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Mishnah Maasrot

Maasrot
 Chapter 1

מעשרות
פרק א’

Commentary

A.

Regarding this chapter I’d like to focus on an interesting phenomenon in Mishnah redaction – inner-mishnaic interpretation1. Unlike most of our discussions on this site, which focus on the internal workings of a textual unit (a “collection” of mishnahs, a chapter, a group of chapters, a tractate), we will focus here on how different textual units of Mishnah interact with one another. The text I will discuss is the opening mishnah, a stand-alone unit which serves as a general introduction to the chapter and the tractate.

The main topic of the tractate is the conditions which engender the obligation of tithing produce, and the main body of our chapter, starting with m. 2, addresses the stages of development of the produce which engender the obligation of tithing. There are two stages discussed in our chapter2, each of which is introduced by a question. The question of m. 2, “From when is produce obligated in tithes?”, opens the listing of stages of growth for different kinds of produce which are regarded as full botanical development for the sake of tithing. M. 5’s question “When is their ‘threshing time’ (i.e. the decisive stage in processing for use)?” is followed by a list of the different     human activities necessary to render different kinds of produce ready for use, and thus obligated in tithes. Underlying this presentation of the stages of development involved in creating the obligation to tithe is the basic principle set forth in the opening mishnah:

A principle was stated regarding tithes:

 

Whatever is food and guarded and grows from the land –

 

is obligated in tithes.

 

כלל אמרו במעשרות:

 

כל שהוא אכל ונשמר וגדוליו מן הארץ –

 

חייב במעשרות

 

The requirement of tithing to be discussed in this tractate is thus limited to things which satisfy three conditions:

  • food – property which provides other kinds of benefit is not obligated in tithes;
  • guarded – produce which grows wild or which the owner leaves unguarded for general use need not be tithed;
  • grows from the ground – thus excluding inanimate property, livestock, fish, and parasitic growths such as mushrooms;

This principle, which presents the basic definition of the kinds of property which require tithing, is followed by a second principle:

And a further principle was stated:

 

Whatever begins as food and ends as food,

 

Even though he guards it in order to add more food –

 

is obligated, whether [picked when it was] large or small;

 

And whatever does not begin as food, even though it ends as food –

 

Is not obligated until it becomes food.

ועוד כלל אחר אמרו:

 

כל שתחלתו אכל וסופו אכל

 

אף על פי שהוא שומרו להוסיף אכל –

 

חַיָּב קטן וגדול; 

 

וכל שאין תחלתו אכל אבל סופו אכל –

 

אינו חַיָּב עד שיעשה אכל.

This second principle plays a vital structural role, serving as a segue from the opening principle to the body of the chapter. Utilizing two of the three key terms involved in the first principle, “food” (אכל) and “guarding” (ש-מ-ר), the second principle addresses the issue to be discussed in the first section of the chapter (mm. 2-4): from what stage of growth is produce obligated in tithes? The Mishnah’s answer in the second principle is that the obligation of tithing takes effect when the produce is defined as food. This principle subdivides into two cases. The first case includes those forms of produce – identified in m. 4 as “vegetables” (ירק) – which “begin and end as food”, whose edible portion can be eaten as soon as its shape is recognizable (m. 4 lists among others:  cucumbers, squash, citrons), and thus subject to tithes whether “big or small” – a phrase echoed in m. 4. The second case includes produce which, even after it takes on its final shape, needs to ripen before it is edible, and hence is not subject to tithing until it reaches a minimal degree of ripeness, as outlined in mm. 2-3. In an interesting display of literary prowess, the Mishnah’s second principle deploys the term “guard” (שמר), which the first principle employed to denote the requirement of private ownership, endowing it with a new shade of meaning: the intended purpose of leaving the produce in the ground. This aspect of “guarding” is seen, in the second principle, to be irrelevant: once the produce is regarded qualitatively as edible, the intent of the owner to leave the produce in the ground to enlarge its quantity does not defer its eligibility for tithing. 

The first of these two principles echoes a similar formulation found near the opening of tractate Peah. Here too the Mishnah employs the relatively rare formula kelal amru (a principle was stated)3 to open a halakhic discussion:  

Maasrot 1:1

Peah 1:4

מעשרות פ”א מ”א

פאה פ”א מ”ד

A principle was stated regarding  tithes:

 

Whatever is food and guarded and grows from the land

 

 

 

 

is obligated in  tithes

A principle was stated regarding  Pe’ah:

 

Whatever is food and guarded and grows from the land

 

And is gathered at one time

 

and is brought in for storage

 

is obligated in Pe’ah.

