Potted Plants and Ma’asrot

Demai (5:10) | Yisrael Bankier | 14 years ago

The Mishnah (5:10) teaches that if produce grows in a pot, provided that the pot has a hole at the base (atzitz nakuv), it is no different to the produce that grew in the ground – there is a biblical obligation to separate *trumot u’ma’asrot.*If however there is no hole in the base of the pot (atzitz she’eino nakuv), then there is a rabbinic obligation to separate trumot u’ma’asrot

One difficultly arises when trying to separate trumah from produce that grew in an atzitz she’eino nakuv to satisfy the quantity required for separating from produce that grew in atzitz nakuv. The reason is that one cannot separate trumah from produce that is exempt from any tithing (chulin) for produce that requires it. This case would be violating this rule because on a biblical level the atzitz she’eino nakuv is exempt. The Mishnah rules that what is separated is treated as trumah. Nevertheless, because such a separation is invalid, trumah must still be separated for the produce that grew in the atzitz nakuv.1 

The second case brought is where one separates from an atzitz nakuv to satisfy for an atzitz she’eino nakuv as well. One a biblical level, this is similar to case where one tries to separate from produce that is chayav for other produce that is exempt for trumot. Consequently the “trumah” is really tevel as the separation was meaningless on a biblical level. In that case, even though it is given to the kohen, trumat and ma’asrot would need to be separated before the kohen can eat it.2

The Tosfot (Yevamot 89b) bring a debate regarding that which was handed to the kohen in this second case. The Rivan understands that is not trumah at all – it is tevel! The Mishnah refers to it as being trumah simply because it belongs to the kohen. The Ri however understand that it must be treated as being trumah mi’d’rabbanan because on a rabbinic level it nevertheless satisfies the requirement for separating trumah for the atzitz she’eino nakuv (albeit on a rabbinic level).   

The point made by the Ri leads us into a discussion regarding the status of the atzitz she’eino nakuv for which the trumah was separated. Rashi (Yevamot 89b) explains that since the obligation to separate from it was d’rabbanan (rabbinic) and trumah was separated (from the atzitz nakuv) nothing further is required. This fits with the understanding of the Ri. How would the Rivash then view the remaining produce from the atzitz she’eino nakuv?  

There are two understandings brought by the Meiri(Kidushin 46b) that can possibly be applied to the Rivash.3 The first is that the separation was not effective for the atzitz she’eino nakuv either and trumah would also need to be separated from it.  Nothing was achieved. The second understanding is that even though that which is handed to the kohen is not even trumah mi’d’rabbanan, because the requirement to separate trumah was instituted by the Rabbanan, they did not require any further separation in this case. 

1 If the original separation is meaningly why then is it treated as trumah? The Bartenura explains that this a gezeira to prevent people for treating trumah lightly. “Now it is trumah; now it is not.” R’ Akiva Eiger asks that there is a simpler reason: the separation was affective for the produce atzitz she’eino nakuv so it should be considered trumah on a rabbinic level. He suggest that since the separation the original separation was with the intent that it would be affect for the atzitz nakuv as well and this fail, that hafrasha is not affective even for the atzitz she’eino nakuv.

2 Whether trumot and ma’asrot are separated from that which is given to the kohen or from some other tevel to satisfy the requirement is a subject of debate. See the commentaries on the Mishnah.

3 This is based on the understanding presented in Yalkut Biurim, Yevamot 89b, footnote 7, Metivta.


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