OPINIONS: The Beraisa discusses the "Agardemim," the official appointed to oversee the royal weights and measures. The Beraisa says that a Nochri wine taster who tastes wine from a barrel and puts the rest back into the barrel renders the entire barrel Yayin Nesech, despite the fact that he is merely doing his job. The Beraisa adds that this is the law even if he drinks wine from the barrel with a straw, or he drinks from a cup and returns the rest to the barrel. The Gemara concludes that this clearly means that the wine is forbidden even from benefit, thus disproving the view of Rava (see previous Insight).
What exactly is the Agardemim and why does he drink Jewish wine?
(a) RASHI (DH Agardemim) explains that the Agardemim is an official employed by the king to monitor the amounts which are in barrels of wine, in order to ensure that people not cheat on the amounts that they claim are in their barrels. Rashi quotes the Toras Kohanim (Parshas Kedoshim) which says that an Agardemim should be appointed to oversee that the measures are correct.
The SEDER YAKOV has difficulty with this explanation. If the Agardemim's job is to monitor the amounts of wine in the barrels, why would he taste or drink the wine?
(b) The RI MI'LUNIL gives a different explanation which answers the Seder Yakov's question. He says that the Agardemim does not measure the quantity of the wine in the barrel, but the quality. He is employed by the king to ascertain that the price set by the merchant represents the true quality of the wine. He ensures that people not attempt to sell bad wine as high quality wine.
The words of Rashi on the RIF differ from the words of Rashi on the Gemara. Rashi on the Rif may be expression the explanation of the Ri mi'Lunil. The text of Rashi on the Gemara reads, "li'Shmor ha'Midos" -- "to guard the amounts," while the text of Rashi on the Rif reads, "l'Sha'er ha'Midos" -- "to estimate the amounts." It could be that this estimation refers to price, not to quantity. The Seder Yakov writes that it is possible that the text of Rashi on the Rif is the correct text of Rashi, and it is also the intent of Rashi on the Gemara. However, this approach seems difficult to reconcile with the straightforward understanding of the Toras Kohanim, which discusses measurements, not prices.
The AVODAH BERURAH argues that Rashi on the Gemara means exactly what the text says, that the job of the Agardemim is to measure the amount of wine. Why, then, does the Agardemim taste the wine? The Avodah Berurah proposes that because the Agardemim is always present in the wine market, he often plays another role -- he occasionally acts as an agent between suppliers and consumers. He therefore tastes the wine, the measure of which he inspects, in order to find a buyer who may be interested in this type of wine. He tastes the wine to know its quality and to determine who would want to buy it. (Y. MONTROSE)


QUESTION: The Gemara relates that Reish Lakish went to Batzra, where he saw that the Jewish residents were eating their fruit without separating Terumos u'Ma'aseros. He prohibited them from continuing to do so. When he returned and related the incident to Rebbi Yochanan, Rebbi Yochanan told him that he should immediately go back and tell the people that he had made a mistake. The "Betzer" which the Torah says is part of Eretz Yisrael is not the same as "Batzra," which indeed is not part of Eretz Yisrael.
TOSFOS (DH Betzer) asks that the Gemara assumes that there is no obligation to separate Terumos u'Ma'aseros in Chutz la'Aretz. However, many sources state explicitly that there is an obligation to separate Terumos u'Ma'aseros in Chutz la'Aretz. For example, the Gemara in Bechoros (27a) lists many leniencies which apply to the Terumah of Chutz la'Aretz, such as that one may start eating first and separate the Terumah afterward, and that Terumah of Chutz la'Aretz is Batel b'Rov. This clearly shows that there is an obligation of Terumah in Chutz la'Aretz as well. How is the Gemara here to be reconciled with the Gemara elsewhere?