כלל אמרו במעשרות:

 

 

כל שהוא אכל ונשמר וגדוליו מן הארץ

 

 

 

 

 

חייב במעשרות

כלל אמרו בפאה:

 

 

כל שהוא אכל ונשמר וגדוליו מן הארץ

 

ולקיטתו כאחת

 

ומכניסו לקיום

 

חייב בפאה

 

The identical formulation which opens both these mishnahs highlights both the similarities and the differences between the prerequisites for tithes and for Pe’ah.  Both tithes and Pe’ah apply only to foods which are “guarded” (privately owned) and grow from the ground. The mishnah in tractate Peah adds two additional preconditions for Pe’ah:

  • Produce is subject to Pe’ah only if it has a single harvest season, excluding (for example) figs, which ripen on the tree at different times throughout the year and are thus picked at different times.
  • Only produce which can be maintained for a protacted period in storage is subject to Pe’ah, including grains and legumes while excluding most vegetables and many kinds of fruit.

The similar form and language of these two mishnahs might perhaps reflect a common original source from which Rabbi, the Mishnah redactor, drew in compiling our Mishnah. However, it would appear that, regardless of the sources from which these two mishnahs are drawn, Rabbi intended these two mishnahs to be read in light of one another, in order to focus attention on the comparison between these two halakhic realms and to reflect on the meaning of their similarities and differences. This conclusion is further supported by a third mishnah, found in Niddah 6:6:4

Whatever is obligated in Pe’ah is obligated in tithes

But there are those obligated in tithes who are not obligated in Pe’ah

כל שחייב בפאה – חייב במעשרות

ויש שחייב במעשרות – ואינו חייב בפאה

This mishnah draws the conclusion clearly indicated by the intertextual comparison of Peah 1:4 with Ma’asrot 1:1 – inasmuch as the obligation of Pe’ah depends upon the same three conditions as the obligation of tithing, with the addition of two additional criteria, it follows that the kinds of produce obligated in Pe’ah form a subset of the larger set of kinds of produce obligated in tithes. The interest of the Mishnah in tractate Niddah in spelling out the interrelationship between the categories of produce obligated in tithes and those obligated in Pe’ah strengthens our conviction that the similar formulae found in Peah 1:4 and Maasrot 1:1 serve as an intertextual tool inviting the reader to note the interrelationship between these two areas of halakhah.

As further support for this conclusion, it is noteworthy that the continuation of tractate Peah alludes at several points to the interconnection between the laws of Pe’ah and the laws of tithing:

  • M. 1:6 notes that the gift of Pe’ah to the poor exempts produce from the requirement of tithing5. This exemption is alluded to also in the last chapter of the tractate, which discusses the reliability of the poor to claim that produce in their possession was gleaned from Pe’ah or other forms of agricultural charity, and hence exempt from tithes (mm. 8:2-4)6.
  • M. 4:7-8 explicitly compares the exemption of consecrated grain from Pe’ah with its exemption from tithes, noting that the exemption from Pe’ah depends on its consecrated status at the time of reaping, whereas the exemption from tithes depends upon its status at the times of full botanical development and processing for use7.
  • Mm. 8:5-6 append to the discussion of Pe’ah and its cognates (“gleanings” and “forgotten sheafs” [leket, shikhekhah]) a brief discussion of the Tithe for the Poor (ma’aser ani). Unlike the other gifts to the poor discussed in the tractate, which are left in the field for the poor to gather on their own, the Tithe of the Poor is distributed by the owner, and the Mishnah establishes minimum quantities of distribution for each kind of produce.

To sum up: the connections the Mishnah draws between tithing and Pe’ah both in m. Niddah 6:6 and in several places in tractate Peah underscore the signficance of the intertextual connection between Peah 1:4 and Maasrot 1:1. Before analyzing the meaning of this connection, I’d like to examine an additional intertextual connection between the opening of Maasrot and a section of another Mishnah tractate –  Shevi’it.

B.

