Maasrot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Seven

 

Introduction

This mishnah deals with huts or “sukkah” like structures and whether they render produce liable for tithes. Part of the issue here is how similar these structures are to houses, which do render produce liable for tithes.

 

Mishnah Seven

1)      Cone-shaped huts, watchtowers, and sheds in the field do not render [produce] liable.

2)      A sukkah-hut like those used in Ginnosar, even though it contains millstones and poultry, does not render [produce] liable.

3)      As for the potter’s sukkah-hut, the inner part renders [produce] liable and the outer part does not.

4)      Rabbi Yose says: anything which is not both a sunny season and rainy season dwelling does not render [produce] liable [to tithes].  

5)      A sukkah used on the Festival [of Sukkot]:

a)      Rabbi Judah says: this renders [produce] liable [for tithes]

b)      But the sages exempt.

 

Explanation

Section one: A cone-shaped hut does not have a roof and the rabbis defined houses as structures with roofs. Hence, it does not render the produce liable for tithes. While people spend time in watchtowers, they do not live in them, and therefore they are not considered houses. Neither do people live in sheds in a field—they too do not render produce liable for tithes.

Section two: Sukkah-like huts all have roofs and therefore, they might render produce liable for tithes. In Ginnosar, which is on the shores of the Galilee, people would dwell in these huts most of the year in order to guard the produce in the field. They would even bring millstones in order to grind wheat and poultry in order to have eggs and perhaps some meat. Nevertheless, since they do not live in these huts all year round, they do not cause produce to become liable for tithes.

Section three: The potter’s sukkah is divided into two parts—the inner part, which the potter and his family use for living quarters, and the outer part, where they do their work. The outer part does not count as a house and therefore, it does not make produce liable for tithes, whereas the inner part does.

Section four: Rabbi Yose clarifies that in order for a structure to count as a house it must be a structure in which people would live in both the summer and winter months. Otherwise, the produce that is brought into it does not need to be tithed. I should note that it doesn’t seem that Rabbi Yose is saying that the person must actually live there all year round. Vacation homes, if built like normal homes, would make produce liable for tithes. What he is saying is that if the house is built only to be used in one season, then it is not truly a “house” and it does not make liable for tithes.

Section five: The final section in our mishnah is concerned with the sukkah used during the holiday of Sukkot. According to Rabbi Judah, since during Sukkot the sukkah is perceived, at least by him, as a “permanent dwelling place” it does render produce liable for tithes. Although one lives there only during Sukkot, for that week it is like one’s permanent home and just as one’s home renders liable for tithes, so too does the Sukkah. The rabbis disagree and hold that it is not truly a permanent home, since one lives there for only one week.      

 

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