Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Nedarim 58: On Tithing and Shemita

The conversation regarding Sabbatical year produce - and other items that change status over time, like teruma.  How will the rabbis help us determine whether or not an item is truly permitted?  For example, a sixth year onion might not sprout until shemita.  Is it permitted, as it was growth of the sixth year, or is it forbidden, as it is current growth?

We learn that these particular plants are called chayasot, plants with bulbs like arum, garlic and onions.  The rabbis consider many factors, from colour of leaves to easily uprooted bulbs, which might 'neutralize the prohibition' that forbids the consumption of sixth year produce.  Similar questions are asked about the eighth year; growth that one might benefit from on the year following shemita when nothing is intentionally planted.  In their questioning, the rabbis consider Samaritans who weed with Jews and Jews who are already suspect regarding their observance of shemita.

A note tells us that Jews and Samaritans rarely interacted, but a possible scenario could arise where a Jew worked for a Samaritan and the meal in question was permitted, untithed by a Samaritan, because it would be a casual meal.  Further, the Jew might be paid via this produce.

Our daf ends with a deeper discussion of weeding, the ground as prohibited versus the fruit as prohibited, and tithing when a litra of tithe (not separated from the teruma of the tithe) has been sown until it has grown to ten litra.  

The intricacy of the laws of teruma and tithing is so finely woven that I can imagine hours and hours being spent on assessing the exact amounts required.  How exhausting, knowing that G-d's goodwill depends upon one's efforts to perfect this gift.

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