Shevi’it chapters 7 and 8 both open with similar formulations:

Shevi’it 7:1

Shevi’it 8:1

שביעית פ”ח מ”א

שביעית פ”ז מ”א

was said regarding seventh-year:

Whatever  is human food or animal food

or species of dyes

and does not last in the ground

it and its payment have the laws of seventh year;

it and its payment require bi’ur (removal)

 

A further principle was said:

Whatever is human food or animal food

or species of dyes

 

and lasts in the ground

it and its payment have the laws of seventh year;

it and its payment do not require bi’ur  

 

 

was said regarding seventh-year:

Whatever  is specified as human food

may not be made into plaster for [the wound of] a person and certainly of an animal;

and whatever  is not specified as human food – may be made into plaster for a person but not for an animal

and whatever  is not specified as human food or animal food: if he intended it for human or animal food – we place upon him the stringencies of man and of beast;

if he intended it for wood [= fuel] – it is considered as wood.

 כלל גדול אמרו בשביעית:

 

כל המיוחד למאכל אדם

 

אין עושין ממנו מלוגמא לאדם ואין צריך לומר לבהמה;

וכל שאינו מיוחד למאכל אדם – עושין ממנו מלוגמא לאדם, אבל לא לבהמה

 

וכל שאינו מיוחד לא למאכל אדם ולא למאכל בהמה חשב עליו למאכל אדם ולמאכל בהמה – נותנין עליו חומרי אדם וחומרי בהמה;

חשב עליו לעצים – הרי הוא כעצים

כלל גדול אמרו בשביעית:  

 

כל שהוא מאכל אדם

ומאכל בהמה,

וממין הצובעים

ואינו מתקיים בארץ

יש לו שביעית ולדמיו שביעית

 

יש לו בעור ולדמיו בעור

 

ועוד כלל אחר אמרו:

כל שהוא8 מאכל אדם

ומאכל בהמה

וממין הצובעים

ומתקיים בארץ

יש לו שביעית ולדמיו שביעית

 

אין בעור ואין לדמיו בעור

 

Of the 12 appearances in the Mishnah of the opening formula kelal amru (a principle was stated), 3 of them characterize the principle as “great”: kelal gadol amru (a great principle was stated)9. Two of these 3 (Shabbat 7 and Shevi’it 7) are followed – like the principle which opens our chapter, Maasrot 1 – by the phrase “an additional principle was stated”10. Two of these “great principles” appear in the openings of successive chapters of tractate Shevi’it, chapters 7 and 811. The connection between these two chapter openings is not limited to this striking opening phrase. The “great principle” of chapter 8 utilizes other central terms from the “great principle” of chapter 7, and for good reason, inasmuch as chapter 8 develops and refines the principle established in chapter 7.  Chapter 7 asserts that produce is subject to shevi’it  (i.e. the laws governing proper use and consumption of seventh-year produce) only if it is edible, whether for humans or animals, or  if it can be used as a dye, adding that if the produce is perishable  (= unable to remain in the ground for a protracted period), it also requires bi’ur, i.e. removal from the house after it is no longer available in the ground12. After chapter 7 has explained which seventh-year produce is subject to the laws governing their consumption, chapter 8 explains what these laws are, differentiating among the types of  produce listed in chapter 7:

  • produce normally designated for human consumption may only be eaten, but not used for medicinal purposes;
  • produce normally designated for animal consumption may be used as medicine for humans;
  • edible produce which is normally not designated specifically either for human consumption or for animal consumption depends upon the intention of the owner – if he intends to use it as food, then it is subject to the laws governing food (the previous two statements); if he intends to use it as fuel, then it is not subject to the restrictions governing food.

It is noteworthy that these two “great principles” share a common motif with the “principles” that we have seen above in tractates Peah and Maasrot. The principles of Peah and Maasrot established that the first criterion for establishing an obligation in tithes and in gifts to the poor is defining the produce as food. Similarly, the “great principles” of tractate Shevi’it focus attention on the character of the produce as food, and on the corresponding obligation to consume it as food. It, of course, goes without saying that – like tithes and Pe’ah – the laws of seventh-year produce apply only to that which grows in the ground, corresponding to the second shared criterion listed in Peah and Maasrot. However, the similarity of seventh-year regarding these two criteria to tithes and to Peah highlights three major differences between the “great principles” of seventh-year produce and the “principles” associated with tithes and Pe’ah. The third criterion shared by Peah and Maasrot, nishmar (guarded), is markedly absent from the criteria of seventh-year produce. Furthermore, the “great principles” of Shevi’it extend the category of “food” to include animal fodder, as well as including dyes among the obligated forms of seventh-year produce, in contradistinction to tithes and Pe’ah, both of which are limited to human food13.

