The Rambam (Ma'aser 3:3), apparently based on the Yerushalmi (Ma'asrot 4:1), lists six things that make food fixed (קבע) in the obligation for ma'aser: bringing it into a courtyard, buying/selling, fire, salt, separating teruma, and Shabbat (the Ra'avad says he should have also added pickling). Later (4:2) he clarifies that all these things, except for bringing into the house, are forbidden from the rabbis.

These thing are all mentioned throughout the Mishna in Ma'asrot (3:5, 4:1-3) as making food obligated in ma'aser. However, as presented by the Mishna, there is another thing mentioned throughout (2:5, 3:3 3:8-10, 4:5) that makes food obligated, namely, taking a lot at once. For example, taking more than one fig or grain of barley at a time means that it becomes obligated in ma'aser and it can no longer be eaten informally (עראי). The Rambam also mentions this as the definition of informal eating (3:19, quoting 4:5), but not as part of the list of six things.

Is there any legal difference between the six things that make produce fixed for ma'aser, and taking many pieces of food at a time? I don't see any such distinction made by the Mishna. But in the Rambam's scheme, it seems from a superficial reading as if he makes a distinction.

For example, the Rambam says you can make someone else's produce obligated in ma'aser by doing one of the six things, but he doesn't make this explicit about taking a lot of food together at once (Ma'aser 3:7). So in this case, a literal reading would be that if you take two of your friend's figs, your friend can still eat them separately without taking ma'aser. This could be reasonable, because (as the Rambam presents it) you're allowed to eat the food informally before one of the six things happen to the food, so it might depend more on the person eating it than on what happens to the food itself. However, the Mishna itself uses for all of these cases the same wording of חייב (which, however, does have two possible meanings: "he is obligated," or "it is obligated").

So does the Rambam really mean to distinguish between taking a lot of food together, and other actions that make food fixed for ma'aser? If so, what's the Rambam's source for this distinction?

  • judaism.stackexchange.com/a/84783/759 Those six things don't make it obligated in Maaser. Something being obligated in Maaser, something being fixed for Maaser, and something being a non-temporary manner of consumption are three different categories which you don't seem to be clearly distinguishing. – Double AA Jun 21 at 13:26
  • @DoubleAA I used the language the Mishna uses when quoting the Mishna, and the language the Rambam uses when quoting the Rambam. The Mishna says חייב about all of them. The case here is your second and third categories which the Mishna doesn't seem to distinguish but the Rambam does – b a Jun 21 at 13:29
  • @ba If you're deliberately using original language [to the point of obfuscation] I think you should put the relevant ambiguous terminology in quotes to indicate the exact sourcing and that the words shouldn't necessarily be taken in their ordinary senses. – Double AA Jun 21 at 13:37
  • @DoubleAA "Obligation" is a general concept that can apply both גמר and קבע, and the entire question is about קבע so there is no obfuscation between those two. It's only obfuscation between becoming fixed and eating in a non-temporary manner if you presuppose the Rambam's categories, but the question is about the Rambam's categories – b a Jun 21 at 13:46
  • I haven't presupposed anyone's categories. Just encouraged you to write clearer. If you don't want to have assigned categories, be clear in your writing that you aren't – Double AA Jun 21 at 13:51

Here is an element of answer. My understanding is based on Gemara BM 88a and Tosfot d.h Baal Habayit. There are additional Shitot.

The owner, when he finished the work, the harvesting is ready, takes it at home and then he cannot eat without Maaser. But there is an opinion in Gemara, saying that for fruits that need goren before consumption, e.g. wheat, grape that need to become wine, the duty is before the home, it's beginning from the harvesting. For fruits immediately consumable, as grape that needs to be eaten as fruits, the duty begins at home. The Raavad maasrot 4.1 rules as this last opinion.

There is a rabbinic duty, regarding a situation in which the owner doesn't want to take the fruits at home, and someone buy an amount of fruits.In this situation, since the work is finished, and something replaces the home taking, there is a rabbinic duty. This is the opinion of Tosfot 88a, but Rashi explains that for the buyer duty, we don't need the true end of the work, but the Gemara at the begining of the suggia was thinking that there are min Hatora two ends of work, one for the owner and one for the buyer. But in conclusion there is only the goren of the owner who take his fruits at home. There is no fundamental difference between Rashi and Tosfot regarding the explanation of the duty of the buyer.

The end of the work is for the owner who takes fruits at home, is when he brings together all the fruits, or, more accurately, when he begins to make this. If he decides to take the fruits in the market to sell them, he is patur from maaser by the Tora rule, but rabbinically he is chayav. There is a kind of mini harvesting, rabbinically speaking, when he sells a part of the fruits and want to take at home, afterwards, the major part of the harvesting., To buy a minimum of 2 fruits as Gemara and Tosfot BM 88 d.h Baal Habayit said.

To make a real meal can rabbinically replace the home meal. If the work is finished and the owner eats two fruits, or eats a cooken meal, there is a rabbinic duty.

