|Daily Blessings: Before Mitzvot: Tithing Produce|
All transliterations, commentary, and audio recordings are copyright © 1997, 1998, 2002, 2009 by
Jordan Lee Wagner. All rights reserved.
The fruits, vegetables, and grains grown within the biblically designated boundaries of The Land of Israel must have a portion set aside as tithes (divinely-mandated taxes in kind) before they can be eaten.
Before separating the various tithes from Israeli produce, recite this blessing:
Separate a bit more than one percent of the produce, and then recite the following four declarations in English (or whatever language you understand):
Whatever [I've set aside that] is in excess of one percent of everything here, is hereby declared to be terumah (i.e., the priestly tithe) and is [hereby declared to be] the northernmost portion [of what has been set aside].
The one percent [of everything here] that is the remaining amount set aside here, along with nine equal amounts that are the uppermost portion of the [rest of the] produce, are declared to be the first tithe (i.e., the levitical tithe).
The one percent that I have [already set aside and have just] made [part of] the first tithe, is hereby declared to be the terumah portion of the first tithe.
Nine more equal amounts that are the lowermost part of [the rest of] the produce are declared to be the second tithe --- but if this produce must have the tithe of the poor separated from it, let [these nine percent] be the tithe of the poor.
If it is likely that the location of the source of produce was within Eretz Yisraeil, but doubtful whether or not tithes were already taken, the tithes should be separated but without reciting the blessing, but the four English declarations should still be made.
Then recite the following blessing for the second tithe:
If it is doubtful whether or not the second tithe was already redeemed, the tithe should be redeemed but do not recite the blessing. The English declaration below should still be recited.
The second tithe --- both it and its extra fifth --- is hereby redeemed by one perutah out of the coin that I have set aside for the redemption of the second tithe.
The bit of food that was originally set aside is not eaten nor thrown away, but left somewhere to decompose naturally. If this is inconvenient it may be buried.
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 August 2011 00:53|
Daily Blessings: Before Performing Mitzvot
Jan 05 2010 00:50:20
so is the tithe a food offering or a money offering?
Re:Daily Blessings: Before Performing Mitzvot
Jan 13 2010 23:57:41
Hi, Pam. Thanks for your question.
Ma'aser (literally, "a tenth") is translated into English as "tithe." These days, there is both an agricultural and a monetary meaning of ma'aser:
Halacha (Jewish Law) requires the tithing (separation of teruma and ma'aser) of produce grown in The Land of Israel; and Jews may not consume untithed produce.
In the State of Israel, various kashrus (kosher certification) organizations arrange for this tithing to occur before the produce becomes available for sale in Israel. However, there are no uniform practices regarding the tithing of fresh produce that is exported to the United States. Therefore, Jews here in the U.S. often must separate the teruma and maaser for themselves.
Given the importance of supporting the Israeli economy, many American Jews go to the trouble to purchase fresh Israeli produce and tithe the product at home. There is a problem connected with this: Some Israeli produce may have been grown in areas where tithing is not required.* Not only does such produce not require tithing, but it can't be designated as the tithed portion for the Israeli fruits and vegetables that do require tithing.
So the question arises: Can one purchase produce in a supermarket and designate a portion of the produce as terumah and ma'aser for the entire batch, when the possibility exists that the designated produce may come from an area where tithing is not required, while the remainder may require tithing?
This is a matter of halachic dispute. Some Rabbis require that each piece be tithed separately. On the other hand, HaRav Sh'lomo Zalman Auerbach, z"tl, and others, are of the opinion that the possibility of a mixture in the same batch is unlikely, and therefore one can tithe the entire batch without a separation from each individual item.
Either way -- i.e., whether tithing the batch or tithing each fruit separately -- one should not recite a berachah (a blessing that incorporates the Name of God; which would ordinarily be said when performing a commandment), since the possibility exists that the produce was grown outside of The Land of Israel.
