Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Daf Yomi - Rosh Hashana 15 - Maaser During Shemitah

Rashi cites a drasha from the Mechilta explaining why something that has the sanctity of Shemitah is exempt from the obligation of maaser.

Turei Even asks on the necessity for a special drasha pertaining to Shemitah when we already have a drasha that anything which is hefker (ownerless) is exempt from the obligation of maaser.

Maharit (43) answers that this would be a proof to the viewpoint of his father, the Mabit, who holds that the reason anything with the sanctity of Shemitah is deemed ownerless is not because the owner made his entire field hefker (which is the Beis Yosef’s opinion), but rather due to the decree from the Torah. The Steipler explains that something which is halachicly ownerless and the owner prevents others from acquiring them is not the hefker that is exempt from maaser. There is a special drasha by Shemitah that even if the owner does not want his produce to be hefker, it is nonetheless exempt from maaser.

The Turei Even himself answers that there is a dispute in the Yerushalmi regarding one who is mafkir (render ownerless) his produce to any Jew but not to a gentile, if that is considered hefker to be exempt from maaser. Produce that grows during Shemitah is hefker only to a Yisroel and according to Rish Lakish would not be considered hefker. This is why there is a special drasha stating that the produce of Shemitah is exempt from the obligation of maaser.

The Reshash asks on the Turei Even and states that the two cases are not comparable. In the Yerushalmi’s case, the hefker is not a hefker since he did not render ownerless to everyone and that is why Rish Lakish maintains that it is not hefker to become exempt from maaser. However regarding Shemitah, everyone would agree that the produce is hefker even if it will be only for a Jew and not for a gentile.

The Steipler answers that there would be a difference in the following case: A fruit that began to grow in the sixth year but did not grow a third until the seventh year. If something that grows during Shemitah becomes ownerless because it grew in the seventh year (and not because of its sanctity), perhaps we can say that only the portion of the fruit that grew in the seventh year is ownerless and therefore exempt from maaser, however the part that grew in the sixth year would be subject to the obligation of maaser. We have the special drasha by Shemitah teaching us that any produce that has the sanctity of Shemitah on it will be exempt from the maaser obligations.