Finally, neither Peah nor Maasrot differentiates, as does Shevi’it, between produce that needs to be harvested promptly (eino mitkayyem ba’aretz = does not last in the ground) and produce which can last in the ground before harvesting. However, Peah does mention two criteria which corresponding in an interesting manner to this category mentioned in Shevi’it – Pe’ah applies only to produce which is “gathered at one time” (conceptually similar to eino mitkayyem ba’aretz) and which is “brought in for storage” (makhniso lekiyyum – same word as eino mitkayyem ba’aretz). Interestingly, the similar categories highlight a further contrast between Pe’ah and seventh-year produce. Whereas Pe’ah is limited to those kinds of produce which do last after they are harvested, the law of seventh-year bi’ur (removal from the house) applies only to those kinds which are not mitkayyem prior to harvesting.

The reason for the first contrast between seventh-year produce and the other two obligations is clear, inasmuch as one of the cardinal obligations upon a landowner during the Shemita year is to relinquish ownership of the produce growing in his field – “[The produce of] the Sabbath of your land shall be for you to eat, for you and for your slaves and for your maidservants, and for your hirelings and for your residents living among you; and for your animals and for the beasts in your land – shall be all its produce for eating.” (Vayikra 25:7) Whereas Pe’ah and tithes relate only to produce that one owns, the restrictions governing consumption of seventh-year produce apply by definition to produce over which one has relinquished ownership and which one enjoys equally with all denizens of the land.  

The idea expressed in this verse also underlies the second distinction between Shemita and the other two obligations: tithes and Pe’ah apply only to food which the landowner has grown (and guarded) for his own (human) consumption, whereas Shemita is designed to provide food for animals as well as for humans. Shemita, moreover, is not limited to food, but is extended to include produce which serves as dye; further on we will revisit this distinction and attempt to understand its rationale.

The final distinction among the “principles” of Shemita, tithing and Pe’ah highlights the halakhic uniqueness of each of these three areas of agricultural halakhah. Tithing applies to produce that has already been harvested and processed by the owner for his consumption (or for marketing); hence there are no criteria that involve either the form of harvesting (once a year or multiple harvests throughout the year) or shelf-life. Whatever food produce has been grown for harvest, harvested, and processed for consumption is subject to tithing. Pe’ah, however, is left in the field to be harvested by the poor; accordingly it applies only to those forms of produce which have a clearly-defined harvest season, and is further limited to those forms of produce which have a long shelf-life after harvest, so that the poor can subsist on it throughout the year. The laws for consuming seventh-year produce are not limited to any specific form of produce (as long as they are edible or suitable for dye), but the law of bi’ur is limited to those forms of produce which cannot remain in the ground for a protracted period, such that they have a specific season when they are available for animals or for harvest. Produce which can remain in the ground indefinitely has no definable season when it is available for the animals, hence no definite time after which humans may not maintain it in their homes.

C.

By opening the laws of Pe’ah, of tithing, and of consuming Shemita produce with three different but interrelated “principles”, the Mishnah redactor indicates the conceptual similarities and differences among these three agricultural mitzvot. Tithes are gifts that the farmer is required to take from his own produce, after it has been harvested, taken into his possession, and readied for use. Bestowing these gifts upon the priests (terumah), the levites (the first tithe), and the poor (the tithe for the poor in the third and sixth years of the Shemita cycle), as well as consuming the “second tithe” (first, second, fourth, and fifth years) in Jerusalem as a sacred meal, express the gratitude of the farmer for the divine bounty with which he has been blessed. Pe’ah, on the other hand, is not a gift; it is left in the field for the poor to gather on their own, thus expressing the idea that the landowner’s possession of his land is partial, and the needy “own” a partial share of each landowner’s field and its produce. The limitations of ownership are magnified and extended in the Shemita year, during which the landowner is required to allow free access to “his” field, whose produce is enjoyed equally by all – rich and poor, man and beast.

