Annulling hafrashat terumot and ma'aserot in order to say a blessing
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Should one ask a Torah scholar to annul the separation of terumot and ma'aserot in order to go through the process properly with a blessing? A brief halachic overview of the topic. Abstract from Emunat Itecha, issue 125.
Question: I received fruit and I separated terumot and ma'aserot without saying a blessing, since I wasn't sure if they were tithed. A few minutes later, I found out that the fruit was definitely untithed—tevel vaday. Is it possible to have a talmid chacham annul the original hafrasha (a.k.a she'ela) so that I can separate terumot and ma'aserot again, properly, with a blessing?
As we know, if a blessing is not made it does not detract from the performance of the mitzvah. This means that the separation of terumot and ma'aserot is valid, notwithstanding the absence of the blessing. However, a mitzvah performed with a blessing beforehand is optimal by far than one done without a blessing. For this reason, it is praiseworthy to take steps to perform the mitzvah with a blessing.
1. Saying a blessing after performing a mitzvah
The Gemara states (Pesachim 7b): "For all the mitzvot, one says the blessing on them prior to their performance." The Rishonim are divided in cases when the blessing is not said before performing the mitzvah. Some write that one loses out on the blessing, and that blessings should not be said after the mitzvah is performed since it was done already. Others write that the Gemara's statement is only lechatchila; if one forgot to say the blessing, however, it is still possible to do so after performing the mitzvah. In practice, Acharonim rule not to say a blessing, and we should act accordingly.
2. Asking a talmid chacham to annul the tithing process in order to say a blessing on a second tithing
Regarding the question of whether it is possible to have a talmid chacham annul the taking of terumot and ma'aserot (hafrasha) in order to do so again with a blessing, there is a dispute between Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky and Rabbi Eliezer Menachem Shach. According to Rabbi Kanievsky, this should not be done; and if the hafrasha is annulled it causes one to say an unnecessary blessing (beracha she-eina tzericha). Rabbi Shach, however, believes that we need not worry about saying an unnecessary blessing, and it is possible to annul the hafrasha in this manner to perform the mitzvah properly with a blessing.
To answer this question, we will first relate in short to the fundamental disagreement on the issue of annulling a hafrasha through asking a talmid chacham. Rambam writes (Terumot 4:17):
When a person separates terumah and/or the tithes and then regrets [his act], he may approach a sage and ask for its repeal as other vows are repealed. The produce then reverts to being ordinary produce as it was before until he makes a separation a second time, [setting aside] either the same produce he separated initially or other produce.
This is the ruling of the Rema regarding challah that was accidentally mixed into the rest of the dough. The Taz writes that one should not ask a talmid chacham to annul the separation in this instance, but only when one regrets having separated the challah in the first place. However, it seems that he is the only one with this opinion and that it is possible to do so regardless. The Acharonim disagree with regard to saying a blessing on a second tithing: some write that a blessing should not be said on a second tithing, while others maintain that a blessing is in order. Since we are lenient when doubts concerning blessings are concerned, the custom is not to say a blessing on a second tithing. If so, in the case at hand—where the whole reason for annulling the tithe is in order to say the blessing—one should not have a talmid chacham annul the tithe since this would not rectify anything in a second tithing. Others write that the tithe should not be annulled since failure to say a blessing does not detract from the hafrasha.
In practice: if one failed to say a blessing before tithing, the blessing should not be said following the performance of the mitzvah. Furthermore, one should also not ask a talmid chacham annul the hafrasha in order to say a blessing.
For the article in Hebrew, with comments, see here.