Monday, April 7, 2014

Tithing Israeli produce

May I purchase Israeli produce, if I am not sure whether terumah and maaser have been separated?

One certainly should support Israeli agriculture. We can manage doubt about tithing with the following procedure, which should be followed for each species of produce separately:

Keeping all of the produce to be tithed in one place, we separate a little more than 1% of the produce and hold it apart. [We do not recite a berachah unless we are certain that the produce has not been tithed already.] We declare:
  • The northern portion of the produce I am holding, beyond the 1% of the total produce, is terumah for the total produce.
  • The produce I am holding that consitutes 1% of the total produce is maaser rishon, along with nine equal parts within the upper portion of the rest of the produce.
  • The produce I am holding that constitutes 1% of the total produce is terumat maaser.

We put aside the separated produce to deteriorate, because we are currently unable to give it to a kohen to consume in purity. Once it is inedible, we may dispose of it in our compost bins.

This year is the sixth year of the shemitah cycle, and so we must also separate 10% as maaser ani and give it to a needy person. There are several ways to do this, but one method is this: Designate 10% of the remaining produce as maaser ani, and then declare that it is redeemed for an equivalent sum of money, which you may then give to a needy Jew. However, one may keep the maaser ani for himself; unless someone can prove that the produce was never tithed, there is no obligation to distribute maaser ani.

Please note:

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