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Pesach: Biur Ma'aserot and Viduy Ma'aserot, Nissan 5779

Pesach: Biur Ma'aserot and Viduy Ma'aserot, Nissan 5779

Biur and viduy ma'aserot are unique mitzvot that occur once every three years; this year (5779) is one of them. On the halachot of biur and viduy ma'aser as they apply today plus the texts recited as part of viduy ma'aserot.

Rabbi Moshe Bloom

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The Mitzvah

The Torah commands us "מִקְצֵ֣ה שָׁלֹ֣שׁ שָׁנִ֗ים תּוֹצִיא֙ אֶת כָּל מַעְשַׂר֙ תְּבוּאָ֣תְךָ֔ בַּשָּׁנָ֖ה הַהִ֑וא וְהִנַּחְתָּ֖ בִּשְׁעָרֶֽיךָ"  "At the end of three years you shall take out every tithe of your crops in that year and set it down within your cities"(Devarim 14: 28). From here we learn that we need to remove the ma'aserot from our homes and deliver them to all the people who the Torah indicates they are meant for. This is the mitzvah of bi'ur ma'aserot (lit. "removing the tithes").

Details of the Mitzvah

  1. Cut-off date for terumot and ma'aserot. One should complete the separation of terumot and ma'aserot from the yield of the past three years (5776, 5777, and 5778), and from products made from this produce (canned and frozen goods, for instance) by the last day of chol hamoed Pesach (erev shevi'i). Some do so by erev Pesach, especially for products that may include chametz.
  2. Challah is to be separated from dough by erev Pesach 5779, and neta revay fruit harvested before Pesach is to be redeemed before Pesach 5779.
  3. Types of produce. The separation of terumot and ma'aserot is to be completed for the following produce:
    1. Vegetables: Any vegetable harvested from Rosh Hashana 5776 to Rosh Hashana 5779.
    2. Fruit: All fruit that bloomed from 15 Shevat 5776 to 15 Shevat 5779.
    3. Legumes: Any produce that has reached a third of its development from Rosh Hashana 5776 to Rosh Hashana 5779.
  4. Tevel vaday. For produce that certainly requires tithing, the separation of terumot and ma'aserot is performed as follows:
    Teruma gedola and terumat ma'aser is given (/ownership transferred) to a Kohen (to feed his livestock or to burn); buried in the ground; or double bagged and disposed of in the garbage.
  5. Ma'aser rishon is given/ownership transferred to a Levi.
  6. Ma'aser ani is given/ownership is transferred to poor people.
  7. As for produce where it is uncertain whether they require ma'aser ani or ma'aser sheni, both tithes are taken; ma'aser ani is given to the poor
    For ma'aser sheni, see no. 9.
  8. Hafrasha mi-safek. Fruit that require the separation of terumot and ma'aserot due to uncertainty should be tithed, but there is no obligation to bring them to their intended destination. The terumot (gedola and terumat ma'aser) can be wrapped in paper or nylon (some require double bagging) and placed in the garbage.
  9. Biur ma'aser sheni. If one has coins used to transfer the sanctity of ma'aser sheni or neta revay, they should be destroyed.
    1. Optimally, the coin(s) to be destroyed should be the original coin(s) that the ma'aser sheni/neta revay sanctity was transferred to (generally an NIS 10 coin is used).
    2. Alternatively, the sanctity of the coin can be transferred onto a coin worth at least 6 perutot; a peruta today is worth about 6 agorot. Optimally, to accommodate for five different levels of obligation (which each need to be transferred to a separate peruta-and-a-quarter, according to many opinions), a half shekel coin should be used. The 50 agorot includes more than five perutot-and-a-quarter (that is: 6.25 perutot).
      Note that some permit transferring the sanctity to a 10 agorot coin, without having to include different levels of obligation.
      This smaller coin is then destroyed. Yet another option (the least preferable) is to redeem the original coin onto sugar (see both options below):
  • Redeeming the coin onto a new coin.
    To redeem a ma'aser sheni coin on a peruta-and-a quarter in a new coin, say:
    "כל מטבעות מעשר שני והרבעי שברשותי בתוספת רבע מערכם מחוללים, כל דרגת חיוב בנפרד, על מטבע זה"  ,"The sanctity of all coins of ma'aser sheni and revay that are in my possession, plus a quarter of their worth, is hereby transferred, each level of obligation separately, to this coin." In this way, the old ma'aser sheni /neta revay coins are no longer sacred and can be used.
  • Redeeming onto sugar:
    • Take sugar (worth more than 6 perutot; today, as of Nissan 5779, this is approximately 36 agorot; 100 g or 6.4 TBS will suffice)[1].
    • Transfer the sanctity of the coin/coins to this sugar, saying the following formula:
      המעשר שני והרבעי שבמטבע זה /מטבעות אלו בתוספת רבע מערכם, הרי הם מחוללים על סוכר שלפני"
      "כל דרגת חיוב בנפרד
      , "The sanctity of the coin/ coins of ma'aser sheni and revay that are in my possession, plus a quarter of their worth, is hereby transferred, each level of obligation separately, onto this sugar that is before me."
    • Dissolve the sugar in water, and pour it down the drain.

