Maasrot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Two

 

Introduction

Our mishnah continues to deal with people who receive figs from passersby (I’d like to receive figs from passersby, but I guess people aren’t as nice as they used to be) and with the question of whether they can eat the figs before they tithe them.

 

Mishnah Two

1)      If they were sitting at the gate or a shop, and one said [to them], “Take for yourselves figs,” they may eat and be exempt from tithes, but the owner of the gate, or the owner of the shop, is liable [to give tithe].

2)      Rabbi Judah exempts him unless he turns his face or changes the place where he was sitting [and selling].

 

Explanation

Section one: Except for the owners, the people sitting at the gate or inside the shop can eat the figs without tithing them because the gate and the shop don’t belong to them. When we learned that once food is brought into one’s home it cannot be eaten before it is tithed, that meant one’s own home. Since these people didn’t own the gate or the shop, the figs are not liable for tithes for them. However, the owners of the gate and the shop have had the tithes brought into their homes (or at least a building owned by them), and therefore they can’t eat until they tithe.

Section two: Rabbi Judah holds that a gate and a shop do not make food liable for tithes because it wasn’t considered decent to eat in such places. People would be embarrassed to eat there because people generally didn’t eat in public places. So if he nevertheless eats in one of those places, he need not tithe before he eats. However, if he turns around so that they don’t see him eating, or he moves to another place within the gate or shop where he won’t be embarrassed to eat, then he must tithe before he eats the figs.    

 

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