Gratitude to God, expressed by tithing, is a different mode of religious expression than surrender of ownership, expressed on different levels by Pe’ah and Shemita. Gratitude responds to the legal and existential fact that the landowner indeed has possession of his land and his produce, but only by virtue of the divine gift of the land of Israel and the blessings which God has bestowed upon him. Pe’ah and Shemita, on the other hand, express the theological notion that, in a fundamental sense God has never granted Israel ownership of His land, and we are “aliens and sojourners” (Vayikra 25:23) upon God’s land. Pe’ah expresses this idea on the social plane, granting the landless poor the right to enter the field and collect certain parts of the harvest as though they have partial possession of the field. Shemita’s expression of this idea extends beyond the social to the metaphysical, leveling man and beast in equal enjoyment of the land’s bounty.

The Mishnah’s intertextual use of similar language in presenting the three “principles” underscores the similar religious perception that underlies tithing,  Pe’ah and Shemita, all of which express in different ways and on different levels the attitude to produce of the land as divine bounty rather than human achievement. On the other hand, the differences among these “principles” highlight the tension between two ways of conceiving this common religious perception: the land as a divine gift, in gratitude for which we are required to return a portion of the produce to those whom God specifies as recipients, as opposed to the land as a divine possession, in which we are granted privileges of use and consumption but not full-fledged ownership.

Study Questions

  1. The Yerushalmi Shabbat 7:1, 8d suggests that words כלל גדול (a great principle)  in M. Shabbat 7:1 indicate the most general principle – applying to all things, whether or not they grow in the ground; the same phrase in Shevi’it indicate a less general principle (only what grows in the ground); the word כלל (principle) in Maasrot is yet less general, referring only to human food; and in Peah it is the least general, referring only to food which is stored.
    1. Would you agree with the comment of Prof. Ze’ev Safrai, Mishnat Eretz Yisrael – Shevi’it, p. 213 that this is “merely a homiletic interpretation, which attempts to deduce from the Mishnah conceptual  conclusions not found in the text”. Support your answer.

  2. Compare the Mishnah at the beginning of Maasrot to Tosefta Maasrot 1:1:

    גרנן למעשרות לחייב עליו משם טבל, משתגמר מלאכתו ומלאכת מכנסתו.

    כל שתחלתו אוכל וסופו אוכל, כגון ירק, חייב בתחלתו וחייב בסופו; כל שתחלתו אוכל ואין סופו אוכל, כגון המקיים ירק לזרע, חייב בתחילתו ופטור בסופו; כל שאין תחלתו אוכל אבל סופו אוכל, כגון פירות אילן, פטור בתחילתו וחייב בסופו.

    The “threshing time” for tithes to render one liable for tevel (untithed produce) – from the time the processing and bringing in.

    Whatever begins as food and ends as food – such as vegetables –

    is obligated at the beginning and obligated at the end;

    And whatever  begin as food, but does not end as food – such as preserving vegetables for seed –

    Is  obligated at the beginning, but exempt at the end;

    And whatever does not begin as food, even though it ends as food – such as fruit of the tree –

    Is exempt at the beginning and obligated at the end.

    1. (a) Among the differences between these formulations and those of the Mishnah, note particularly the different order (“threshing time” before “begins/ends as food”) and the lack of reference to “כלל אמרו” (a principle was said). What might these differences reflect about the different histories and purposes of Mishnah and Tosefta redaction?
  3. In addition to the expression “כלל אמרו” (a principle was said), the opening mishnah of Maasrot uses an additional expression which is echoed intertextually in another tractate from the Order of Zeraim – “וכל שתחלתו אוכל וסופו אוכל” (whatever begins and ends as food) parallels the phrase near the beginning of Hallah (1:5), “עסה שתחלתה סופגנין וסופה סופגנין” (a dough which begins as batter and ends as batter [is exempt from hallah]), which presents the criterion for obligating dough in the hallah offering: that the dough either started or ended as “dough” rather than “batter”.
    1. How would you characterize the relationship between the “beginning and end” criteria set forth in tractate Maasrot and tractate Hallah?
    2. Hallah and tithes – especially the terumah (heave offering) given to the priest – are compared in Bemidbar 15:20 and M. Bava Metzia 4:8. What does the intertextual connection of “beginnings and ends” contribute to understanding this comparison?
  4. How would you characterize the social philosophy expressed by each of the three mitzvot compared in this lecture (tithes, Pe’ah, and Shemitta)? How do they contrast with and/or complement one another?
    1. In connection with this comparison, note the dispute between Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai in Pe’ah 6:1, in which Beit Hillel takes Shemitta as the model for hefker (reliniquishing ownership), while Beit Shammai models hefker on Pe’ah.
  5. Different sources relate tithing to different kinds of material blessing – see: Bereishit 14:20; Bereishit 28:22; Vayikra 27:30-33; Taanit 9a and Tosafot s.v. aser t’aser. What is uniquely significant religiously about tithes given from food grown in the ground?
    1. Why is Shemitta not confined to produce that is used as food?
  6. Taanit 9a suggests that tithing is not only an expression of  gratitude for divine bounty,  but a guarantor of further bounty. How might this idea be supported based on Devarim 26:15 and Malachi 3:10?
    1. Why do the sources seem to associate this idea specifically with the commandment of tithing?

