Smearing Teruma

Trumot (6:1) | Yisrael Bankier | 11 years ago

Teruma is meant to be consumed by kohanim only. This week we have focused on cases where a zar (non-kohen) has unlawfully consumed teruma, whether intentionally or unintentionally. The Mishnah teaches that if a zar ate, drank or smeared teruma by mistake, he must repay both the keren (principle value) and an additional chomesh (“fifth”). The chomesh as actually a fifth of the entire amount after it has been added (mi’le’bar), which would translated to twenty-five percent of the original consumed amount.

The law is learnt from the following pasuk: “If a man will eat of the holy (teruma) inadvertently, he shall add its fifth to it and shall repay the holy to the kohen” (Vayikra 22:14). While the Torah refers to eating, drinking is certainly considered eating. Smearing or anointing one’s body however, is the subject of debate.

The Bartenura cites a pasuk that treats smearing the same as eating: “…and it came like water into his innards, and like oil into his bones.”(Tehillim 109:18). The pasuk connects anointing to smearing.

The Tosfot Yom Tov is quick to point that the Mishnah in Shabbat (9:4) asks the same question with respect to anointing on Yom Kippur: from where do we know that anointing is like drinking? Even though the Mishnah brings the above quoted pasuk, the Mishnah asserts that is not a solid source, but rather an asmachta (textual support/trigger). The Bartenura explains there, that smearing is therefore not equal to drinking which punishable by karet, yet it is nonetheless forbidden on Yom Kippur1. The Tosfot Yom Tov therefore concludes that the obligation to pay chomesh for a zar that rubs teruma oil into his skin is not biblical, but rather rabbinic.2

The Tosfot Anshei Shem raises a number of difficulties with this understanding. The Mishnah taught that in a case where one inadvertently eats teruma,*the repaid keren and chomesh effectively become teruma. Teruma however is exempt from the separation of challah (when used to make bread). Granted that the Chachimim can institute laws that treat anointing like drinking, but how can they exempt the repayment from challah? Furthermore, if a zar ate the chomesh, he would need to pay an additional chomesh on the chomesh that was consumed. The difficulty is that if a zar inadvertently ate rabbinic teruma he is exempt from repaying chomesh. The chomesh that results from one who smeared would be rabbinic teruma.The Mishnah however makes no distinction regarding where the chomesh that was consumed was due to one that drink or anointed it. The final question is that if anointing is not considered eating or drinking on a biblical level, how can a kohen be allowed to take teruma oil and rub it into his skin (Shviit 8:2)? The kohen would technically be considered improperly wasting teruma*.

The Tosfot Anshei Shem cites the Ritva who presents a different approach. The Ritva, citing the Rabbeinu Tam, explains that the Sifri derives that smearing is indeed equivalent to drinking for the law of teruma specifically from a separate pasuk. Therefore while for other prohibitions smearing is not biblically included, for the prohibition of a zar to consume teruma it is.3


1Whether smearing along with the other inuyim of Yom Kippur are assur biblically or rabbinically is the subject of debate amongst the Rishonim.

2 See the Tosfot (Yoma 77a) who discuss this at length and explains that only for Yom Kippur, teruma and issurei hana’ah is smearing considered drinking (albeit rabbincally).

3 Is there however a way to answer the questions of the Tosfot Anshei Shem and defend the position that sicha is only prohibited mi’derabbana for teruma as well? With great caution, perhaps we can answer the questions in order. The exemption of challah is not necessarily a problem as sicha only applies to oil and wine (Bartenura Shviit 8:2) to which challah does not apply. For the second question, perhaps we can the answer that obligation of paying chomesh for chomesh the resulted from sicha of teruma is part of the original gezeira of chomesh without which the gezeira of chomesh for sicha might not stand. Finally to answer the question of how sicha can be permitted to kohanim, perhaps we can suggest that even though sicha is not shtiya, it does not necessarily mean that sicha is wasting but rather a valid form of hana’ah for a kohen. That said, the Tosfot Anshei Shem reject this last suggestion.

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