Wednesday, February 20, 2008

An Abbreviated Cycle

The Gemora (Nedarim 61a) presents a dispute regarding the counting of Yovel. The Chachamim hold that Yovel is the fiftieth year in the cycle and the following year is the first year of the next cycle. Rabbi Yehuda maintains that the fiftieth year is reckoned for both cycles. It is the fiftieth year of the previous cycle and the first year of the forthcoming cycle.

The Turei Even poses an interesting question according to the viewpoint of Rabbi Yehuda. In the first Shemitah cycle after a Yovel, there will only be five field working years between Yovel and Shemitah since during Yovel one is not permitted to work his field.

In a normal Shemitah cycle, each of the six years has a designated tithing that one is required to separate from his field. One is obligated to take maaser sheini (he would bring one tenth of his produce to Yerushalayim to be eaten there) on the first, second, fourth and fifth years. He would separate maaser oni (given to the poor) on the third and sixth years. The Turei Even wonders what the arrangement would be according to Rabbi Yehuda in the first cycle following a Yovel, where there is only five years.

The Netziv and the Sfas Emes state that in the third year, one would separate maaser oni and regarding the remaining years, he would take maaser sheini. This is because the Torah states that maaser oni should be separated every three years; however the Torah does not prescribe set years for maaser sheini. A year that does not have a requirement for maaser oni, automatically has an obligation for maaser sheini.