Terumot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Five



Our mishnah deals with giving terumah from onions.


Mishnah Five

1)      They should give terumah of a whole small onion, and not of half of a large onion.  

2)      Rabbi Judah says: not so, rather half of a large onion.   

3)      So too, Rabbi Judah says: they give terumah from town onions for those from the village, but not from village onions for those from the town, since these are the food of its principal citizens. 



Section one: If one has a choice of giving either a whole small onion or half of a large onion as terumah, he should give the whole small onion. This seems to accord with what the sages said in yesterday’s mishnah, that one should give from something that will last, even though it is not the best of the produce.

Section two: Rabbi Judah holds that the large onion is of better quality and therefore it is preferable to give half of the large onion and not the small onion. [Personally, I like small onions, especially when we give them a fancy name like shallots].

Section three: The onions that grow in the town are bigger than those that grow in the village. The principal citizens (in the Mishnah the word is “politikim”—literally politicians!) eat only the big onions from their town. Hence, according to Rabbi Judah one can give from these types of onions in order to exempt the onions from the villages, but one cannot give from village onions in order to exempt the big onions. In other words, it is not just that town onions are better than village onions—the finicky people from the town won’t even eat the village onions.