֲמֹד עִמּוֹ:

9

The obligation to tithe carobs is only Rabbinic in origin,35 for they are not eaten by most people.36 Bitter almonds, whether large or small,37 are exempt, for they are not considered food.38

ט

הֶחָרוּבִין אֵינָן חַיָּבִין בְּמַעַשְׂרוֹת אֶלָּא מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם. לְפִי שֶׁאֵינָן מַאֲכָל [רֹב] אָדָם. וְהַשְּׁקֵדִים הַמָּרִים בֵּין בְּגָדְלָן בֵּין בִּקְטַנָּן פְּטוּרִין לְפִי שֶׁאֵינָן אֹכֶל:

10

A tree that is planted inside a house is exempt from the obligations of the tithes, as [indicated by Deuteronomy 14:22]: "You shall certainly tithe all the produce of your crops that grow in the field."39 It appears to me that tithes must be separated from this produce according to Rabbinic Law, for one is required to tithe the fruit of a fig tree that stands in a courtyard if it was harvested at one time.40

י

אִילָן שֶׁנְּטָעוֹ בְּתוֹךְ הַבַּיִת פָּטוּר מִמַּעַשְׂרוֹת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יד כב) "עַשֵּׂר תְּעַשֵּׂר אֵת כָּל תְּבוּאַת זַרְעֶךָ הַיֹּצֵא הַשָּׂדֶה". וְיֵרָאֶה לִי שֶׁהוּא חַיָּב בְּמַעַשְׂרוֹת מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם שֶׁהֲרֵי תְּאֵנָה הָעוֹמֶדֶת בֶּחָצֵר חַיָּב לְעַשֵּׂר פֵּרוֹתֶיהָ אִם אֲסָפָן כְּאַחַת:

11

When onions [stored in a home] grew roots next to each other, even if they grew roots in the earth of a loft, they are exempt from tithes.41 If a landslide covered them,42 and they are thus open [to the skies], it is as if they have been planted in the field and one is obligated to tithe them.

יא

בְּצָלִים שֶׁהִשְׁרִישׁוּ זֶה בְּצַד זֶה אֲפִלּוּ הִשְׁרִישׁוּ בְּקַרְקַע עֲלִיָּה פְּטוּרִין מִן הַמַּעַשְׂרוֹת. נָפְלָה עֲלֵיהֶן מַפּלֶת וַהֲרֵי הֵן מְגֻלִּין הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ כִּנְטוּעִין בַּשָּׂדֶה וְחַיָּבִין בְּמַעַשְׂרוֹת:

12

[The following laws apply when someone is] protecting his field because of grapes43 and another person comes and collects the figs that remain in that field or he was guarding his field because of the zucchini and squash44 and another person came and gathered the grapes which were scattered in the field. When [it is known] that the owner of the field is concerned with the leftover produce, it is forbidden to take it; [doing so] is stealing.45 Hence, tithes and terumah must be separated from the crops. If the owner of the field is not concerned with it, it is permitted [to take it;46 it is not] theft. Hence, they are exempt from the tithes.47

יב

הַמְשַׁמֵּר שָׂדֵהוּ מִפְּנֵי עֲנָבָיו וּבָא אַחֵר וְאָסַף אֶת הַתְּאֵנִים הַנִּשְׁאָרוֹת בְּאוֹתָהּ שָׂדֶה. אוֹ שֶׁהָיָה מְשַׁמֵּר שָׂדֵהוּ מִפְּנֵי הַמִּקְשָׁאוֹת וְהַמִדְּלָעוֹת וּבָא אֶחָד וְאָסַף אֶת הָעֲנָבִים הַנִּשְׁאָרִים שָׁם הַמְפֻזָּרִים בַּשָּׂדֶה. בִּזְמַן שֶׁבַּעַל הַשָּׂדֶה מַקְפִּיד עֲלֵיהֶן אֲסוּרִין מִשּׁוּם גֵּזֶל וּלְפִיכָךְ חַיָּבִין בְּמַעֲשֵׂר וּבִתְרוּמָה. אֵין בַּעַל הַשָּׂדֶה מַקְפִּיד עֲלֵיהֶן מֻתָּרִין מִשּׁוּם גֵּזֶל וּפְטוּרִין מִן הַמַּעֲשֵׂר:

13

Only the most choice produce should be separated as tithes,48 as [Numbers 18:30] states: "When you separate the choice portion from it, and it will be considered for the Levites49 as the produce of the grainheap and the produce of the vat." Just as the Levites must separate the choicest portions of the tithes, the Israelites who separate from the grainheap and the vat separate the choicest portions.

