Nochrim in Terumot

Trumot (1:1) | Yisrael Bankier | 11 years ago

Teruma (gedola) is the first “gift” that is separated from one’s harvested produce and given to the kohen. Unlike many of the other gifts, teruma must be kept and eaten in a state of ritual purity, Masechet Terumot begins by listing those people that cannot separate trumah and if they do, their actions are meaningless. One of the cases listed is a nochri that separated trumah from the produce of a Yisrael on his behalf.

The Gemara(Kiddushin 41b) learns the exclusion of a nochri agent from the following pasuk: “So shall you also (גם אתם) raise up the gift (trumah) of Hashem…” The phrase “you also”, is understood to at the same time include the use of an agent (גם) for separating teruma and limit the choice of agent to being an yisrael (אתם).

One should note that a nochri is excluded in our Mishnah only in the capacity of an agent. Whether he is able to separate his own teruma is a debate we will see in the coming weeks (3:9). The Chachamim and R’ Shimon debate whether if the teruma of a nochri got mixed with chulin,does it render the mixture meduma in the same fashion as a yisrael. The Chachamim maintain it does, while R’ Shimon argues it does not. The Tosfot (Kiddusin 41b) explain that they debate whether a nochri is included in the parasha of trumah.1The Chachamim understand that the separation of a nochri in this case has biblical force and is no different to a yisrael. It follows that it is only because of the special exclusion derived from the pasuk above that they cannot act as a shaliach.R’ Shimon on the other hand understands that on a biblical level, the hafrasha (separation) is meaningless.2 This being case, the above derivation is not necessary. Since the nochri cannot separate his own teruma, the general rule applies that he cannot act as an agent for someone else.

The Rambam (Hilchot Terumot 4:15) rules that the teruma a nochri separated from his own produce is not teruma on a biblical level; yet is teruma de’rabbanan. It is therefore initially surprising to find that when the Rambam records the law that a nochri cannot acts an agent for separating teruma, that he derives it from the above quoted pasuk – "גם אתם". Surely, as explained earlier, no such derivation is necessary as a nochri is unable to separate his own teruma and therefore cannot act as an agent for a yisrael.

The Lechem Mishnah (Ishut 3:17) asks this question and cites a Tosfot in presenting a solution. The Tosfot (Gittin 23b) explains the it is true the R’ Shimon does not need the pasuk to teach the law that an nochri cannot act as an agent for trumah. It is also true that the Gemara (Kiddusin 41b) explains that R’ Shimon uses the pasuk for a different reason. Nevertheless, since the laws of shlichut (agency) in general is learnt from truma, R’ Shimon agrees that the pasuk teaches that only bnei brit can acts as agents in general. This is because R’ Shimon actually agrees with the Chachamim that the phrase “גם אתם” excludes nochrim yet only argues that such a derivation is not necessary for the laws of trumah.

The Lechem Mishnah therefore explains that the Rambam included the derivation from the pasuk in the law of teruma for its broader implication despite being unnecessary for the particular case of teruma.


1 See Rashi for a different understanding of the debate.

2 The Mefarshim discuss the extent of rabbinic force, if any, behind the truma of a nochri according to R’ Shimon.

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