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Using the abridged text for separating terumot and ma'aserot

Using the abridged text for separating terumot and ma'aserot

Using the short text for T&M by soldiers during the Swords of Iron War

Rabbi Netanel Oyerbach, Emunat Itecha 142, 5784, pp. 50 – 52


Now during the Swords of Iron War, IDF soldiers are often stationed in combat positions or assembly areas without access to a siddur or telephone. In light of this, we have received inquiries about the permissibility of using the abridged text for separating terumot and ma'aserot.


The Chazon Ish writes (Demai 15:6):

Whoever possesses the written formula for the separation of terumot and ma'aserot as formulated by a Sage, and he is on the road and does not have the formula on hand, and is not an expert vis-à-vis the separation, should set aside a little more than one-percent and say that [the separations] should all apply just as it is written properly in his text, and this is effective.

Understanding the separation formula

Before delving into the basis for the Chazon Ish's recommendation, note that he made this suggestion only for she'at hadechak, extenuating circumstances, as he explicitly states: "and he is on the road and does not have the formula on hand." Consequently, the scope of this ruling should not be extended to situations that do not qualify as 'extenuating circumstances.'[1] Furthermore, some interpret his wording "and is not an expert vis-à-vis- the separation" to include even those "who are not familiar with the intricacies of the applications of the terumot and ma'aserot and intend that they should apply by halachic law and according to the mitzvah." Many, however, maintain that the recitation of the formula for separating terumot and ma'aserot without understanding it does not effectively remove the tevel status from produce,[2] as Rabbi Yisrael Yaakov Algazi writes (18th century scholar, Responsa Mahari Algazi, Kuntress Hasfekot §12, pp. 101-102):

Concerning an ignoramus who is not familiar with the intricacies of the separation of terumot and ma'aserot from wine and from other things, and a reliable rabbi arranges the order of their separation for him to say on a written note for the former to say from the written text, but [the former] is unable to comprehend the content of what he is saying at all – is his separation effective when he says these things even without understanding them? … When he does not understand his verbal expressions, his separation has not accomplished anything, since [it is important] that his verbal expressions and understanding must be the same.

Indeed, some authorities explain that even according to the Chazon Ish, the effectiveness of the separation through his suggestion hinges on the individual comprehending the meaning of the separation.

Dispute of Chazon Ish vs. Rabbi Tzvi Pesach Frank

The Chazon Ish supports his innovation with proof from the laws of conditions (tena'im). In this context, the Rema states (EH 38:3): "Even if he did not specify all of the terms of the condition, rather he states generally that he stipulates in keeping with the condition of the sons of Gad and the sons of Reuven, it nevertheless is a valid condition."

Similarly, in Sanhedrin 60a, if witnesses come to testify and one says a full testimony, the second can subsequently affirm, "I [testify] likewise." This testimony is valid for civil law (dinei mamonot) and capital law (dinei nefashot) and is considered as if the full content of the testimony was stated.

Rabbi Tzvi Pesach Frank (Har Tzvi Zera'im 1:48), however, completely rejects the Chazon Ish's suggestion. He asserts that we cannot draw proof from the Remah on the laws of conditions (double conditions, preconditions, "affirmative prior to negative") which can be rendered superfluous by making a general statement of "following the conditions of the sons of Gad and the sons of Reuven." This is because these laws relate to the formula of the condition and are not inherently an essential independent matter. As he emphasizes: "The application of a matter is done in clear and explicit terms, and the condition is only the expression of how the acquisition will apply."

Unlike the examples above, separating terumot and ma'aserot involves specific designations. Therefore, designating automatically without clear and specific verbal statements, which inherently form the designation, proves ineffective. Rabbi Frank also dismisses the second proof based on the same principle. The verbal testimony of witnesses does not establish a designation; instead, it serves as a disclosure to the rabbinical court, guiding its ruling on the matter at hand. In contrast, the act of saying the formula for the separation of terumot and ma'aserot inherently creates a designation – both prohibitive and financial. A clear and explicit statement is crucial for this to be effective, and not "in ambiguous terms in which the essential part is missing and not a thing is known about what it does … and this does not remove the tevel status." This implies that according to Rabbi Frank, the separation of terumot and ma'aserot in this manner, even in extenuating circumstances, is entirely ineffective (Kerem Tziyon Hashalem III, Hilchot Pesukot 19:21):

One should not rely on the leniency of this guidance, as it is ineffectual to merely allude to a text in one's possession, since it is essential to designate and name part of produce as terumah. Consequently, articulating one's actions is necessary; stating that it will follow the text in one's possession – this accomplishes nothing.


It is important to learn the fundamental principles governing the separation of terumot and ma'aserot.

Ideally, one should recite the entire text of the separation from a reliable written source.

In extenuating circumstances, when the formula for separating terumot and ma'aserot is unavailable, one may separate terumot and ma'aserot by stating: "Everything will apply as written according to the text in my possession at home."

[1] For the Hebrew article including footnotes with full citations, see here:

Today, when nearly everyone has smartphones and it is possible to easily access the separation formula, it seems that it is difficult to come by a true "extenuating circumstance," with the exception of extreme cases such as soldiers on the battle field. However, some authorities extend the Chazon Ish's leniency to situations that are not she'at hadechak and write that the abbreviated text may be used even lechatchilah for those who are not intimately familiar with how the separation process works (Rabbi Moshe Bloom).

[2] Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Minchat Shlomo I 62:10), Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef (Chazon Ovadiah Terumot VeMa'aserot p.195), and others.