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Produce grown in the Land of Israel has to have Teruma, two of three different kinds of Ma'aser, and Terumat Ma'aser removed, as described in this OU Kosher article. Of these five separations, three - Teruma, Ma'aser Sheini, and Terumat Ma'aser - can only be eaten in a state of purity which is unavailable today, so it makes sense to do what we can to minimize or redeem them.

The other two - Ma'aser Rishon and Ma'aser 'Ani - are meant to be given to Levites and poor people, respectively. However, according to Footnote 7 of the article linked above, the original owner of the food may keep it, because these separations have no inherent sanctity, these gifts only constitute monetary obligations to the potential recipients, and there's enough of a doubt about the obligation that they couldn't successfully demand their due in court ("hamotzi meichaveiro - 'alav hara'aya").

It seems to me that what this doubt establishes is that it's possible to evade having to give these gifts to their intended recipients. However, why is this (as I understand it is) standard practice? Isn't it avoiding a chance to do Mitzvot and also undermining the clear intent of these Mitzvot - to provide for Levites and poor people?

I understand that if I buy a Jaffa orange in the US, it's impractical and undesirable for me to try to bestow one of the segments on a local Levite or poor person. But wouldn't it make sense for food producers or even home gardeners in Israel who want to live in accordance with the Torah as much as possible to follow through with these Mitzvot as originally commanded and practiced? (Or do some actually do this?)

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I've given Maaser Rishon to a Levi a number of times. (Once, actually, to a Bat Levi. [EDIT: now more than once]) Though I wouldn't bother to do so if I was only separating misafek (ie only in instances where I said a bracha). –  Double AA Jan 29 '13 at 17:52
    
@DoubleAA, so maybe I'm off-base. This isn't done by frum farms in Israel, though, is it? –  Isaac Moses Jan 29 '13 at 17:52
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@DoubleAA I don't know what you're problem is with my representation of #2 (ואילו ספק טבל ... חייבים להפריש בלי ברכה וגם אין מצות נתינה של מעשר עני). And yes, from #11 I did omit the statement that there are some people who are careful. If I understand the question correctly, he was asking why people are allowed to rely on המוציא מחבירו עליו הראיה in this case if you aren't allowed to rely on it, for example, in order to steal a piece of clothing from someone in a place where there are no witnesses. –  b a Jan 29 '13 at 22:50
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Unless I am mistaken, the only reason that people have ever been careful about Maaser Rishon is because it contains Terumat Maaser within it. Were it not for that, there would not be a problem with eating food from which it had not been taken. I believe that this principle underscored Rabbi Yehoshua's (?) taqanah, which itself underscores the procedures of Masekhet Demai. If you are dealing with produce today, which has had both terumah and terumat maaser removed from it, there's no actual need to also remove maaser rishon. –  Shimon bM Jan 31 '13 at 11:27
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@DoubleAA, Sources that recommend giving these gifts contemporarily would constitute a valid answer. –  Isaac Moses Aug 1 at 14:10

2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

R Avrohom Yeshaya Karelitz (Chazon Ish Shevi'it 5:12) writes that were we to give Maaser Rishon nowadays to Leviyim on the basis that they claim the Levi Aliya in Shul, more people would lie and pretend to be Leviyim because of the financial benefit.

However, most authorities seem to think that Maaser Rishon (taken from certain Tevel) should (at least ideally) be given to a Levi even today. See articles about it here, here and here and note that R Karelitz's nephew, R Chaim Kanievsky, writes (Derekh Emunah Terumot 6 Tziyun Hahalakha 78) that the R Karelitz himself was careful to give Maaser Rishon (taken from certain Tevel) to a Levi.

I know of no exemption today from giving Maaser Ani (taken from certain Tevel) to a poor person.

In the case of doubtful gifts where המוציא מחבירו applies: supporting the needy is always a good thing if you can, but we aren't going to force you to do so against your will.

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http://chinuchathome.info/index.php/Halachos-/-Laws/Eretz-Yisrael/Special-Mitzvos-of-Eretz-Yisrael.html

After separation of terumah gedolah, ma'aser rishon is separated from the remainder. How much does one separate? Exactly one-tenth. Ma'aser rishon is not sanctified produce, but rather the private property of the Levi. The Levi may thus sell or give it to a Yisroel, who may then eat it, even when unclean (provided that terumas ma'aswer has been separated). Even today you must take from the best part of the fruits for ma'aser rishon. When you are not sure whether fruits have been tithed, and especially today when there is no Levi of certain descent to claim them, you can eat the ma'aser rishon (after the terumas ma'aser has been separated). (emphasis added)

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This doesn't address the case of Vadai Tevel. A very weak answer if one at all. –  Double AA Aug 7 at 14:41
    
I do not understand your complaint –  user6781 Aug 7 at 14:44
    
Your source discusses Safek Tevel where Hamotzi Meichavero Alav Haraya applies in a completely extrinsic fashion –  Double AA Aug 7 at 15:24
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The permission you quote here is mentioned in the question already, which wonders why not give the maaser anyway. I don't see how this answers the question. –  msh210 Aug 7 at 19:31

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