Monday, December 25, 2006

Daf Yomi - Rosh Hashana - Tu B'shevat

Question from Michael Post

The Mishnah lists six months for which messengers were sent out – for reasons ranging from “major holidays” like Pesach & Sukkos to “minor holidays” like Chanukah. The Gemara then asks about Tammuz & Teves since they have minor fasts, and the conclusion is that during the times of the Beis HaMikdash, those were only optional. But what about Shevat? We learned not that long ago that Tu B’Shevat is the new year for the trees (for maaser purposes, I believe). So wouldn’t people need to know exactly when Tu B’Shevat is so that they handle their trees properly? Tithing the crops is a Biblical obligation, so I would think that this would take even higher precedence than say Kislev.

Answer from Josh Waxman (Rabbi Margareten stated the same thing this morning)

I'm answering offhand, so I don't know that this answer is correct. However, the distinction seems to be how critical it is to know this at a specific point in time. That is, you need to know what the first day of Pesach is in order to celebrate Pesach and in order to get rid of your chametz. And thus you need to know it before Pesach arrives. The same thing for other chagim.
In contrast, while knowing when Tu beShvat is is important, perhaps it is not critical to know this information on Tu beShvat itself. If you know a month later and can calculate back, that would also be fine. Why? Well, Tu beShevat is the Rosh haShana for trees in terms of maaser, in terms of deciding what is maaser of year X and what is maaser for year X+1. This can be resolved a bit later, perhaps. This cutoff point is not when the fruits on the trees are fully developed, but rather when they first bud. So I would guess it would be a while before one would need to actually take maaser from these, perhaps if one wants to include them in the overall maaser for year X and there is a safek, he can wait a few days, or else take maaser from these separately later.
That would be my guess of the top of me head. If I get the time, bli neder, I'll try to check if Yerushalmi has anything about it.
Kol Tuv,