MA'ASEROT


MA'ASEROT (Heb. מַעַשְׂרוֹת; "Tithes"), seventh tractate in the order Zera'im, in the Mishnah, Tosefta, and Jerusalem Talmud. It is sometimes referred to as Ma'aser Rishon ("First Tithe" – genizah fragments, Cambridge Ms., Tosefta Ms., and Maimonides' introduction to the Mishnah), but Albeck points out that this is a misnomer influenced by the name of the tractate following it, Ma'aser Sheni ("Second Tithe"). Ma'aserot deals chiefly with the precepts connected with the separation of the tithes to be given to the Levites from the produce of the land (see Num. 18:20–24), and the prohibition against making use of produce before the tithe has been separated.

The tractate contains five chapters. Chapter 1 defines the types of produce liable to tithing (1–4), the stage of growth at which they become liable, and when, after harvesting, untithed produce becomes forbidden. Chapter 2 gives circumstances in which casual eating of untithed produce is allowed, i.e., by the laborer. Chapter 3 continues with laws of tithe as they concern the laborer, and deals with the tithing of produce found on the road or in the field and the buildings or localities which render the produce brought there liable to tithe. Chapter 4 deals with the tithing of preserved fruits, liability for tithing arising through the onset of the Sabbath, chance eating from a vat of olives or a winepress, and the eating of insignificant parts of the produce. Chapter 5 deals with the liability for tithing of replanted produce, the selling of produce to those not trusted to tithe, and kinds of vegetables exempt from tithing.

The Tosefta has three chapters, supplementing the Mishnah with numerous accounts and decisions of the tannaim. Its editing appears to have been late, since it contains accounts (ch. 3) of Judah and Hillel, the sons of Rabban Gamaliel III. The order of the paragraphs does not correspond to that of the Mishnah, and there is no corresponding Tosefta to mishnayot 2:2, 6, 7; 4:4; and 5:6, 7. The Jerusalem Talmud covers about 14 columns of the Krotoszyn edition. It includes an interesting debate regarding the role of aggadah between Ze'eira and his colleague, who goes so far as to say that aggadic books are none other than "black magic" and attacks the aggadic method as being illogical (3:9, 51a). The Babylonian Talmud has no Gemara to Ma'aserot, as it has none on the whole of the order Zera'im, except for tractate Berakhot. This tractate was translated into English by H. *Danby, The Mishnah (1933), 66–73.

[David Joseph Bornstein]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.