Maasrot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Five

 

Introduction

Bringing produce into a house causes it to become liable for tithes. Under certain circumstances, bringing the produce into a courtyard can also make it liable for tithes. In our mishnah five (!) tannaim debate what type of courtyard makes produce liable for tithes. The general principle is clear: if the courtyard is protected it makes the food liable for tithes because it is like a house.

 

Mishnah Five

Which courtyard is it which makes [the produce] liable to tithe?  

1)      Rabbi Ishmael says: the Tyrian yard for the vessels are protected therein.

2)      Rabbi Akiva says: any courtyard which one person may open and another may shut is exempt.

3)      Rabbi Nehemiah says: any courtyard in which a man is not ashamed to eat is liable.

4)      Rabbi Yose says: any courtyard into which a person may enter and no one says to him, “what are you looking for” is exempt.  

5)      Rabbi Judah says: if there are two courtyards one within the other, the inner one makes liable and the outer one is exempt.

 

Explanation

Section one: Both talmudim explain that a guard sits outside of the Tyrian courtyard and protects it. Since this courtyard is protected, food brought into it is liable for tithes—the courtyard is like a house. 

Section two: If two people share a courtyard, and when one person opens up the courtyard, the other is the one who closes it, then this courtyard is not well protected. Since it is not well-protected, produce that is brought into it is not liable for tithes.

Section three: In mishnaic times it was considered impolite or uncultured to eat in public. If the courtyard into which the produce was brought was closed off enough so that a person would eat in it, then the produce is liable for tithes. But if a person wouldn’t eat there, then the produce is not liable.

Section four: If no one says anything to a stranger who enters into a courtyard, then it is not protected and produced brought into it is not liable for tithes.

Section five: In the case of two courtyards, the inner one, the one closer to the house, makes the produce liable to be tithed because it is relatively well-guarded and those from the outer courtyard cannot enter into the inner courtyard. In contrast, the outer courtyard, through which the people who live in the inner courtyard can walk, is less-guarded and food brought into it is not liable for tithes.   

 

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