Maaser Sheni Hides

Maaser Sheni (1:3) | Yisrael Bankier | 5 months ago

The second maaser (tithe) in the first, second, fourth and fifth year of the shemittah cycle is maaser sheni. That produce should be taken to Yerushalaim and consumed there. One however can transfer the kedusha onto money instead and use it to purchase food in yerushalaim to be eaten there. We have learnt that ideally the money should be used to purchases a korban shelamim. The Mishnah (1:3) teaches that if one purchased a korban shelamim or a chaya (wild animal that cannot be used as a korban) then the hides do not have kedushat maaser sheni, despite maaser sheni money being used to purchase the entire animal. If it had kedusha, one would need to purchase more food equal to the value of the hide and treat that food like maaser sheni. In this case, one need not be concerned. The same is true for the wool of a lamb and jugs containing wine. We shall try to understand why.

The Yerushalmi cites Ben Bagbag who explains that the law is derived from a pasuk. After the Torah explains that "you may spend your money on whatever your soul desires" it continues "for cattle, for flocks, for wine..." This law is derived from this otherwise seemingly superfluous list of food. The Yerushalmi continues that if either the buyer or seller where experts in hides, then it would be considered as if the hides were sold separately from the meat with maaser sheni money. In that case, the law is the same as purchasing non-edible items with maaser sheni money and one would then need to purchase other food equal to that value.

R' Zeira continues that the next Mishnah supports his position. The Mishnah differentiates between whether jugs of wine are sold sealed or open. When sold sealed, then jugs purchased along with the wine is considered chulin, much like the hides in our Mishnah. If however jugs of wine are sold open, such that the purchaser can pour the wine into their own containers, then if the jug was also purchased, the purchaser is intentionally doing so and the jug's value would have kedushat maaser sheni. Consequently, we find that when the purchaser is focused on the hide or jug, then they are considered as being purchased independently with maaser sheni money.

The Gra comments that for an expert, even in a location where the jugs are sold sealed, the jugs would be considered sold independently and have kedusha.

The Rash Sirilio comments that when the jugs of wine are sold sealed, it is considered as if the jugs are purchased "behavlaah". In other words, one price is given for everything. The jugs are not specifically purchased with the maaser sheni money yet included in the sale and therefore do not have kedusha. What is the relationship between the concept of havlaah and Ben Bagbag's textual derivation?

The Mishnah Rishona explains that the pasuk cited by Ben Bagbag, is needed for the case of an expert. For anyone else, it is clear that the jug or hide would be chulin considering that they are not really being considered as part of the sale -- it is considered more like a gift. Consequently, a pasuk appears unnecessary. An expert however, understands the value of the hide and will include its value in his calculation. As we have explained, the hide would not be considered chulin as a result. Normally one is not allowed to use maaser sheni money to purchase items that are not food. Consequently, the novelty of the pasuk is that the expert is still allowed to purchase the animal or jug of wine with maaser sheni money behavlaah -- if both are in a single sale. He cites the Tosfot (Menachot 82) as maintaining this explanation.

The Mishnah Rishona however cites Rashi (Eiruvin) who understands that the pasuk is indeed needed for non-experts. Despite the fact that the jug or hide is not the focus of the sale, the price will undoubtably be greater because of them. Consequently, the pasuk is necessary to teach that they nevertheless will not have kedushat maaser sheni. According to this understanding, the pasuk is not just permitting the sale, but also the hide. This then fits more closely with the Rash Sirilio above. In other words, for a regular person, the hide is chulin, not because it is considered gifted, but rather because it was purchased behavlaah, and the pasuk teaches that in that case, the hide or jug does not take the kedushat maaser sheni.

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