  • 1 I have coined this term as a parallel to the term “inner-biblical interpretation,” commonly employed in   the field of biblical studies. See, for example:  http://tinyurl.com/lskkjb9
  • 2 The next chapter will introduce a third  condition for finalizing the obligation: bringing the produce into a house, or some alternative framework which engenders “fixity” (keva).
  • 3 Other than the examples discussed here, the formula appears in the Mishnah 7 additional times: twice each in Shabbat chapter 7 (m. 1 and m. 3) and Zavim chapter 5 (m. 1 – in the singular, kelal amar – and m. 2), and once each in Yevamot 2:3,  and Toharot 8:6. In most of these cases the formula opens a section of the Mishnah (regarding Toharot 8:6, see Yair Furstenburg, “Early Redactions of Purities: Re-Examination of Mishnah Source Criticism”, Tarbiz 80, 2012, p. 513), and in Yevamot 2:3 it simultaneously sums up the previous section (1:1-2:2) and opens the following section.  More frequently (92 times) the Mishnah concludes a halakhic discussion with a principle presented with the formula: zeh hakelal (this is the general principle).
  • 4 This mishnah appears in a collection of mishnahs which list areas in which the set of those to whom a particular halakhah is applicable is more inclusive than the set of those to whom another related halakhah is applicable. For example: the set of those people qualified to judge capital cases is a subset of those qualified to judge monetary cases (Niddah 6:4).
  • 5 The Mishnah conditions this exemption on giving the Pe’ah prior to “leveling [the stack]” (meiru’ah) – the stage identified in m. Maasrot 1:6 as the “threshing time” for grain, i.e. the stage after which the produce is fully obligated in tithes.
  • 6 See commentaries to m. 8:2. The background to this discussion is the lack of reliability of amei ha’aretz (people of the land) regarding whether produce in their possession has been tithed. The mishnah states that at times of year when the produce in the possession of the poor is likely to be obtained from sources which exempt it from tithing, even normally unreliable poor people would be believed on this matter.
  • 7 These two stages are identical with the two stages of tithing obligation listed in Maasrot chapter 1 (see above), although the terms used here – “the season of the tithing” (onat hama’asrot) and “final preparation” (g-m-r) – do not appear in Maasrot chapter 1. As we saw in the previous note, m. Peah 1:6 utilizes for the “final preparation” the term “leveling” (taken from m. Maasrot 1:6). 
  • 8 I have followed the text of the Kaufman manuscript and most other textual witnesses, which read  שהוא (which is). The printed version of the mishnah follows the text of the Rambam: שאינו (which is not).
  • 9 Safrai, Mishnat Eretz Yisrael – Shevi’it, Tel-Aviv 5768, p. 214 suggests that a “great principle” is a principle that emerges from several generations of halakhic inquiry.
  • 10 This formula appears in one additional place  in the Mishnah: Zavim 5:2. In our chapter, Shevi’it 7, the “additional principle” is actually not an independent principle at all, but merely the inverse of the “great principle” – whatever does not fulfill the conditions of “food for man, food for beast, or dye, lasts in the ground” does not have the law of removing from the house (bi’ur), even thought it does have other laws of the seventh year. Hence it would appear that the formula “an additional principle” is employed here in a somewhat artificial manner, perhaps to provide the requisite contrast with the “great principle” at the beginning of the chapter.
  • 11 Here we have a striking instance of “anaphora” (parallel openings) in the Mishnah. It bears noting that the third instance of kelal gadol opens Shabbat chapter 7. Is it mere coincidence that these two “great principles” both appear in the seventh chapters of tractates dealing with Shabbat and the Sabbatical year, observed respectively on the seventh day and the seventh year?
  • 12 The law of bi’ur is designed to ensure parity between man and beast in consumption of seventh-year produce, inasmuch as humans are forbidden from retaining in their homes any produce unavailable in the fields for beasts. The two complementary principles at the beginning of chapter 7 serve as backdrop for a mishnah in Niddah Chapter 6 (see above, n. 4): “Whatever is subject to bi’ur is subject to shevi’it, but there are those that are subject to shevi’it but not to bi’ur” (Niddah 6:4).
  • 13 See, for example, m. Peah 1:6.