Several things can make the eating a serious meal. If the fruits became prepared by cooking, or salting, or the timing, if the time is a time of great meal, as Shabbat.

For salt (ספיתה) without any duty because of selling, we need also two fruits for gmar melacha. Whe need two fruits to have a concurrence against the greet goren, and then there is Gmar Melacha, and we need a kviut of eating by salt. This regards the owner. When there is a selling, we have a gmar Melacha and the selling is a rabbinic equivalent of entering at home. If we have two fruits, without selling and without salt, there is no prohibition, it is still an achilat arayi (BM 89b)



ב,ה האומר לחברו הא לך איסר זה, ותן לי בו חמש תאנים--לא יאכל עד שיעשר, דברי רבי מאיר. רבי יהודה אומר, אוכל אחת אחת, ופטור; ואם צירף, חייב. אמר רבי יהודה, מעשה בגינת ורדים שהייתה בירושלים, והיו תאניה נמכרות משלוש ומארבע באיסר; ולא הופרש ממנה תרומה ומעשר מעולם

Mishna 2.6

ב,ו האומר לחברו הא לך איסר זה בעשרים תאנים שאבור לי, בורר ואוכל. באשכול שאבור לי, מגרגר ואוכל. ברימון שאבור לי, פורט ואוכל. באבטיח שאבור לי, סופת ואוכל. אבל אם אמר בעשרים תאנים אלו, בשני אשכולות אלו, בשני רימונים אלו, בשני אבטיחים אלו--אוכל כדרכו ופטור, מפני שקנה במחובר לקרקע


פורט עיי' פ"א נ"ד. דמדאין המקח נגמר עד אחר שתלשו מקח בתלוש קובע למעשר ואף לאכלו עראי והרי כשתלש איזה מהן נגמ"ל מדאין לו גמ"ל אחרת. אבל לגרגר ולפרוט מותר דבכה"ג לא נגמ"ל גם לקונה והרי כל ז' הדברים [פ"א נ"ג] אין קובעים רק בנגמ"ל [ועי' רפ"ג]:

Buyng makes a chyuv maaser only if the kinyan is on fruits already separated from the tree, and is after harvesting. When it is the case, informal eating is prohibited before maaser taking. The Mishna is talking about fruits in the garden or the field. The buying replaces the home taking after harvesting. See below Mishna 5.1

Mishne Tora

ה,ב הלוקח במחובר לקרקע, או שלקח תלוש לשלח לחברו--לא נקבעו, ויש לו לאכול מהן עראי. [ג] האומר לחברו הא לך איסר זה, ותן לי בו חמש תאנים--הרי זה אוכל אחת אחת, ופטור; ואם צירף, חייב לעשר.

Mishna 3.2

ג,ב המוציא את פועליו בשדה--בזמן שאין להם עליו מזונות, אוכלין ופטורין; אבל אם יש להם עליו מזונות, אוכלין אחת אחת מן התאנה, אבל לא מן הסל ולא מן הקופה ולא מן המוקצה.

Mishna 3.3

ג,ג השוכר את הפועל לעשות עימו בזיתים--אמר לו על מנת לאכול בזיתים, אוכל אחת אחת ופטור; ואם צירף, חייב. לנכש בבצלים--אמר לו על מנת לאכול ירק, מקרטם עלה עלה ואוכל; ואם צירף, חייב.

Halachot of the worker are conitioned by a special status, he can eat how many as he wants when he is working at the time of harvesting. But in other times, the Tora doesn't give him this status. So he eats as if he buyed the fruits, and has a din of buyer, and if he accumulates fruits, we have harvesting and buying, he cannot eat, even informally. When he makes with the owner some conditions of eating, regarding quantity, Rashi and Rambam hold that he has a rabbinical status of buyer and cannot accumulate. Rabenu Tam disagrees.

Mishne Tora

ה,יב [י] שכרו לנכש עימו בזיתים, והתנה הפועל שיאכל בזיתים--הרי זה אוכל מן האילן אחת אחת, ופטור; ואם צירף, חייב. [יא] שכרו לנכש בבצלים, והתנה לאכול ירק--מקרסם עלה עלה, ואוכל; ואם צירף, חייב.

[יא] שכרו לנכש בבצלים, והתנה לאכול ירק--מקרסם עלה עלה, ואוכל; ואם צירף, חייב.

ה,יג קצץ הפועל שיאכל ליטרה של זיתים, אוכל אחת אחת; ואם צירף, חייב לעשר הואיל והוא אוכל דבר קצוב, הרי זה כלוקח שאם צירף נקבע.

ה,יד לא קצץ, אלא היה אוכל בדין תורה--מצרף ואוכל כל מה שירצה: והוא, שלא יספות במלח. אבל אם ספת במלח אחת אחת, מותר; שתיים שתיים--אסור, שהרי נקבעו במלח.

Mishna 3.8

ג,ח תאנה שהיא עומדת בחצר--אוכל אחת אחת, ופטור; ואם צירף, חייב. רבי שמעון אומר, אחת בימינו ואחת בשמאלו ואחת בפיו. עלה לראשה--ממלא את חיקו, ואוכל.

