Maasrot, Chapter One, Mishnah Five

 

Introduction

This mishnah begins dealing with the issue of when produce become liable for tithes (see introduction). The mishnah calls this a “threshing floor” because at the threshing floor grain becomes liable for tithes. By extension, all produce is liable for tithes once its processing has been completed. After this point it is prohibited to eat even a chance meal from this produce without tithing it. Before this point one can eat a “chance meal” without tithing, but not a “fixed meal,” one which is more formal.

 

Mishnah Five

What is considered a “threshing floor” for tithes [i.e. when does produce become liable for tithes]?  

1)      Cucumbers and gourds [are liable for tithes] once he removes their fuzz.

a)      And if he doesn’t remove it, once he makes a pile.

2)      Melons once he removes the fuzz with hot water.  

a)      And if they he does not remove the fuzz, once he stores them in the muktzeh.  

3)      Vegetables which are tied in bundles, from the time he ties them up in bundles.

a)      If he does not tie them up in bundles, until he fills the vessel with them.

b)      And if he does not fill the vessel, after he has gathered all that he wishes to gather.

4)      [Produce which is packed in] a basket [is liable for tithes] after he has covered it.

a)      If he is not going to cover it, until he fills the vessel with them.

b)      And if he does not fill the vessel, after he has gathered all that he wishes to gather.

5)      When does this apply? When one brings [the produce] to the market.
But when he brings it to his own house, he may make a chance meal of it, until he reaches his house.

 

Explanation

Sections one and two:  The processing of cucumbers, gourds and melons is completed once the owner removes the “fuzz”, some very fine hair, that is on them. After that point, they are liable for tithes. If he doesn’t intend to remove the fuzz, then the processing is complete once he has made them into a pile, or once he has stored them in the “muktzeh” a storage area behind the house.

Sections three and four: Vegetables which are usually tied up in bundles in order to be brought to market, are liable for tithes as soon as they are tied up in bundles. Similarly, produce which is usually stored in baskets is liable to be tithed once it is put in a basket. In both cases, these are the final stages in their preparation. If he doesn’t intend to do this stage, either tying up in bundles or covering them in a basket, then they are liable for tithes once he has filled up a vessel with them, a vessel which he will use to bring the vegetables to the market. Finally, if he isn’t going to even put them in a vessel at all, then they are liable for tithes as soon as he has gathered a sufficient amount that it is worth it for him to bring the produce to the market. Note that if the last normal stage is not going to happen, then the previous stage becomes the completing stage.

Section five: The rules in the above sections apply only when he is going to take the produce to the market. In such a situation, this processing is relevant. However, if he is intending to take the produce home, then the produce is not liable for tithes until he brings it into his house. He may make a “chance meal” from the produce until he brings it home.

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