In the final perek of Masechet Maaser Sheni we learn about both biur and vidui maaserot. We learn that on the final day of Pesach in the fourth and seventh years of the Shemitta cycle, one confesses or declares that all the various gifts have been given in the correct manner. The text of vidui maaserot is written in the Torah (Devarim 26:12-15) and the Mishnah (5:10-14) learns several laws from its details. In many instances, if one of these details were not observed, the Mishnah teaches that it would prevent one from reciting vidui maaserot.
One detail the Mishnah (5:11) learns is from the word “lo shachti” - I did not forget. The Mishnah understands that this means that one did not forget to recite a beracha “and mention your name on it”. The Bartenura explains that this refers to the beracha recited prior to separating teruma, maaser rishon, maaser shen or maaser ani, redeeming maaser sheni and separating challah. The Tifferet Yisrael notes that what appears to be a derivation from this pasuk is an asmachta. In other words, the law is not derived from the pasuk but rather the Chachamim associate their law with the verse. The reason is that berachot (except for one or two) are rabbinic.
Rashi comments on the pasuk that it means “I did not forget to praise you when separating maaserot”. The Mizrachi comments that Rashi means simply praising and blessing Hashem when separating maaserot. The actual beracha however was instituted by the Anshei Knesset HaGedola and therefore not referred to by Rashi’s comment.
The Tosfot Yom Tov finds the Mizrachi’s comment difficult. The reason is that we find our Mishnah cited as proof in the debate between Rav and R’ Yochanan found in Gemara Berachot (40b) regarding the fundamental components of a beracha. Rav understands that it must mention Hashem’s name, while R’ Yochanan adds that it also requires a mention of Hashem’s malchut (kingship). The Gemara understands that a simple reading of our Mishnah lends support to the position of Rav. The Tosfot Yom Tov therefore understands that the Gemara views our Mishnah’s discussion on a rabbinic level. Consequently, he understands Rashi’s comment, as we explained earlier, as a reference to the asmachta.1
Consequently, there are two understandings of our Mishnah. One, is that the requirement of reciting a beracha prior to separating maaserot is solely rabbinic. Alternatively, while the formulation of a beracha is rabbinic, there is a still a biblical requirement here to praise Hashem when separating maaserot.
We see these two understandings present themselves with respect to another question. Can one still recite vidui maaserot if they did not recite a beracha? The Tifferet Yisrael understands that it would not prevent one from reciting vidui maaserot. This is consistent with his understanding that the derivation in our Mishnah is an asmachta. The Minchat Chinnuch (607:15) however writes that it appears that if one did not mention some praise, then he would not be able to recite vidui maaserot. This is consistent with the opinion of the Mizrachi. The Chazon Ish (Demai 2:6) however understands that even if one simply forgot to recite the beracha he would not be able to recite vidui maaserot. He also appears to understand the pasuk like the Mizrachi. Even though the text of the beracha is rabbinic, he explains after the fact that it was instituted he would not be able to say “I did not forget” without it.2
1 See the Pnei Yehoshua for one answer to this question.
2 To explain, perhaps this means that once the Anshei Keneset HaGedola instituted a beracha, it is this text specifically that becomes the sole fulfilment of the requirement to praise Hashem when separating maaserot.
Receive our publication with an in depth article and revision questions.
Listen to the new Mishnah Shiurim by Yisrael Bankier