Melechet Shelomo

אוכל אחת אחת. אבל שתים לא דהוי גרן וראיית פני חצר בבת אחת ובהא מודה ר' טרפון

Two fruits from a Fig tree that is in the courtyard, we have harvesting and courtyard, generating together a chyuv, the fruits need terumot and maasrot. We are speaking even about the owner.

Mishne Tora

,יד [טו] תאנה שהיא עומדת בחצר--אוכל ממנה אחת אחת, ופטור; ואם צירף, חייב במעשר. במה דברים אמורים, בשהיה עומד בקרקע. אבל אם עלה לראש התאנה--ממלא את חיקו ואוכל שם, שאין אוויר החצר קובע למעשר

Mishna 3.9

ג,ט גפן שהיא נטועה בחצר, נוטל את כל האשכול; וכן ברימון, וכן באבטיח, דברי רבי טרפון. רבי עקיבה אומר, מגרגר באשכול, ופורט ברימון, וסופת באבטיח. כוסבר שהיא זרועה בחצר--מקרטם עלה עלה, ואוכל; ואם צירף, חייב. הסיאה והאיזוב והקורנית שבחצר--אם היו נשמרין, חייבין

The Mishna treats the case of the owner in his courtyard. The permitted informal eating is only when there is no harvesting. This case is similar to the case in Mishna 2.6 (Rash, Melechet Shelomo, TYT). There, the buyer is a rabbinic equivalent of the owner in his courtyard. Therefore we only miss harvesting to prohibit informal eating. This is true for Rabbi Akiva only. For Rabbi Tarfon, the Yerushalmi gives a pair of interpretations.

Mishne Tora

ד,יז [יח] כוסבר שהיא זרועה בחצר, מקרסם עלה עלה ואוכל; ואם צירף, חייב לעשר. וכן כל כיוצא בזה.

Mishna 3.10

ג,י תאנה שהיא עומדת בחצר, ונוטה לגינה--אוכל כדרכו, ופטור. עומדת בגינה, ונוטה לחצר--אוכל אחת אחת, ופטור; ואם צירף, חייב. עומדת בארץ ונוטה לחוצה לארץ, או עומדת בחוצה לארץ ונוטה לארץ--הכול הולך אחר העיקר; ובבתי ערי חומה, הכול הולך אחר העיקר. ובערי מקלט, הכול הולך אחר הנוף; ובירושלים, הכול הולך אחר הנוף.

The owner, when he wants to take all the harvesting at home, and he still didn't leave the garden, can accumulate a quantity of fruits and eat them. Because there is no gemar melacha, regarding the owner who looks for a broader quantity of fruits, there is no problem to eat a great quantity. See the drasha in Gemara BM 87b.
כנפשך כנפש של בעל הבית כך נפשו של פועל מה נפשך אוכל ופטור אף נפשו של פועל אוכל ופטור 

The owner and the worker who can eat from the Tora eat normally without problem of maasrot. For the buyer there is an asmachta teaching that rabbinically he cannot.

Mishna 5.1

לקח במחובר לקרקע, פטור; לקח לשלוח לחברו, פטור

The buyer has this stringency only if he buyed the fruits after their separation from the tree.

So, now we understand the Rambam 3.3

אבל אם הייתה כוונתו להוליכן לבית--הרי זה מותר לאכול מהן עראי אחר שנגמרה מלאכתן, עד שייקבעו למעשר. [ג] ואחד משישה דברים קובע למעשרות, ואלו הן--הבית, והמקח, והאש, והמלח, והתרומה, והשבת; וכולן, אין קובעין אלא בדבר שנגמרה מלאכתו.

After gmar melacha, which can be accumulation of two fruits, house, selling, fire, salt, teruma, Shabbat. The concept of two fruits is not one of the six, it is the prerequisite.

And as says the Rambam in the first statement, the is part of Halacha 2 in standard editions, if there is a gmar melacha without one of the six steps enumerated, the owner can eat how many as he wants together.

  • For the owner no, he is taking 1000 fruits. – kouty Jul 12 at 4:15
  • I need to read again. But if I understand right, achilat keva stringency addresses the quatily, not the quantity. But the two fruits are a prerequisite before achilat keva, a minigoren. An additional point regards the owner only. Sefita bamalach. For the owner too, two fruits in salt is a mini goren. For the buyer, the simple fact that he accumulates two fruits prohibits achilat arayi.bli neder I will learn again and enhance the answer – kouty Jul 12 at 5:08
  • We needs to understand accurately the Gemara BM 89b about sefita. – kouty Jul 12 at 11:01
  • I seen the Bartenura in 4.5 It seems that the problem is concurrency with the great goren. I it's far from the time of the great goren, there is concurrency, a mini goren, that is two fruits. If it is close to the time of the big goren there is no problem. The Mishna talks about the owner – kouty Jul 12 at 11:08
  • Yes. But without sefita it cannot be goren for the owner because that thanks to the sefita he cannot מחזיר – kouty Jul 12 at 14:27

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