Mixed Maaser Sheni and Maaser Ani

Machshirin (2:11) | Yisrael Bankier | 2 months ago

The Mishnah (2:11) discusses mixtures of produce from different years of the shemittah cycle. Which year the produce is from is important. In the first, second, fourth and fifth year, the second tithe is maaser sheni. As we have learnt in the past, it must be taken to Yerushalaim and consumed there. In the third and sixth year, the second tithe is maaser ani and is instead given to the poor. In the shemita year however, the produce has kedusha and is exempt from all tithes. The Mishnah teaches that we treat the mixture like the majority of the mixture. If however there is an even split, then we rule stringently. We shall try to understand this Mishnah by focusing on the case where the mixture contains produce from the second and third years.

The Mishnah Achrona understands that the Mishnah is specifically discussing how one is meant to perform hafrasha -- the separation of terumot and maaserot. In other words, if there is a majority in the mixture from the second year, then the second tithe taken for the entire mixture is separated as maaser sheni. In other words, the principle of bitul (annulment) is applied to the produce in the minority and it takes that status of the majority.

The Mishnah Achrona however continues that despite bitul, the owner would still need to give the amount of maaser ani that should have been separated from the third-year produce. Since maaser ani is considered the property of the poor, and the bitul does not apply to monetary matters, the value would still need to be handed over. Note that this case is different to Demai where, since there is a doubt whether maaser ani was separated, the owner can retain it. In this case, the required maaser ani is definitely in the mixture. We see a similar idea with bitul with respect to terumah. If one part of terumah is mixed with one-hundred parts of regular produce, it is batel. This means that a non-kohen can eat the entire mixture. Nevertheless, he must still give the kohen a quantity of produce equal to the amount of terumah that was mixed in, since the monetary aspect was not annulled.

Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita in Derech Amuna (Maaser Sheni 1:101) however explains that the Mishnah is not discussing a case where we have a mixture of produce from two different years. If that where the case, there would be no bitul. That is because this is case of davar she'yesh lo matirin. In other words, the situation can be remedied without relying on bitul. For example, the terumot and maaserot can be separated from other produce to satisfy the requirements within the mixture. The case in the Mishnah is where produce from both years were stored in the same storeroom and some remained, yet we are unsure the year of that produce.1 The Mishnah therefore teaches that we treat that produce like a majority of the produce that was stored there.

Rav Chaim continues that in the case where it was fifty-fifty one separates the second tithe and declares that is considered maaser sheni if the produce is from the second year, and it is maaser ani if the produce is from the third. He continues that according the Rambam, who only mentions maaser sheni, the owner would not be required to give the ani anything based on the principle of hamotzi me'chaveiro alav ha'raya. If one wants to extract property from another, he bares the burden of proof, and the ani would need to prove the produce is from the third year. He continues however that according to the Raavad, Rash, Rosh, Bartenura and Gra he would still need to give the ani the maaser2. That is because whenever we have a doubt regarding gifts to the poor we rule stringently.3


1 Note that the Mishnah never stated that there was a mixture, only that one was in the majority of the other. Furthermore this understanding of the Mishnah follows only nicely from the previous Mishnah that discussed a storeroom that was shared by yirsaelim and nochrim.

2 That is only after first redeeming it out of concern it is maaser sheni.

3 Note that that is the case because the food is definitely tevel, the case is only regarding the status of the second tithe. If however there was doubt whether the produce was even tevel (like in the case of Demai) then everyone agrees that hamotzi me'chaveiro alav ha'raya applies to maaser ani.

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