Here is a brief outline of the method to be followed when tithing produce, according to the website (www.ou.org) of the Union of Orthodox Congregations of America, which is a widely respected kosher certification agency:
1) Place all of the produce in front of you.
2) Remove slightly more than 1% of the produce. For example, if there are 100 peppers, separate one whole pepper and a small part of a second pepper.
3) A coin, which is valid currency in the country in which the redemption is performed, is designated for redemption. At the time of this writing, one penny is sufficient. (Note: in the unusual event that the produce is worth less than 17 cents , there are special requirements for the redemption coin, known as perutah chamurah, which are beyond the scope of this article.)
4) Teruma and ma'aser may not be separated on Shabbos and Yom Tov.
5) It should be noted that while reciting this formula, neither the produce nor the separated portion should be moved, since the formula refers to designated locations.
6) The following text is recited:
The amount in the northernmost part of the separated portion which is greater than 1% of the total amount of the produce shall be Terumah Gedolah.
The remaining part of the separated portion, plus an additional 9% on the northernmost side of the produce shall be Ma'aser Rishon.
The part of the separated portion that was previously designated Ma'aser Rishon shall be Terumas Ma'aser.
10% of the remaining produce in the southern side shall be either Ma'aser Sheni or Ma'aser Oni, in accordance with the year of the sh'mi-tah cycle during which the produce was grown.
If the 10% on the southern side is Ma'aser Sheni, it should be redeemed by transferring its kedushah, calculated at its value plus 25%, to the coin.
If the produce is Neta Revai, it should be redeemed by transferring its kedusha, calculated at its value plus 25%, to the coin.
Alternatively, if one has difficulty with the full text or it is not available, this simplified text may be recited:
"All separations of Terumah and Ma'aser and redemptions of Ma'aser Sheni and Neta Revai shall be effected in accordance with the text of the Chazon Ish."
7) The separated produce (the part which was more than 1%), and the designated coin are wrapped and discarded.
Halachah (Jewish Law) requires that all Jews tithe their money and donate between one-tenth and one-fifth. This requirement to give one-tenth is referred to as ma'aser. It is based on assets, not income.
For someone who is just beginning to follow halachah, this is best accomplished by giving away at least one-tenth of his or her net worth immediately, then donating at least one-tenth of his or her income each year. If this is difficult, one could begin giving small amounts, and work up to the minimal one-tenth requirement.
As soon as you earn your money you incur an obligation to tithe from it. The Chofetz Chaim says that it is praiseworthy to give small sums frequently rather than large sums less frequently. If you give a large sum once a year you might only think about tzedakah once a year; if you give small amounts frequently you will always be thinking about tzedakah. This is character-building; it makes a person into someone who is always looking for opportunities to give tzedakah. Thus it is common practice for religious Jews to give tzedakah several times daily, often when attending services at synagogue, in addition to making periodic large contributions.
The details of exactly what constitutes income, and what can be deducted from income for the purpose of calculating your ma'aser obligation, are as complicated in Jewish Law as IRS Tax Codes are in U.S. Law. (But they are different.)
Furthermore, the donations that count toward fulfillment of the mitzvah (commandment) of ma'aser are different from what donations are considered charitable under U.S. Tax codes. For example: Purchases of s'forim (Jewish holy books) count as ma'aser; but synagogue dues do not.
Details are probably beyond the scope of this forum, but can be found by googling search-terms like "maaser tzedakah."
Note that this post is intended to be educational only in a general academic sense. It should not be used for practical guidance in a real situation. No amount of Internet research is a substitute for seeking personal guidance from your local orthodox rabbi. Your individual history and circumstances are unique, and are legally significant, so actual cases should be referred to a Dayan (Judge) or Beis Din (Court).
* Some parts of the State of Israel are not part of the Land of Israel, such as Eilat. And some parts of The Land of Israel are not part of the State of Israel, such as parts of Jordan.