Maaser Sheni, Chapter Five, Mishnah Two



As we learned in the introduction to yesterday’s mishnah, during the fourth year of its growth, the produce of a vineyard or an orchard must be brought to Jerusalem and eaten there. Our mishnah teaches that produce that grew more than a day’s journey from Jerusalem can be redeemed, like maaser sheni. The money would then be brought to Jerusalem and used to buy food there.


Mishnah Two

1)      [The produce of] a vineyard in its fourth year was brought up to Jerusalem within a distance of one day’s journey on each side.

2)      And what is the border [of a day’s journey on each side]? Eilat to the south, Akrabat on the north, Lod to the west, and the Jordan [river] to the east.  

3)      When produce increased, it was decreed that it can be redeemed even if the vineyard was close to the wall.

4)      And there was a stipulation on this matter, that whenever it was so desired, the arrangement would be restored as it had been before.  

5)      Rabbi Yose says: this was the stipulation after the Temple was destroyed, and the stipulation was that when the Temple should be rebuilt the arrangement would be restored as it had been before. 



Section one: Within a day’s walk on each side of Jerusalem, produce from fourth-year vineyards and orchards would be taken to Jerusalem and not redeemed.

Section two: “Eilat” in the Mishnah is of course, not modern Eilat, which is far more than a one day’s journey from Jerusalem. Some scholars say mishnaic Eilat was near Hebron.

Section three:  According to the mishnah, the rule that produce within a day’s walk from Jerusalem had to be brought to Jerusalem and could not be redeemed referred to a time when produce was scarce. At that time, to encourage people to bring their produce to Jerusalem, they wouldn’t allow people who lived close to Jerusalem to redeem it. Once produce became more plentiful, they began to allow people to redeem the produce even right next to the walls of Jerusalem.

Section four: When they changed the rule, they made a stipulation that whenever they wished to change the law back to its original state, they could do so. Interestingly, this implies that without this stipulation, it would have been difficult to change the law. In order to make the law flexible, they had to include in it a special stipulation that when they wanted to, they could change it again.

Section five: Rabbi Yose relates a different version concerning when the law changed. When the Temple was destroyed they changed the law to allow one to redeem produce even right outside the walls of Jerusalem. At that time, they made a stipulation that when the Temple was rebuilt, it would again be forbidden to redeem fourth-year produce (and by extension, maaser sheni) within one day’s journey from Jerusalem.