Redemption of Ma'aser Sheni

Maaser Sheni | Yehuda Gottlieb | 16 years ago

In the p’sukim that detail the chiyuv of Ma’aser Sheni the Torah states:

If the road will be too long for you, so that you will not be able to carry it…then you may exchange it for money…and go to the place that Hashem, your G-d, will choose. (Devarim 14:24-25)

These p’sukim describe the pidyon (redemption) process of Ma’aser Sheni produce. The p’sukim indicate that only money can be used to redeem Ma’aser Sheni.

This view is supported by the Gemara in Masechet Kiddushin (5a). The Gemara seems to indicate, through a kal vachomer that in all cases money has a more stringent side than a shtar in the laws of kiddushin due to the fact that it is only through money that Hekdesh and Ma’aser Sheni are redeemed. Rashi comments on this Gemara that if a shtar was written out to the Gizbar of the Beit Ha’Mikdash, detailing the money that will be used for redemption, then the Ma’aser Sheni or Hekdesh would not be redeemed, due to the fact that only money can affect redemption due to a Gzeirat Ha’katuv.

It seems to be clear from his explanation that Rashi views that this shtar as described in the Gemara, is a Shtar Hitchayvut (contract that implies a future obligation). This future obligation is that one must, at a certain point in time, pay a certain amount of money- however- at present he is not giving over any money. This must be the case, for otherwise, we would be able to view the contract as if it was worth money (comparable to a cheque -which is viewed as if it is money).

The Rashba disagrees with the explanation of Rashi, and instead views the shtar in the case of the Gemara as a shtar kinyan (contract of acquisition). The Rashba states that the reason that this shtar does not affect the redemption of Ma’aser Sheni or Hekdesh is because it only affects the acquisition of the produce and not the actual redemption.12

The Sefer HaMakneh differs in his understanding of Rashi’s opinion. He holds that Rashi, like the Rashba, is also describing a shtar kinyan. According to this opinion - there is a problem, for if Rashi is describing a shtar that is only needed to affect acquisition, why does he include the detailing the money to be given over? As a shtar kinyan (contract of acquisition) the reference to the monetary amount is superfluous!

In order to answer this question, R’ Chaim Brisker introduces a novel idea (chiddush) which changes the normative perception of the process of redemption of Ma’aser Sheni and Hekdesh. R’ Chaim states that in order to affect redemption, one must have both a kinyan and a monetary amount with which the produce can be redeemed. Similarly, it is not enough to only redeem Ma’aser Sheni or Hekdesh on money; one must do a kinyan as well. Therefore, the question can be answered - if we understand that Rashi is talking about a shtar kinyan, we must say that the reason that an amount must be detailed is because that is how the redemption process occurs – one must make a kinyan and use money to redeem one’s Ma’aser Sheni or Hekdesh.


12: The Rashba also maintains that the monetary amount that one is redeeming must also be detailed. However, that fact is external to the actual body of the shtar, which is to be used, in his opinion, to affect an acquisition.

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