      3. Destroying the coin. The coin (either original or new, smaller coin) that is imbued with the sanctity of ma'aser sheni /neta revay can be destroyed in several ways: by throwing it into the sea, burning it, hammering it out, or otherwise making it lose its form.
  1. Canned goods with rabbinate supervision. Even if someone is stringent to separate terumot and ma'aserot from canned goods under rabbinate supervision, one need not go through the biur.
  2. Untithed homemade canned/jarred goods. These include pickles, homemade jams, etc. If definitely untithed, open each one by the bi'ur deadline and separate terumot and ma'aserot If the jars all have the same produce in it and it's difficult or impossible to open all of them, bedi'avad it is permitted to open one jar and separate terumot and ma'aserot from it to exempt the rest of the jarred goods.

    Declaring ownerless. If one cannot open up the jars/cans
    , before the end of Pesach one can declare them ownerless (hefker) in front of three friends, who he knows will not take the goods. The owner tells the friends that he does not want to benefit from these goods despite the fact that they are in his possession. Once this produce is ownerless, it no longer is obligated in terumot and ma'aserot. By rendering untithed produce hefker, one essentially removes untithed produce from one's possession, thus accomplishing bi'ur.
    After Pesach, the owner can repossess this produce. When deciding to use it, he should immediately take terumot and ma'aserot.
  3. Cooked ma'aser sheni/neta revay. There is no need to perform bi'ur on a cooked food whose ma'aser sheni or neta revay sanctity have not been redeemed; these foods are considered as if bi'ur has been performed. The same holds true for wine and spices in this category.
  4. Bi'ur is not performed on Yom Tov or Shabbat.
  5. If one failed to perform biur by the deadline. If one failed to separate terumot and ma'aserot and deliver the gifts to their proper destinations by the last day of chol hamo'ed Pesach, the produce is not forbidden to use. However, after this date, ma'aser sheni and neta revay fruit or the money they were redeemed onto are forbidden for benefit and cannot be redeemed.
  6. Women's obligation. Women are obligated in the mitzvah of bi'ur, but not viduy (for various reasons); however, according to many opinions women may nevertheless recite the viduy if they so desire [2] 
  7. Viduy ma'aserot today. In Temple times, people would go to Jerusalem and recite the parashat viduy ma'aserot (literally the "tithing confession"), stating that they fulfilled their obligations and separated and delivered all of the required terumot and ma'aserot to their proper destinations. Today, sadly, in the absence of the Beit Hamikdash and since we are considered ritually impure due to contact with the dead (and for several other reasons[3]), this unique mitzvah of viduy ma'aserot is not performed.
  8. Zecher LaMikdash. It is praiseworthy to read the parashat haviduy in remembrance of the Beit Hamikdash (for the text, see below).
  9. It seems that even those who do not need to actively perform bi'ur ma'aserot (whom it is done on their behalf, or those who always buy tithed produce) should nevertheless read the viduy ma'aserot.
  10. Reading the viduy ma'aserot. On the seventh day of Pesach, either before or after mincha (in public), there is a practice to read these verses either from a chumash, with the trop, or from an sefer Torah (but without a blessing). Optimally, each person should read the verses himself. The viduy can also be read outside of Israel. Outside of Israel, it is possible to read the viduy on the eighth day of Pesach as well.[4] 
  11. After Pesach, one should prepare new coins for redeeming ma'aser sheni and neta revay.
  12. Members of Beit HaOtzar at Torah VeHa'aretz Institute. Bi'ur is performed with the coins used to redeem ma'aser sheni and neta revay on erev Pesach and on the last day of chol hamo'ed Pesach by the Beit HaOtzar managers. On the seventh day of Pesach, members may read parashat haviduy in remembrance of the Beit HaMikdash.

