During the study of masechet challah similarities have been drawn between challah and trumot u’ma’asrot. A halacha brought down by the Rambam differentiates between challah and ma’asrot. The analysis of this difference reveals a lot about the nature of these mitzvot.
The Mishnah mentioned that if someone imported one of the five grains to , they would be required to separate challah from the resulting dough. (This is learnt from the following pasuk that discusses the obligation of separating challah: “…when you come to the Land that I bring you there (shamah)” (Bamidbar ).) If however one takes one of the five grains from and kneads it outside , whether or not he is obligated to separate challah is debated by the Tana’im. R’ Eliezer argues that one is obligated to separate challah while R’ Akiva argues that he is exempt (deriving this from the above quoted pasuk).
When discussing the obligation of challah in such scenarios the Rambam (Trumot ) rules according R’ Akiva in the above stated Mishnah. When discussing ma’asrot he rules that, like challah, produce exported from are exempt from separating ma’asrot. Yet the Rambam continues, if one brought produce from outside Israel to Israel and only there reached chiyuv ma’asrot, then the obligation to remove ma’asrot is only rabbinic. This differs from challah, where the obligation in the comparable case is biblical.
The exemption from separating challah and ma’asrot from produce that has been taken out of implies that Rambam is learning the exemption of trumot from the same source as the exemption from challah (“shamah”). The Kesef Mishnah therefore asks, if so, why is the obligation to separate ma’asrot from produce brought into only rabbinic and not biblical (like challah)?
The Gra”Ch explains that the derivation from the pasuk (“shamah”) is indeed shared by challah and ma’asrot. The principle derived is that the location is important when the dough or produce reaches the state where one needs to separate challah or ma’asrot. If at the point the dough or produce is inside , only then is one obligated to separate challah and ma’asrot. Ma’asrot differs from challah in that there are two stages that are essential to generate this chiyuv – for produce, reaching a third of its development and the completion of work. Both these phases must occur in for the produce to be biblically obligated to separate ma’asrot. Therefore, granted that the completion of work for imported produce may occur inside , since it reached a third of its development outside , the obligation to separate ma’asrot is only rabbinic.
The Gra”Ch continues by adding a further distinction between challah and ma’asrot. The difference lies in how their respective obligations are initiated. For challah the obligation occurs at the point that the dough is rolled, therefore the sole consideration is whether or not we have bread. For trumot however the obligation stems from the fact that the produce has grown. Completion of work is merely a technical barrier preventing the obligation from being fully expressed.
This can be used to answer the above question about the Rambam’s ruling. For challah the sole consideration is where the dough has been rolled; where the flour grew is not important. However for ma’asrot since the growth of the produce affects the obligation, the obligation to separate produce imported from outside is only rabbinic. According to this explanation the first answer is not needed since whenever produce draws substance from land outside , it is exempt from separating ma’asrot on a biblical level.
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