ט״ו בתמוז ה׳תשע״ח (June 28, 2018)

Zevahim 76a-b: Biblical Tithes on Produce

As we learned on yesterday’s daf, Rabbi Shimon rules that if two consecrated animals – an asham (a guilt offering) and a shelamim (a peace offering) – became mixed together, the sacrifices should both be brought, keeping the more limiting restrictions of the asham sacrifice for both animals.

Does Rabbi Shimon permit this only be-di’avadex-post facto – or would he permit creating such mixtures in general, since all of the requirements can be fulfilled by keeping all of the restrictions of the asham? This is the question that is discussed on today’s daf.

The first source that is brought in an attempt to resolve this question is a Mishna later on in Massekhet Zevahim (90b) that discusses the sacrifices that the kohanim eat in the Temple. The Mishna teaches that the kohanim are permitted to prepare the meat from the sacrifices in any way they please – they can roast it, boil it or cook it. With regard to spices, Rabbi Yishmael rules that they can flavor it with any spices, whether the spices are taken from tithes or are ordinary spices. Rabbi Meir forbids the use of tithe spices, since when the sacrificial meat can no longer be eaten, the spices will be destroyed, and he does not permit the use of tithes in a situation where they will be liable to be destroyed.

While our Gemara quotes the first opinion in the name of Rabbi Yishmael, the Mishna on daf 90 has this opinion as that of Rabbi Shimon, as do many of the manuscripts of the Gemara. This proof is rejected because the tithes on spices are only Rabbinic in origin.

According to most opinions in the rishonim, the only produce that is obligated in tithes on a biblical level are grain, grape juice and olive oil (see 18:12), but not other fruits. Some even suggest that other grape and olive products are not obligated in tithes on a biblical level. The Rambam rejects this ruling and rules that all produce that is stored and used for human consumption is obligated on a Torah level, basing himself on the Mishna at the beginning of Massekhet Ma’aserot.