Parashat Viduy Ma'aserot

The mitzvah of bi'ur includes saying the viduy bi'ur ma'aserot out loud. In Israel, the viduy should be recited on the seventh day of Pesach, before or after mincha (abroad it is also possible to read it on the eighth day of Pesach, as mentioned above). Note that the Mishna (Sotah 7:1) and Shulchan Aruch (YD §331, 143) state explicitly that viduy ma'aser may be recited in any language, not only in Hebrew.

The text for viduy ma'aserot which appears in parashat Ki Tavo (Devarim 26: 12-15), is as follows:

כִּ֣י תְכַלֶּ֞ה לַ֠עְשֵׂר אֶת־כָּל־מַעְשַׂ֧ר תְּבוּאָתְךָ֛ בַּשָּׁנָ֥ה הַשְּׁלִישִׁ֖ת שְׁנַ֣ת הַֽמַּעֲשֵׂ֑ר וְנָתַתָּ֣ה לַלֵּוִ֗י לַגֵּר֙ לַיָּת֣וֹם וְלָֽאַלְמָנָ֔ה וְאָכְל֥וּ בִשְׁעָרֶ֖יךָ וְשָׂבֵֽעוּ: וְאָמַרְתָּ֡ לִפְנֵי֩ ה֨' אֱלֹהֶ֜יךָ בִּעַ֧רְתִּי הַקֹּ֣דֶשׁ מִן־הַבַּ֗יִת וְגַ֨ם נְתַתִּ֤יו לַלֵּוִי֙ וְלַגֵּר֙ לַיָּת֣וֹם וְלָאַלְמָנָ֔ה כְּכָל־מִצְוָתְךָ֖ אֲשֶׁ֣ר צִוִּיתָ֑נִי לֹֽא־עָבַ֥רְתִּי מִמִּצְוֹתֶ֖יךָ וְלֹ֥א שָׁכָֽחְתִּי: לֹא־אָכַ֨לְתִּי בְאֹנִ֜י מִמֶּ֗נּוּ וְלֹא־בִעַ֤רְתִּי מִמֶּ֙נּוּ֙ בְּטָמֵ֔א וְלֹא־נָתַ֥תִּי מִמֶּ֖נּוּ לְמֵ֑ת שָׁמַ֗עְתִּי בְּקוֹל֙ ה֣' אֱלֹהָ֔י עָשִׂ֕יתִי כְּכֹ֖ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר צִוִּיתָֽנִי: הַשְׁקִיפָה֩ מִמְּע֨וֹן קָדְשְׁךָ֜ מִן־הַשָּׁמַ֗יִם וּבָרֵ֤ךְ אֶֽת־עַמְּךָ֙ אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְאֵת֙ הָאֲדָמָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר נָתַ֖תָּה לָ֑נוּ כַּאֲשֶׁ֤ר נִשְׁבַּ֙עְתָּ֙ לַאֲבֹתֵ֔ינוּ אֶ֛רֶץ זָבַ֥ת חָלָ֖ב וּדְבָֽשׁ

When you have set aside in full the tenth part of your yield—in the third year, the year of the tithe—and have given it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat their fill in your settlements,  you shall declare before the L-rd your G-d: “I have cleared out the consecrated portion from the house; and I have given it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, just as You commanded me; I have neither transgressed nor neglected any of Your commandments: I have not eaten of it while in mourning, I have not cleared out any of it while I was unclean, and I have not deposited any of it with the dead. I have obeyed the L-rd my G-d; I have done just as You commanded me. Gaze from Your holy abode, from heaven, and bless Your people Israel and the soil You have given us, a land flowing with milk and honey, as You swore to our fathers.”

