Parashas Korach

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Taste of Talmud

An Androginus (a male with female features) may get married and his marriage is considered binding even to the extent that if he is a Kohein, his wife is allowed to eat Terumah by virtue of the fact that she is married to a Kohein. Raish Lakish limits this allowance to Terumah which is given because of a Rabbinical decree. However, Terumah which is given because of a Biblical precept is prohibited to her. Rabbi Yochanan disagrees and says that she may eat any Terumah (Tractate Yevamos 81a). What is Terumah D’Rabanan (Rabbinicaly mandated) and what is Terumah D’Oraysah (Biblicaly mandated)? Rashi, Tosafos, and Raavad all agree that any time a farmer gives a tithe from a crop of fruit it is D’Rabanan. They all concur that only oil, wine, and grain are D’Oraysah as it says in Numbers (18:12) “All the best of your oil, wine and grain, that they give, I have given to you [the Kohanim]”. The Rambam’s opinion differs from the others; he says that there is a Biblical command to separate Terumah from all produce which is edible for man. He derives this from a verse in Deuteronomy (14:22) “you shall tithe the entire crop of your planting”. However, his opinion is only applicable to a time when the land of Israel is fully settled by Jews. According to the Rambam all Terumah in our times is D’Rabanan because it says in the Torah, “When you (plural) come to the land you shall give”. Therefore, only when the majority of Jews live in the land could it be considered that you (plural) have come to the land and therefore only when the majority of Jews return to the land of Israel will the obligations of Terumah and Maaser be Biblical (Rambam, Laws of Terumos 1:26).

Taste of Parasha

A powerful king gave a beautiful estate to one of his close advisors as a gift. To the great shock of the advisor, right after he moved in, a landlord came to him and asked to see proof that he was the legal owner of this estate. The advisor went back to the king and told him that his gift was being challenged. When the king heard this, not only did he give his advisor the legal deed to the property, he also gave him numerous gifts in order to strengthen his relationship with the advisor (Rashi to Numbers 18:8). So too, after the gift of priesthood was challenged by Korach, not only did G-d give Aaron proof that he
was the true “owner” of this office but he presented him with the 24 priestly presents. Terumah and a couple of others are listed at the end of this week’s Parasha. The Raavad derives another reason why these gifts were given to the Kohanim, from this week’s Parasha. These gifts legally belong to the Kohanim in place of a physical portion in the land of Israel which all of the other tribes received. The
Rambam takes it a step further and adds a philosophical perspective to these gifts. “The idea behind Terumah and the Tithes is in order that this tribe should be completely committed to devote themselves
to the highest levels of G-d’s service and Torah study. They are not to be distracted by the need to plow and work the land, this allows them to focus singularly on serving G-d” (Rambam, Guide to the Perplexed 3:39).

Taste of Halacha

By: Rabbi Yaakov Luban, Courtesy of

Many people mistakenly believe that the Chief Rabbinate of Israel separates Terumah and Ma’aser from all produce exported to America. Our office clarified this matter with the Rabbanut and, regrettably, this is presently not the case. Of course, if the produce is a packaged item which bears reliable supervision, one need not be concerned with Tevel; however, in the absence of supervision, the consumer must separate Terumah and Ma’aser himself. It is therefore important to note the origin of all produce. Generally, supermarkets post signs identifying produce of Israel. Readers should be aware that much of the canned grapefruit sections sold in America are products of Israel and require separation of Terumah
and Ma’aser. Information on country of origin is also provided on packaging labels. In practice, the separation of Terumah and Ma’aser is performed as follows:

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 oranges, one whole
orange and a small part of a second orange are separated.

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 nickel is sufficient.

4) No blessing is recited because of the possibility (though remote) that Terumah and Ma’aser were
separated in Israel.

5) Terumah and Ma’aser may not be separated on Shabbos and Yom Tov.

6) 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.

7) The following text is recited:

— “The amount in the northernmost part of the separated portion, that is slightly more than the 1% that I separated, from 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 Terumath 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 Shmittah 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 kedushah 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.”

About tasteofyeshiva

RABBI YAIR FRIEDMAN teaches in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in YES and is the president of Visionary Reading. He was a Rebbi at The Torah School of Greater Washington, and a founding member of the Greater Washington Community Kollel and the owner of Camp Gevaldig LLC.
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