Wednesday, Feb 1, 2023

Chagigah 19: Theory and Practice

On this daf, we find some halachos regarding maaser.

The halachos that are only fulfilled in Eretz Yisroel are mostly relevant to those who live there. When someone asked the Pe’as Hashulchan why his work on Zeraim did not rely more on the rulings of the Chayei Adam’s sefer on this subject, he offered a very interesting explanation: “Although the Chayei Adam was a very great posek and his works are largely considered halacha l’maaseh, especially among Lithuanian Jewry, this is not the case regarding the laws of Zeraim. Strangely, he sometimes rules against the accepted practice here in Eretz Yisroel. I believe that the reason why is because the mastery of these halachos depends on fulfilling them practically. It is not enough to rule on them from a place of theory; they must be fulfilled practically.”

One man who lived in Eretz Yisroel was outraged at the lack of certain spices in the market and decided to grow some in his garden. When the time came, he was told that it was unnecessary to take tithes from spices, so he refrained from doing so. When he told this to a client, the man got very upset.

He took this question to a competent posek, who said, “It is true that according to the letter of the law, one need not take terumos and maaseros from spices, since they are solely used to enhance other foods and are not considered food themselves. But this is only true regarding spices which are never used as food, even as part of a salad, such as black pepper and others. If the plant used to spice the food is used somewhere for food—even if it is added to a salad as one of the vegetables—terumah and maaser must be taken from it. In most cases, we are unsure whether the spice is used for food somewhere, and the custom is to take terumos and maaseros without a brocha due to doubt” (Pe’as Hashulchan; Mishpatei Eretz, Terumah 1:6-7).

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