Maasrot, Chapter One, Mishnah Eight



The final mishnah of our chapter deals with figs.


Mishnah Eight

1)      A cake of pressed figs [is liable for tithes] from the moment it has been smoothed out [with fruit juice].  

2)      They may smooth them out with [the juice of] untithed figs or grapes.

a)      Rabbi Judah forbids this.

3)      If one smoothed with grapes, it is not susceptible to uncleanness.

a)      Rabbi Judah says it is susceptible.  

4)      Dried figs [are liable to tithe] after they have been pressed [into a jar]. And [figs] stored in a bin [are liable to tithe] after they have been pressed.

5)      If one was pressing [the figs] into a jar, or pressing them in a storage bin, and the jar was broken or the storage bin opened, he may not make a chance meal of them.

a)      Rabbi Yose permits this. 



Section one: The final step in processing a cake of pressed figs was to smooth it out using fruit juice. Once this step has occurred, one cannot eat the figs without tithing them.

Section two: As an aside, the mishnah now discusses several halakhot connected to the smoothing out of fig cakes. First of all, there is the issue of whether the fruit juice itself must come from tithed produce. According to the first opinion, it need not because the juice that comes out from the grapes or figs is not treated like the grapes or figs itself.  Since the untithed figs or grapes do not directly come into contact with the fig cake, using juice from them before they are tithed is not a problem.

Rabbi Judah disagrees and holds that that the juice that flows from the grapes or figs is treated like the grapes or figs themselves and therefore it must be tithed.

Section three: A correlated dispute is with regard to whether juice from grapes or figs causes other produce to be susceptible to uncleanness. According to the first opinion, there are only seven liquids that cause other produce to be susceptible to uncleanness (dew, water, wine, oil, blood, milk, and bee honey) and juice is not among them (see Terumot 11:2). Rabbi Judah adds fruit juice to this list.

Section four: Dried figs are liable once they have been pressed into a jar and if they are going to be pressed into a storage bin, then once they have been pressed there into the bin.

Section five: The issue at stake here is whether something that has already become liable for tithes can go back to a state where one can eat from it without tithing. Once the figs were pressed into the jar or storage bin they became liable for tithes. When the jar or bin breaks, he is going to have to put them in another jar or bin—they are now in a state of uncompleted processing. According to the first opinion in the mishnah, once they have become liable for tithes, one cannot go back to eating them without tithing them, no matter what happens. Rabbi Yose holds that they do revert to their previous status because at this point, their processing is no longer completed.