Maaser Sheni, Chapter Five, Mishnah Twelve

 

Introduction

And more midrash….

 

Mishnah Twelve

1)      “I have not eaten from it in my mourning (oni)”— thus, if he had eaten it in his mourning (aninut), he cannot make the confession.

2)      “Neither have I removed any of it when unclean” — thus, if he had removed it in uncleanness he cannot make the confession.

3)      “And I have not given any of it to the dead”— I have not used any of it for a coffin or shrouds for the dead, and I have not given any of it to other mourners.

4)      “I have listened to the voice of the Lord my God” — I have brought it to the chosen house.

5)      “I have done just as you commanded me — I have rejoiced and made others rejoice.

 

Explanation

Section one: The word for mourning used here is “oni” in the Torah, and “aninut” in the midrashic explanation. This is not the full seven day period of mourning but the day that one of a person’s close relatives die. If one of a person’s seven close relatives dies, then he/she is an onen on that day and is not allowed to eat holy things, such as terumah, maaser sheni or sacrifices. After the day is over and the body has been buried the person can eat terumah and maaser sheni, as long as he is ritually pure. If he ate of it while he was an onen, he can’t make the confession.

Section two: The removal must be done in a state of purity because if he removes it while impure, he will cause the produce to become impure. If he did the removal while impure, he can’t recite the confession.

Section three: The Torah cryptically (pun intended) states, “I have not given any of it to the dead.” Tigay (JPS Commentary on Deuteronomy, p. 244) explains that this originally meant “to feed their spirits…The ancients believed that the living can assist the spirits of the dead in Sheol by providing them with food and drink.” The rabbis do not seem familiar with this concept and therefore they interpret it to mean that one cannot use maaser sheni money to aid the dead in practical ways, either by using the money to buy a coffin or shrouds, or by giving the money to other mourners (onenim) so that they could use the money for their dead.

Section four: “The Chosen House” refers to all of Jerusalem and not just the Temple. The confessor states that he has brought the maaser sheni to the city of Jerusalem so that he could eat it there.

Section five: Deuteronomy 14:26-27 stipulates that when a person comes to Jerusalem he should rejoice and cause others to rejoice. The midrash in our mishnah reads this mitzvah into the confession.

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