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When one separates the "first tithe", which needs to be given to a ben Levi, may he give it to a kohen instead on the grounds that he is of Levi lineage?

Would this at least work b'di'avad to relieve the rest of his crop of tevel status (assuming t'ruma had been separated as well) since the kohen could use some part of what he received for ma'aser as t'rumas ma'aser himself (citation needed)?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

This is the subject of a dispute between R' Akiva and R' Elazar ben Azaryah in Yevamos 86a-b: R' Akiva says that it must be given to a Levi, R' Elazar says it can be given to a Kohen as well. (The Levi'im failed to come with Ezra to Eretz Yisrael, as described in Ezra 8:15, and the Gemara says that he penalized them for this; the underlying argument is exactly what form this penalty took.)

The Mechaber (Yoreh De'ah 331:19) follows R' Akiva and says that it should be given to a Levi, but Rema there cites Tur that it may be given to a kohen instead (in accordance with R' Elazar ben Azaryah's view).

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