 

Some add the following mishna (Ma'aser Sheni 5:13):

השקיפה ממעון קדשך מן השמים' - עשינו מה שגזרת עלינו, אף אתה עשה מה שהבטחתנו, 'השקיפה ממעון קדשך מן השמים וברך את עמך את ישראל' - בבנים ובבנות, 'ואת האדמה אשר נתת לנו' - בטל ומטר ובולדות בהמה, 'כאשר נשבעת לאבותינו ארץ זבת חלב ודבש' - כדי שתתן טעם טוב בפירות

'Gaze from Your holy abode, from the heavens.' We have done what You decreed upon us, so too You do what You promised us: [to] 'gaze from Your holy abode, from the heavens, and bless Your nation, Israel,' with sons and daughters. 'And the land You have given us' bless with dew and rain, and [bless] the offspring of [our] livestock. 'Just as You have sworn to our forefathers, a land flowing with milk and honey' so that You will give a pleasant taste to the fruit.

 

After reading the viduy, recite the following prayer:

יהי רצון מלפניך ד' אלקינו ואלוקי אבותינו, כשם שזכינו לקיים מצוות ביעור מעשרות ווידוי מעשרות, כן יזכנו הקב"ה לקיים מצוות הפרשת תרומות ומעשרות מהתורה, וכן מצוות ביעור מעשרות מן התורה, בביאת גואל צדק ובבניין בית המקדש במהרה בימינו, אמן, כן יהי רצון

May it be your will, G-d, our L-rd and the L-rd of our forefathers, that just as we have merited to perform the commandment of bi'ur ma'aserot [removing tithes from our possession and delivering them to their proper destinations] and viduy ma'aserot [reciting the tithing confession], so too will G-d give us the merit to perform the commandment of separating terumot and ma'aserot as a Torah obligation, and to perform the commandment of bi'ur ma'aserot as a Torah obligation, with the coming of the righteous Redeemer and the rebuilding of the Holy Temple, speedily and in our day, amen. May it be Your will.

 

 

[1] Today (5779), inexpensive sugar costs NIS 4 per kg (1000 g) in Israel. So a peruta (approx. 6 agorot) is the equivalent of approximately 15 grams of sugar, which is a little more than 1 TBS of sugar. Accounting for five levels of obligation, 6.25 perutot is worth about 100 g of sugar.

[2] Since viduy ma'aser is conditional on receiving a portion in the Land of Israel, and in principle women do not receive a portion; or because it is a time-conditional mitzvah. According to many opinions, however, women may recite the viduy, the rationale being that (1) they too are obligated to separate terumot and ma'aserot and (2) women are included, in a general sense, in receiving the land.

[3] Since today we don't give terumot and ma'aserot completely (as kohanim today may not eat teruma due to being ritually impure; we cannot eat ma'aser sheni for the same reason). Moreover, according to Rambam, terumot and ma'aserot today are rabbinically mandated, since the majority of the Jewish People still do not live in the Land of Israel (albeit, this will hopefully change soon).

[4] The Aderet (Rabbi Eliyahu Teomim) suggests that in the Torah reading outside of Israel on the eighth day of Pesach (even when it doesn't fall out on Shabbat) on years of bi'ur, to start reading from aser te'aser (Devarim 14:22) and not from kol bechor, as usual (Devarim 15:19). See the article by Rabbi Yehuda Zolden in Hoda'at Ha'aretz, p. 375.