Terumot, Chapter Four, Mishnah Ten



Yesterday’s mishnah ended with a note that Rabbi Joshua was more lenient than Rabbi Eliezer. Today we learn that in a different, yet similar case, Rabbi Joshua was more stringent.


Mishnah Ten

But in this, Rabbi Eliezer is more lenient and Rabbi Joshua more stringent.

One was pressing a litra of dried figs [of terumah] into a jar and he didn’t know which:

a)      Rabbi Eliezer says: they are to be regarded as if they were separated, so that those below can bring up those above.

b)      Rabbi Joshua says: it cannot be brought up unless there are a hundred jars.



In mishnaic times they used to make cakes of figs by pressing the figs into a jar. The jar would be filled up layer by layer, each layer being an individual cake. In the case in our mishnah someone pressed a liter of terumah figs into the top of a jar that already had 100 liters of non-terumah figs. He then forgot which jar he put the figs into, and there were a number of jars there. The question is: can the figs on the bottom of the jar join with the figs on the top of the jar to make a 100-1 ratio, in which case he can take out one liter of figs and then eat the rest as hullin? Or are we stricter because we know that the terumah figs are on top of one of the jars and the figs on the bottoms of the jars are certainly not terumah?

According to Rabbi Eliezer we can look at the figs in the jar as if they are separated, meaning they are loose in the jar. This way we can look at the bottom figs as if they are mixed in with the top figs and if there are 100 liters of non-terumah figs in the jars, then they cancel out the one liter of terumah figs that may be on one of the jar. The difference between this situation and the situation in yesterday’s mishnah is that the white figs and black figs look different and therefore one colored fig cannot serve to “bring up” the other. In today’s case the figs look the same and even though we are certain that the bottom figs are not terumah, they count in reckoning the required 100-1 ratio.

According to Rabbi Joshua, we know that the bottom figs were not terumah, and therefore the 100-1 ratio must come from the number of jars into which the terumah figs may have been placed. There must be 100 jars into which the terumah figs might have been pressed. When it came to the white and black figs, since they were actually mixed in together, Rabbi Joshua held that they each could “bring up” the other, despite the fact that they look different.