Shabbos and Chatzer in Ma’asrot

Maaserot (3:1) | Yisrael Bankier | 19 years ago

Since beginning the masechet it has been learnt that once food has reached a particular stage in its development one can no longer consume it in a fixed manner before separating ma’asrot – e.g. for grain, this stage is when it is a third grown (1:2-4). One can however eat the food as a light snack until he takes this food into his house. After this point one is obligated to separate ma’asrot prior to consuming the food (1:5). Three other activities or events can also change the status of the produce in this manner.10 They include selling the produce, taking the produce into one’s courtyard (“chatzer” 3:1) and Shabbos (Trumot 8:3). The final change in status is referred to as “kove’ah”. We have already seen that if one intends to sell the produce, since it could be sold at any moment, its status changes after the last process is complete – “negmerah melachot” – e.g. smoothing the pile (1:6-8, 2:1).

We have also learnt that a chatzer is only kove’ah for produce that is completely processed (3:1). The Gemarah (Beitzah 34b) however ask whether Shabbos shares that same character as a chatzer or whether it is also kove’ah from products that are incompletely processed. Rav Nachman explains that Shabbos does indeed kove’ah for any produce whether or not its processes are complete – a position which is proven to be consistent with R’ Eliezer.

The Gemarah continues and clarifies the opinion of R’ Eliezer explaining that if someone was eating a snack and it become Shabbos he cannot complete the snack during Shabbos without separating ma’asrot. Nevertheless, he can continue the snack after Shabbos.

What is the logic behind the difference in the way Shabbos and a chatzer is kove’ah? The Gemarah brought the following pasuk when explaining that Shabbos is also kove’ah for incomplete goods:

“… and call the Shabbat delight (oneg)”

(Isaiah 28:13).

Rashi explains that since the consumption of food is referred to as oneg they can never be defined as a snack.

Using Rashi’s explanation, one could explain that a chatzer is similar to a house in that it represents the point after which the food, the object, is now defined as definitely tevel. Yet in the case of a chatzer this object must be ready for the transition, i.e. all its processes complete. Shabbos on the other hand does not cause a change in the status of the food, rather it alters the relationship that one has with food during the day. On Shabbos no consumption can be defined as a snack which means that ma’asrot must be removed prior to consumption. After Shabbos, nothing has affectively changed with the product; therefore one can eat the product as a snack.11

One can identify this understanding from the words of the Rambam. The Rambam specifically rules like R’ Eliezer (Ma’asrot 5:23) where he writes that if someone is eating food as a snack and Shabbos comes in “he must not complete” – referring to the person eating the food. However when discussing a chatzer, the Rambam writes that “once the produce enters the courtyard it is nikve’uh”.

The Gemarah however concludes with a statement from R’ Yochanan that Shabbos, chatzer, sales and [separation of] trumah are only kove’ah for products whose processes are complete. This conclusion, which effectively equates Shabbos and chatzer, led the Tosfot and Ba’al Hameor to argue that the Gemarah rules against the opinion of R’ Eliezer. How then does Rashi and Rambam rule like R’ Eliezer?

The Rashba writes that the closing statement means that Shabbos does not permanently kove’ah and the produce may be eaten after Shabbos. Nevertheless one could not eat this produce during Shabbos – consistent with the opinion of R’ Eliezer.

One can still ask, how does one explain how the final statement seemed to equate Shabbos and chatzer? One could suggest that they are indeed the same in that neither has an affect on the object to change its status if its processes are incomplete. Nevertheless, Shabbos is still different that it negates the possibility of eating the food in the form of a snack.

10: According to the Tosfot Ha’Rid these are all rabbinic enactments.

10: According to the Tosfot Ha’Rid these are all rabbinic enactments.

11: Note: this is provided that one did not set aside the food specifically for consumption on Shabbos. (See Rashi Beitzah (34b), Ma’asrot 4:1). In such a case, since the food has been set aside for a fixed meal, the status of the object changes.


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