The Mishnah (8:7) taught that one is not allowed to cook shemittah vegetables with terumah oil since it would cause “it” to become pasul. In other words, it appears that combining the two together would potentially result in causing one of these ingredients to become invalid. Exactly which ingredient the Mishnah is concerned about is the subject of debate.
The Bartenura explains that the concern is that the mixture may become tameh. If that were the case, the terumah can no longer be consumed and must be burnt. Consequently, the mixture prevents the shemittah vegetables from being consumed, causing them to be burnt alongside the terumah. Therefore, the concern according to the Bartenura is the mixture causing the Shemittah produce to become pasul.1
The Mishnah Rishona however notes, that even if the mixture did not become tameh it would still pose a problem. Prior to cooking, the vegetables could have been consumed by everyone. Once it is cooked with the terumah oil, only kohanim may eat the mixture. He directs us to the Mishnah in Maaser Sheni (3:2) where it forbids one to purchase terumah food with maaser sheni money as it restricts the number of people that may eat the food purchased with maaser sheni money.
Rashi (Zevachim 75b) however explains that the concern is regarding to the loss that would be caused to the terumah oil. Prior to the mixing, there was no time limit placed on the consumption of the terumah. Once however it is cooked with the shemittah vegetables, the mixture must be consumed by time of biur (see last week’s article). The Tosfot adds that even though (as we will learn) at the time of biur three meals worth are given to each of the household member, the excess must be removed.
The Mishnah Rishona however asks that even with respect to the excess, once they are removed from the house and declared ownerless, the owner can reclaim the produce. Consequently, the life of the terumah oil is not reduced as a result of the mixture. The Mishnah Rishona therefore suggests that perhaps since at the time of biur it must be declared hefker even for animals to eat, it is considered as if it is reducing it time for (human) consumption.
What would be the law in the reverse case? Could one cook terumah vegetables in shemittah oil?
The Tosfot R’ Akiva Eiger writes that it would be permissible. Firstly, terumah for vegetables is rabbinic. Consequently, there would be no concern of causing the terumah to be pasul as a result of the mixture. Secondly, the addition of the oil improves the terumah which would justify reducing it life. He cites the Tosfot (75b, Zevachim) that provides this rationale to explain why one can make terumah chametz despite the fact that it will need to be burnt if left till Pesach. Note that this explanation only works with the understanding that the concern is regarding the terumah.
The Tifferet Yisrael provides another reason why it would be permitted. He explains that once the time of biur arrives the terumah vegetables will be not be affected. This is because the shemittah oil is absorbed and considered as if it is removed (as we learnt previously 7:7). Nevertheless, the Tifferet Yisrael maintains that even this reverse case would be prohibited. Despite that fact that the absorbed oil is considered “removed”, nevertheless the law that shemittah produce is for consumption must not be destroyed still applies. Consequently, we must be concerned that one who is tameh might touch the mixture resulting in it needing to be destroyed, due to the vegetables being terumah, thereby causing the shemittah oil to be wasted. Note that the Tifferet Yisrael appears to combined both concerns, reducing the life of both the terumah and shemittah produce, in his answer.
1 One might suggest that a support for this understanding, that the issue of shelo yevieno lidei pesul is reducing the life of the shemittah produce, from the continuation of the Mishnah. See the Rambam commentary where he continues by explaining why kedushat sheviit attaches itself to the money or items that the shemittah produce was exchanged for. The derivation of this law is based on shemittah produce being referred to as “kodesh”. This is important as the Bartenura understands that our debate is based on whether one my cause “kodesh” to become pasul – le’havi kodshim lebeit ha’pasul.
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