מסכת מעשרות פרק א

א,א כלל אמרו במעשרות: כל שהוא אוכל, ונשמר, וגידוליו מן הארץ–חייב במעשרות. ועוד כלל אחר אמרו: כל שתחילתו אוכל, וסופו אוכל–אף על פי שהוא שומרו להוסיף אוכל, חייב קטן וגדול; וכל שאין תחילתו אוכל, אבל סופו אוכל–אינו חייב, עד שייעשה אוכל.

א,ב מאימתיי פירות חייבין במעשרות: התאנים, משיבחילו. הענבים והאובשים, משיבאישו. האוג והתותים, משיאדימו; וכל האדומים, משיאדימו. הרימונים, משיימסו. התמרים, משיטילו שאור. הפרסקין, משיטילו גידין. האגוזין, משיעשו מגורה; רבי יהודה אומר, האגוזין והשקדים, משיעשו קליפה.

א,ג החרובין, משיינקדו; וכל השחורים, משיינקדו. האגסים והקרוסטומלין הפרישין והעוזררין, משייקרחו; וכל הלבנים, משייקרחו. התלתן, כדי שתצמח. התבואה והזיתים, משיכניסו שליש.

א,ד ובירק: הקישואים, והדלועים, האבטיחים, והמלפפונות, והתפוחים, והאתרוגים–חייבים גדולים וקטנים; רבי שמעון פוטר את האתרוגין בקוטנן. החייב בשקדים המרים, פטור במתוקים; החייב במתוקים, פטור במרים.

א,ה איזה הוא גורנן של מעשרות: הקישואים והדלועים, משיפקס; אם אינו מפקס, עד שיעמיד ערימה. האבטיח, משישלק; אם אינו משלק, עד שיעשה מוקצה. הירק הנאגד, משיאגוד; אם אינו אוגד, משימלא את הכלי; אם אינו ממלא את הכלי, עד שילקוט כל צורכו. כלכלה, משיחפה; אם אינו מחפה, עד שימלא את הכלי; אם אינו ממלא את הכלי, עד שילקוט כל צורכו. במה דברים אמורים, במוליך לשוק. אבל במוליך לביתו–אוכל מהן עראי, עד שהוא מגיע לביתו.

א,ו הפרד והצימוקים והחרובין, משיעמיד ערימה. הבצלים, משיפקל; אם אינו מפקל, עד שיעמיד ערימה. התבואה, משימרח; אם אינו ממרח, עד שיעמיד ערימה. הקטנייות, משיכבור; אם אינו כובר, עד שימרח. אף על פי שמירח, נוטל מן הקוטעין ומן הצדדין וממה שבתוך התבן, ואוכל.

א,ז היין, משיקפה; אף על פי שקפה, קולט מן הגת העליונה ומן הצינור ומכל מקום, ושותה. השמן, משירד לעוקה. אף על פי שירד, נוטל מן העקל ומן הממל ומבין הפסין, ונותן לחמיטה ולתמחוי; אבל לא ייתן לקדירה וללפס, כשהן מרותחין. רבי יהודה אומר, לכל הוא נותן, חוץ מדבר שיש בו חומץ וציר.

א,ח העיגול, משיחליקנו. מחליקין בתאנים ובענבים של טבל; רבי יהודה אוסר. המחליק בענבים, לא הוכשר; רבי יהודה אומר, הוכשר. הגרוגרות, משידוש; והמגורה, משיעגל. היה דש בחבית ומעגל במגורה, נשברה החבית ונפחתה המגורה–לא יאכל מהן עראי; רבי יוסי מתיר.