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Bikkurim 1:2, with my somewhat rough translation:

האריסין והחכורות והסקריקון והגזלן אין מביאים מאותו הטעם משום שנאמר ראשית ביכורי אדמתך

Sharecroppers, muggers,1 and thieves do not bring Bikkurim [from the sharecropped or stolen land] for this same reason - because the verse [in Shemos 23] says, “The first fruits of the land.”

1 - I’m not sure of a more accurate word in English for סקריקון. Bartenura translates it as one who threatens to kill people if they don’t give him their land.

We have a general principle called Mitzvah HaBa’ah BeAveirah - a mitzvah performed by violating an aveirah - which is rejected (Sukkah 30a et. al.). Now, a thief is in violation of Lo Sasig, the prohibition against stealing land (see Rashi to Devarim 19:14, quoting Sifrei there), and the mugger is in violation of Lo Sachmod, the prohibition against coveting (see BM 5b). So why do we need to derive these cases from Shemos 23, when even had the passuk not been written we would have forbidden such Bikkurim?

Granted, the passuk would have to have been written for the other cases in the Mishnah (sharecroppers, plus the various cases from Mishnah 1). My question is on the wording “they don’t bring for this reason” - implying that they don’t bring only because of this reason. This isn’t true by muggers and thieves - they can’t bring for other reasons, either!

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  • I believe that the phrase is "Mitzvah HaBa'ah BeAveirah", not MeAverah. That changes the meaning, and I believe the parameters of this theory are that if the Aveirah and Mitzvah are done with the same action, the Aveirah cancels out the Mitzvah. However, if the Aveirah and Mitzvah are separate actions, they don't cancel each other out. In your example, the stealing of the land is one action, and the bringing of the Bikkurim is another action, so they don't cancel each other out. Nov 21 '17 at 21:44
  • Do they also not take terumah and maaser? I'm pretty sure they have to, maybe they don't say a bracha but they downgrade from kareis for eating it to plain stealing. Also see the Artscroll mishnayos Kilayim 7:6 in their later explanation (I think from Rabbi Akiva Eiger), who explains the mishna differently from everyone else and implies that a thief is responsible to get rid of kilayim. That might be different since kilayim is a lo saaseh.
    – Heshy
    Nov 21 '17 at 21:47
  • @Salmononius2 The original case is a stolen lulav, so that puts a hole in that theory. You are correct about BeAveirah, though - updating now.
    – DonielF
    Nov 21 '17 at 21:47
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    I think it's actually baaveirah since the ayin has a chataf patach. Doesn't change the meaning.
    – Heshy
    Nov 21 '17 at 21:48
  • @DonielF Maybe the item itself has to be the stolen item? I know I'm not entirely making what I wrote up, but might have gotten some details wrong. Contrast Lulav with a stolen Shofar, which is allowed to be used for the Mitzvah, since (I believe this might be the Rambam's position?) the sound itself isn't stolen, just the Shofar. Nov 21 '17 at 21:55

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