The Chumrot of Beit Hillel

Eduyot (4:5) | Yisrael Bankier | 6 years ago

The fourth perek lists the debates between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel where Beit Hillel take the more stringent position. The fifth Mishnah records the debate regarding Kerem Revai. One is not allowed to eat from a fruit tree during its first three years. Fruit from the fourth year must be taken to Yerushalaim and eaten there. One is able redeemed the fruit with money and purchase food in Yerushalaim to ease the transport burden. This law applies to fruit tress (Neta Revai) and grapevines (Kerem Revai).

Thus far Kerem Revai sound much like Maaser Sheni – the second tithes separated on the first, second, fourth and fifth years of the shmittahcycle. Whether is shares more of laws with Maaser Sheni is the subject of debate. Beit Hillel maintains that the obligation to add chomesh (25% of the value) when redeeming it with money and the obligation to remove it (biur) erev Pesach in the fourth and seventh years also applies to Kerem Revai. These are indeed chumrot. Beit Hillel however adds that just like Maaser Sheni, it is consider mamon gavoah (heavenly property) and exempt from peret and olelot, which are usually left for the poor. At first glance Beit Hillel appears to be taking the lenient position that does not fit in with the theme of this perek.

The Tosfot Yom Tov cites the Raavad that explains that while it is a leniency for the property owner, it is a stringency with respect to the poor. The Tosfot Chadashim raises a difficulty with reframing it this way. In the previous Mishnah where Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel argue regarding a case related to shichecha (another gift to the poor) and Beit Hillel rules that it must be left for the poor and it is understood the Beit Hillel ruling stringently. The logic applied in our case appears to be reversed.

The Tosfot Chadashim suggest that in our case even though the owner may keep the peret and olelot this is because, as we have explained, it is considered mamon gavoah. That itself entails a stringency - it cannot be used for kidushin (betrothal) as it is not considered the person’s property. The Tifferet Yisrael however asks that if one tried to use it in kidushin, Beit Shammai would be more stringent as he would say the woman is betrothed and forbidden to marry another man. Nevertheless the Tifferet Yisrael list many other chumorat that apply if we consider Kerem Revai as being mamon gavoah. Even though there might be some leniencies, the very fact that it is kadosh according to Beit Hillel is the chumrah.

The Shoshanim Le’David however attempts to defend the Raavad by differentiating between this case and the case of shichecha. In the case of shichecha if it belonged to the Baal HaBayit then it is his without any extra effort. In our case however, if the peret and olelot belong to the Baal Habayit it is still Kerem Revai and he must either take it or the money used to redeem it to Yerushalaim. Considerations of stringency and leniency are finer with respect to the owner and are therefore shifted to the ani.

The Chidushei Mahariach directs us to the Tosfot Yom Tov in Peah (7:6). He cites the Rambam who rules (as with Maaser Sheni) that one is obligated to press the grapes first before redeeming it or taking it to Yerushalaim. The Tosfot Yom Tov asserts that this explains Beit Hillel’s language that “it all goes to the press”. According to Beit Shammai, the peret and olelot can be given straight to the poor for them to press. The Chidushei Mahariach explains that is a chumrah for Beit Hillel in that the Baal Habayit is obligated to press even the peret and olelot.

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