With the beginning of the new masechet we learnt that there are two critical points in agricultural production relevant for maaserot. The first few Mishnayot discuss onat maaserot – the point in the development where it becomes edible. From that point, on a rabbinic level, one is only allowed to eat a snack from the food. Anything more fixed would require the separation of terumot and maaserot.
We also learnt about a second stage, gemar melacha. This is the point when all the work related to the produce has been completed. We learnt if that produce was going to be sold then it is koveah – establishes an obligation to separate terumot and maaserot. Otherwise, it is koveah when it is brought into the house. We will learn about other events and circumstance that are koveah of the coming week.
In one Mishnah (1:7) we focus on pressed olives in the production of oil. In short, one can still enjoy any oil (in a snack fashion) that has not made it to the collection pool at the base of the press. The reason being is that that oil has not yet reached the point of gemar melacha. The Mishnah however adds that there are limits regarding into what this oil may be added. On the one had it can be smeared onto a hot wafer or into a serving dish, yet it cannot be added to a pot or pan, even if it has been removed from the fire.
The Bartenura explains that the reason is bishul (cooking) is koveah. As we mention, after that point, even a snack is prohibited without first separating maaserot. Consequently, a pot that was directly on the fire – a kli rishon – would be problematic since adding the oil would constituted bishul. The serving dish on the other hand is a kli sheni and adding the oil to that dish would not constitute bishul.
The Tosfot Anshei Shem however notes that the Rambam explains that once something is cooked it is no longer considered a snack. Since a more established form of eating is prohibited without first separating maaserot even prior to gemar melacha cooking the oil would be an issue.
The Tosfot Anshei Shem however cites the Rambam (Maaserot 3:3) who rules that cooking (literally ‘fire’) is only koveah after gemar melacha. According to the simple reading of our Mishnah however, it would appear that it is koveah even prior to gemar melacha since that is the focus of our Mishnah.
The Mishnah Rishona suggests that this part of the Mishnah is not a continuation of the beginning that permits the consumption of the residual oil, but instead referring to the oil that has already reached gemar melacha. Indeed when the Rambam codifies this law (Maaserot 5:16) he simply refers to oil without stating that it was residual oil left in the upper parts of the press. Yet the Mishnah Rishona however rejects this suggestion based on a difficultly found in the Yerushalmi (see the Mishnah Rishona for more details).
The Yad Avraham however cites the Torat Zerayim who explains that there is difference whether it cannot be eaten now because cooking is no longer considered a snack (the Rambam’s explanation of our Mishnah) and whether it is koveah. It is true that according to both explanations a person is not allowed to eat from the food prior to separate maaserot. Yet if it is not koveah and the reason is simply because it is not considered a snack if eaten it in this fashion, one would still be able to feed it to their animals. According to the Rambam since it is not koveah prior to the gemar melacha, and the restriction is only because that manner of consumption is not considered a snack, the cooked oil would be able to fed to one’s animals.
The Chazon Ish however cites the later Mishnah (4:4, amongst other proofs) where we will learn that according to the Chachamim that if one drank wine over a press and diluted it with hot water specifically, then he would be required to separate maaserot. The Rambam there explains that this is because the heat (cooking) is koveah, implying that it is an issue even prior to gemar melacha.
The Chazon Ish (4:17) however suggests a different understanding of the position of the Rambam. When the Rambam rules (3:3) that bishul or melicha (salting) is koveah only regarding something that has reached gemar melacha, he is only excluding a case where it will be followed by another process. For example, salting olives prior to them being pressed. If however one is salting or cooking to eat them, then it is consideredf for these purposes gemar melacha and he would agree that it is koveah.
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