Sunday, October 28, 2007

Believing the Am Ha’aretz on Shabbos

Rabbi Nosson said that the halacha follows Rabbi Shimon Shezuri in respect to terumas ma’aser of d’mai (the Rabbis considered produce from an am ha’aretz as possible tevel because some of them did not separate ma’aser; in this case, the ma’aser was separated, and then, the terumas ma’aser, which is a tenth from the ma’aser that goes to the kohen, fell back into the produce; since there was not enough produce remaining to nullify the terumas ma’aser, which has the same halachic status as terumah, the entire mixture become forbidden for consumption by a non-kohen; Rabbi Shimon Shezuri rules that we can ask the am ha’aretz if he indeed separated ma’aser initially, and if he answers in the affirmative, we may rely on him even during the weekdays; this is because most am ha’aratzim do separate ma’aser and in cases which involve a substantial loss, we believe them).

Rashi explains why the Mishna states that the am ha’aretz is believed even on weekdays. This is because of the following halacha: If one would have produce on Shabbos that he purchased from an am ha’aretz, and he had forgotten to separate ma’aser from it prior to Shabbos (and it is forbidden to do so on Shabbos); he may ask the am ha’aretz if he indeed separated the ma’aser, and he would be believed. This is because there is a mitzvah of Shabbos enjoyment (oneg Shabbos). He must however, separate the ma’aser after Shabbos before continuing to eat from this produce. Rashi in Chullin (75b) writes that it is on account of honoring Shabbos. Maharsha writes that the two are identical explanations.

Tosfos writes that the reason we believe the am ha’aretz on Shabbos is because the am ha’aretz can feel the fear of Shabbos as well, and he is afraid to lie.

There is a practical halachic difference between the two reasons. According to Rashi, one may ask the am ha’aretz during the week and his affirmative answer will allow one to eat from this produce on Shabbos because there is a mitzvah to honor Shabbos. According to Tosfos, he will only be believed if he is asked on Shabbos.

The Gemora (Yevamos 93) relates the following incident: Rabbi Yannai used to have a sharecropper that would bring a basket of fruit every Erev Shabbos. One Erev Shabbos, the sharecropper did not arrive on time. Rebbi Yannai relied on the fruit that he knew the sharecropper would eventually bring, and counted them in his taking of Terumos and Ma’asros. Rebbi Chiya endorsed his action by citing the following verse: “In order that you should learn to fear Hashem all of the days,” and stating that the verse indicates that this includes Shabbos and Yom Tov.

Rashi explains: One should ensure that his requirement of having pleasure on Shabbos should not be disturbed because of the prohibition of eating tevel (produce which has not been tithed yet). Take precautionary measures to remove the prohibition in order that the produce can be consumed and enjoyed.

Rabbi Yosef Lieberman in his sefer, Mishnas Yosef comments that this verse is also teaching us how one has to have a fear of Hashem on Shabbos and Yom Tov, even more than he does during the weekdays, for the laws of Shabbos are like mountains hanging on a hair, for they have few Scriptural allusions, but many halachos. It is extremely easy to stumble and transgress one of the many prohibitions on Shabbos.

Furthermore, he writes that these are days of pleasure and enjoyment; a time that is vulnerable for sin, like the Tur (O”C 529) writes. One should sit on Shabbos with a tremendous trepidation so that he does not inadvertently sin on Shabbos. And one who attempts to purify himself, Hashem will assist him.

The Gemora says elsewhere that one does not need to be concerned about eating d’mai on Shabbos because we can ask the am ha’aretz, and we are confident that he will not lie on Shabbos.

I once heard from Rav Shmuel Feivelson the following explanation: Shabbos is a sampling of the World to Come. We are basking in the presence of the Shechinah. It is impossible to lie when the truth is staring you straight in the face.