Maasrot, Chapter Three, Mishnah One

 

Introduction

This mishnah continues to deal with when workers can eat their employer’s produce without first tithing it.

 

Mishnah One

1)      One who was taking figs through his courtyard to be dried, his children and the other members of his household  may eat [of them] and they are exempt [from tithes]. 

2)      The workers [who work] with him may eat and be exempt so long as he is not obliged to provide for them.

a)      If however, he is obligated to provide for them they may not eat.

 

Explanation

Section one: Once the processing of fruit has been completed and one brings the produce into one’s courtyard, one can no longer eat the produce without first tithing it. In the case in this section, the processing of the figs was not yet complete because he was on his way to dry them. Therefore, he and the rest of the members of his family can continue to eat the figs before they are dried without having to first tithe them.

Section two: The workers here are those who work for the owner of the figs, but don’t work with the figs. The Torah does not mandate that they be allowed to eat the figs, because the Torah mandates only that a worker can eat from the type of produce with which he is working, as we learned in yesterday’s mishnah.

Since these worker’s don’t eat because of the Torah’s mandate, they can eat the figs only if they are receiving them as a gift from the owner, and not as part of their wages. If he has no obligation to feed them, meaning this was not part of their contract, then he has given them the figs as a gift, and they are exempt from tithes. If, however, he was obligated to feed them, then the figs are treated as if they are wages. As we learned in the previous chapter, when produce is involved in a financial transaction it becomes obligated for tithes. Therefore, these workers must tithe before they can eat the figs.  

 

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