Maasrot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Ten



This mishnah deals with the situation in which the trunk of a tree is found in one type of domain but its branches hang over into another.


Mishnah Ten

1)      A fig tree which stands in a courtyard, and hangs over into a garden: one may eat in his customary fashion and be exempt [from tithes].

2)      If it stands in the garden and hangs over into the courtyard, one may eat [the figs] one at a time and be exempt, but if he gathers them together, he is liable [for tithes].

3)      If it stands in the land [of Israel] and hangs over [into the territory] outside the land, or if it stands outside the land, and hangs over into the land, [in all these cases the law is] decided according to the position of the root.  

4)      And as regards houses in walled cities, everything is decided according to the position of the root.  

5)      But as regards cities of refuge, everything is decided [also] according to the location of the branches.  

6)      And in what concerns Jerusalem, everything is decided by the location of the branches.



Section one: When it comes to tithes, what matters is where the branches are, because that is where the fruit is. So if it stands in the courtyard, but the fruit is on branches hanging over into the garden, then he may eat from the tree without tithing.

Section two: The opposite is also true—if the tree is in the garden but the branches hang over into the courtyard, then he can only eat one fig at a time. Since the branches are in the courtyard, the fruit is liable for tithes.

Section three: Only fruit that is grown on a tree entirely within the land of Israel is liable for tithes. The location of the tree is determined by its trunk. In this case it matters not where the fruit is, but rather, where the tree, i.e. the trunk, is.

Section four: According to Leviticus 25:29-31, houses that are sold within a walled city can be redeemed by the seller for one year. If they are not redeemed within the year then permanent title belongs to the purchaser. According to the rabbis, the same rule applies to trees sold within a walled city. In this case the tree’s location within or outside the walled city is determined by its roots. Again, what is determinant is the location of the tree and not the fruit, as was the case with tithes in sections one and two, and therefore, its location follows its root.

Section five: Accidental murderers are supposed to flee to one of the cities of refuge. Once there the blood avenger can no longer kill them, and if he does so he is liable for murder. In this case, the location of the tree follows that of the branches. If the blood avenger kills him under the branches which are inside the borders of the refuge city, the blood avenger is guilty of murder, but if the branches are outside the city, he is exempt.

Section six: Second tithe is to be brought to Jerusalem, but if one wants, it is permitted to exchange it for money outside of Jerusalem and then bring the money to Jerusalem and use it to buy food there. It is impossible, however, to redeem food that is already in Jerusalem. In this case the status of the tree is determined by the branches, which is where the fruit is located. If the branches are located within Jerusalem, then the produce cannot be redeemed and it must be eaten in the city. If the trunk is within the walls of the city but the branches are outside, then it is permitted to redeem the produce and use the money to buy food.