(a) TOSFOS quotes others who suggest that the only types of produce from which one must separate Terumah in Chutz la'Aretz are grains, grapes, and olives. These are the only things that the Torah explicitly obligates in Terumos u'Ma'aseros; the obligation to separate Terumos u'Ma'aseros from all other types of produce is mid'Rabanan. Since the obligation to separate Terumos u'Ma'aseros from grains, grapes, and olives in Eretz Yisrael is mid'Oraisa, the Rabanan were stringent with those items and enacted that one must separate Terumos u'Ma'aseros from them in Chutz la'Aretz. When Reish Lakish went to Batzra and saw the residents eating vegetables without separating Terumah, he thought that they were in Eretz Yisrael and thus told them that it was prohibited. They certainly separated Terumos u'Ma'aseros from their grains, grapes, and olives.
Tosfos rejects this answer, based on the Gemara in Berachos (36a). The Gemara there discusses the status of Orlah of the Tzelaf (the caper fruit) in Chutz la'Aretz. According to the above explanation, there should be no such thing as an Isur of Orlah on Tzelaf in Chutz la'Aretz.
(b) Tosfos quotes RABEINU TAM who explains that Reish Lakish saw that the people were not separating Terumos u'Ma'aseros from Demai (produce on which there is a doubt about whether Terumah was separated). However, as indicated by the other Gemaras, there is an obligation to separate Terumos u'Ma'aseros from definite Tevel in Chutz la'Aretz as well.
(c) Tosfos quotes RABEINU DAVID MI'MEILAN who explains that Reish Lakish merely saw that the residents of Batzra were using the leniencies listed in Bechoros (27a, such as Bitul b'Rov) in their city. He told the people that they may not use such leniencies, since he thought that the city was in Eretz Yisrael.
Tosfos notes that none of the three explanations which he cites is consistent with the custom today of not separating Terumos u'Ma'aseros in Chutz la'Aretz at all. What basis is there for this practice?
1. Rabeinu Tam suggests that the lands that Jews own today are all on lien to Nochrim, who can seize them if the Jews do not pay. Therefore, the land is not really owned by a Jew, and thus its produce is not obligated in Terumos u'Ma'aseros.
The RI argues with this explanation. In the times of the Gemara, the lands of the Jews had a similar status (see Bava Basra 54b), and yet they still separated Terumos u'Ma'aseros. Moreover, many Jewish-owned lands are not collateralized to Nochrim, and yet the Jewish owners still do not separate Terumos u'Ma'aseros.
2. The Ri therefore suggests that only the lands close to Eretz Yisrael, such as Mitzrayim, Amon, Moav, and Bavel have an obligation (d'Rabanan) of Terumos u'Ma'aseros, in order that people not come to be lenient in Eretz Yisrael. Places that are far away from Eretz Yisrael were never obligated in Terumos u'Ma'aseros. The Yerushalmi in Chalah (4:4) states that the "Rovim" (see AVODAH BERURAH) terminated the practice of separating Terumos u'Ma'aseros even in lands close to Eretz Yisrael
HALACHAH: Does anyone maintain that one should separate Terumos u'Ma'aseros in Chutz la'Aretz? The RAMBAM (Hilchos Terumos 1:1) rules like the opinion of the Ri without the Yerushalmi and says that one must separate Terumos u'Ma'aseros from places adjacent to Eretz Yisrael. However, the custom is not to do so. The DERECH EMUNAH (ibid., 1:12) writes that though this is not the custom, it is a "Midas Chasidus" to separate Terumos u'Ma'aseros in those places. The TZIYUN HALACHAH (ibid., 1:30) relates that there were minority opinions that actually ruled that one should separate Terumos u'Ma'aseros in all of Chutz la'Aretz. He relates that RABEINU EFRAIM used to separate Terumah from his wine and give it to Kohanim who were minors (who not yet become Tamei with Tum'ah ha'Yotzei mi'Gufo; see Bechoros 27a). He also quotes the TOSFOS MA'ASEH RAV who relates that when the VILNA GA'ON prepared the wheat for his Matzos which he grew on his own plot of land near Vilna, he separated Terumos u'Ma'aseros from the wheat. However, this not the custom. (Y. MONTROSE)