יג

אֵין מְעַשְּׂרִין אֶלָּא מִן הַמֻּבְחָר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר יח ל) "בַּהֲרִימְכֶם אֶת חֶלְבּוֹ מִמֶּנּוּ וְנֶחְשַׁב לָכֶם כִּתְבוּאַת גֹּרֶן וְכִתְבוּאַת יָקֶב". כְּשֵׁם שֶׁמַּעֲשֵׂר שֶׁמַּפְרִישִׁים הַלְוִיִּם מִן הַחֵלֶב שֶׁבּוֹ כָּךְ מַעֲשֵׂר שֶׁמַּפְרִישִׁים יִשְׂרָאֵל מִן הַגֹּרֶן וּמִן הַיֶּקֶב מִן הַחֵלֶב שֶׁבּוֹ:

14

We may not separate tithes by estimation.50 Instead, one must do so through measuring,51 weight, or number.52 One who is precise in the measurement is praiseworthy. When one gives an extra amount as the tithes, his tithes are flawed, because untithed produce is mixed with them.53 [The remainder of] his produce has, however, been made fit for use.

יד

אֵין מְעַשְּׂרִין בְּאֹמֶד אֶלָּא בְּמִדָּה אוֹ בְּמִשְׁקָל אוֹ בְּמִנְיָן. וְכָל הַמְדַקְדֵּק בַּשִּׁעוּר מְשֻׁבָּח. וְהַמַּרְבֶּה בְּמַעַשְׂרוֹת מַעַשְׂרוֹתָיו מְקֻלְקָלִין שֶׁהֲרֵי הַטֶּבֶל מְעֹרָב בָּהֶן. וּפֵרוֹתָיו מְתֻקָּנִין:

15

When a person separates a portion of the tithes, they are not considered as tithes. Instead, it is as if someone divided the grainheap. He must, however, separate from the portion set aside the tithes that are appropriate for it.

What is implied? A person had 100 se'ah. He set aside five se'ah as the tithes. [These five se'ah] are not considered as tithes.54 He cannot separate tithes for [these five se'ah] from another source.55 Instead, he should separate half a se'ah from them. It is their tithes.

טו

הַמַּפְרִישׁ מִקְצָת מַעֲשֵׂר אֵינוֹ מְעַשֵּׂר אֶלָּא כְּמִי שֶׁחָלַק אֶת הָעֲרֵמָה. אֲבָל צָרִיךְ [לְהַפְרִישׁ] מִזֶּה הַחֵלֶק שֶׁיּוֹצִיא מַעֲשֵׂר שֶׁלּוֹ. כֵּיצַד. הָיוּ לוֹ מֵאָה סְאָה הִפְרִישׁ מֵהֶם חֲמִשָּׁה לְשֵׁם מַעֲשֵׂר אֵינוֹ מַעֲשֵׂר וְאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהַפְרִישׁ עַל הֶחָמֵשׁ סְאִין מַעֲשֵׂר בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵר אֶלָּא מַפְרִישׁ מֵהֶן חֲצִי סְאָה שֶׁהִיא הַמַּעֲשֵׂר שֶׁלָּהֶן:

16

When a person separates the [first] tithe, he should recite a blessing first, as one recites a blessing [before observing] any of the mitzvot.56 Similarly, he should recite a blessing [before separating] the second tithe, the tithe given to the poor, and the tithe of a tithe.57 He should recite a blessing for each one individually. If he made all the separations one directly after the other without speaking in between, he should include them all in one blessing, [praising God who commanded us] "to separate the terumot and the tithes."58

טז

הַמַּפְרִישׁ מַעֲשֵׂר זֶה מְבָרֵךְ תְּחִלָּה כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁמְּבָרְכִין עַל הַמִּצְוֹת. וְכֵן מְבָרֵךְ עַל מַעֲשֵׂר שֵׁנִי וְעַל מַעֲשַׂר עָנִי וְעַל מַעֲשֵׂר מִן הַמַּעֲשֵׂר מְבָרֵךְ עַל כָּל אֶחָד בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ. וְאִם הִפְרִישׁ הַכּל זֶה אַחַר זֶה מִיָּד וְלֹא סָח בֵּינֵיהֶן כּוֹלְלָן בִּבְרָכָה אַחַת וּמְבָרֵךְ לְהַפְרִישׁ תְּרוּמוֹת וּמַעַשְׂרוֹת: