Some of the *mishnayot* in the fourth *perek* deal with how much
*trumah* must be given to the *Kohanim*. The third *Mishnah* in perek 4
says that a generous person will give one fortieth of his produce to the
*Kohen*, whilst a miser will donate one sixtieth and someone in between
these two extremes will give one fiftieth. What is interesting is that
although the *Mishnah* gives exact values for how much *trumah* should
be given, when it comes to actually separating the *trumah* from the
rest of the produce, the law is to estimate rather than to actually
measure the exact amount of *trumah* given. The reason for this is that
even though the *Chachamim* provided a measure for the size of *trumah
gedolah*, the *Torah* itself does not provide a *shiur*. Instead it
writes “your *trumah* shall be reckoned (*va’nechshav*)” (*Bamidbar* ).

As is stated in *perek* 1, *Mishnah* 7, “One does not give *trumah* by
measure, or by weight, or by number.” However, the *Mishnah* goes on to
explain that one can take *trumah* from produce that has already been
measured, weighed or counted, making it possible for someone to donate
close to the exact amounts mentioned earlier. In the case of *trumah*,
there appears to be a clear distinction between estimating and
calculating. While the produce as a whole may be calculated, the
*trumah* itself may only be estimated.

We find a similar concept our *mishnayot*. The *Mishnah* (4:6) explains
that there are three times during the agricultural cycle when we measure
the capacity of fruit baskets to determine how much produce to donate
based on their volume. For example if the basket’s capacity is one
hundred figs, we would donate two figs. These three agricultural periods
relate to the ripening seasons of various fruits. Fruits that ripen
earlier tend to be larger, so therefore a basket will hold fewer fruits.
Whereas fruits which ripen later and tend to be smaller and more dried
out.

Our *Mishnah* is usually interpreted in the context of the *mishnayot*
preceding it. Many commentators, such as *Melechet Shlomo* and *Tiferet
Yisrael*, explain that this *Mishnah*, like the ones before it, deals
with *trumah gedolah* and teaches us that even though we are only
supposed to estimate (not calculate) the amount of *trumah* we need to
give, we must nevertheless determine the amount of available produce in
order to be able to donate the amount that *Chazal* instructed us to
donate. In this sense, while the exact volume of the produce is known,
and the ideal amount of *trumah* can be calculated, we do not measure
out this amount but estimate it when actually separating the *trumah*.

However, *Rambam* explains the *Mishnah* differently. *Rambam* defines
the “basket” mentioned in the *Mishnah* as being the basket in which one
measures *ma’asrot* (a tenth of the produce which is given to the Levi)
and thus our *Mishnah* is not dealing with *trumah* *gedolah* which is
an estimated donation, but rather with *trumat ma’aser*. *Trumat
ma’aser* is given to the *Kohen* and comprises one tenth of the
*ma’aser* that the *Levi* receives. *Trumat ma’aser* has a fixed amount
that is mentioned in the torah – “*Ma’aser min hama’aser*” – “a tenth of
a tenth” – and therefore the Levi does not estimate the amount of
*trumat ma’aser* given, rather he gives an exact amount. It is with this
in mind that *Rambam* explains our *Mishnah*. *Rambam* believes that
because *Trumah gedolah* is a donation that is only ever estimated, it
is not possible that our *Mishnah*, which discusses calculating the
volume of a basket, is talking about *trumah gedolah*. Therefore the
basket in our *Mishnah* must be the basket in which we measure *trumat
ma’aser* so that in every season we can give the exact amount required.

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Kuntrus on Masechet Kinim (Updated: 2014/5774)