1) HALACHAH: GIVING "REISHIS HA'GEZ" IN CHUTZ LA'ARETZ
OPINIONS: The Mishnah states that the Mitzvah of Reishis ha'Gez applies both in Eretz Yisrael and in Chutz la'Aretz, whether the Beis ha'Mikdash is standing or whether it is not standing.
What is the Halachah?
(a) The SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 333:1) rules that the Mitzvah of Reishis ha'Gez applies only in Eretz Yisrael, and even when the Beis ha'Mikdash is not standing.
quotes an opinion (that of the RAMBAN
and MAHARAM MI'ROTENBURG
, as cited by TUR
) that rules that, mid'Oraisa, Reishis ha'Gez must be given in Chutz la'Aretz as well. However, as the Tur and Rema point out, it has become the widespread practice to give Reishis ha'Gez only in Eretz Yisrael and not in Chutz la'Aretz, based on the ruling of Rebbi Ila'i (136b). (Regarding why Reishis ha'Gez is rarely given today even in Eretz Yisrael, see Insights to Chulin 130:2
2) REDEEMING "REISHIS HA'GEZ" OF "HEKDESH"
QUESTION: The Gemara derives from the word, "Tzoncha" (Devarim 18:4), that the wool of sheep of Hekdesh is exempt from Reishis ha'Gez. The Gemara points out that had the verse not taught that sheep of Hekdesh are exempt, the obligation of Reishis ha'Gez indeed would have applied to them. How, though, could one give to a Kohen the shearings of an animal of Hekdesh, when those shearings themselves are Hekdesh? The Gemara explains that had the Mitzvah of Reishis ha'Gez applied to shearings of an animal of Hekdesh, one would have been required to redeem them from Hekdesh and give them to a Kohen.
What is the logic of obligating the shearings to be redeemed from Hekdesh? Let them be given to Hekdesh and not to the Kohanim! (TOSFOS DH Reishis)
ANSWER: The TOSFOS HA'ROSH explains that the Gemara is discussing a situation in which the person who sheared the animals did not know that they were Hekdesh. Since he inadvertently sheared the wool of sheep of Hekdesh, he is Chayav for Me'ilah. As in every case of Me'ilah, the shearings automatically lose their status of Hekdesh and the person is obligated to reimburse Hekdesh with their value. This is the "redeeming" of the shearings to which the Gemara refers.
(The Gemara continues to question its assumption and asks how the shearings can be redeemed if, in order to redeem something from Hekdesh, it must have "Ha'amadah v'Ha'arachah" (it must be "stood up" before the Kohen, which is not possible with a pile of wool). The Tosfos ha'Rosh points out that, apparently, the Gemara is saying that Hekdesh which needs Ha'amadah v'Ha'arachah does not lose its status of Hekdesh even through Me'ilah.)
3) A JOINTLY-OWNED SHEEP
QUESTION: Rebbi Ila'i derives from the word "Tzoncha" (Devarim 18:4) that a sheep owned in partnership with another Jew is exempt from Reishis ha'Gez. He derives from the words "Reishis Degancha" that when the animal is owned in partnership with a Nochri, it is also exempt from Reishis ha'Gez.
Why does Rebbi Ila'i require a separate source for each of these laws? Once the verse teaches that an animal owned in partnership with a Jew is exempt from Reishis ha'Gez, it is obvious that one owned in partnership with a Nochri should be exempt!
ANSWER: If there had been only one source for these Halachos in the verse, then Rebbi Ila'i would have learned that only partnership with a Nochri exempts from Reishis ha'Gez. Since there are two sources in the verse, he uses the second one to exempt a partnership with a Jew from Reishis ha'Gez as well. (M. KORNFELD)
4) PERFORMING MITZVOS WITH JOINTLY-OWNED OBJECTS
QUESTION: Rebbi Ila'i (135a) derives from the word "Tzoncha" (Devarim 18:4) that a sheep owned in partnership with another Jew is exempt from Reishis ha'Gez. Rava teaches that there are a number of places in which the Torah discusses an object in the singular possessive form and, nevertheless, the Mitzvah that applies to it applies even when it is jointly-owned. For example, the Mitzvos of Terumah, Pe'ah, Bechor, and Ma'aser all apply to jointly-owned property. The Torah uses the singular possessive form to teach that when the object is partially owned by a Nochri does the Mitzvah not apply to it. (See previous Insight.)
The Gemara lists another four Mitzvos for which the Torah uses the singular possessive form, and which nevertheless apply to jointly-owned objects. These Mitzvos are Mezuzah, Bikurim, Tzitzis, and Ma'akeh. The Gemara explains that the reason why the Torah uses the singular possessive form for these Mitzvos is to teach other laws. It does not answer, as it does earlier, that the singular possessive form teaches that these Mitzvos apply only to objects owned by Jews, and not to objects partially owned by a Nochri.
Why does the Gemara not give the same answer for all of the cases in which a singular possessive form is used? It should say that in each case, the word is teaching that when the object is partially owned by a Nochri, the Mitzvah does not apply. Why does the Gemara need to give different answers?
ANSWERS: CHIDUSHEI REBBI MEIR SIMCHAH answers that the second group of Mitzvos (Mezuzah, Bikurim, Tzitzis, and Ma'akeh) differ from the first group of Mitzvos (Terumah, Pe'ah, Bechor, and Ma'aser). There is no logical reason to exclude an object partially owned by a Nochri from those Mitzvos, while there is a logical reason to exclude such an object from the first group of Mitzvos. What is this logical difference?
He explains that the difference is based on the purpose of the Mitzvah. The Mitzvos of Terumah, Pe'ah, Bechor, and Ma'aser obligate a person to give of one's possessions to others (Kohen, Levi, poor person). In contrast, the Mitzvos of Mezuzah, Bikurim, Tzitzis, and Ma'akeh obligate a person to do something with one's possessions (but not to give them to someone). A Nochri's partial ownership of an object exempts the Jew from his obligation to give the object to a Kohen (or Levi or poor person); since he cannot give the entire object, he is exempt from giving any part of it. This is what the Torah's use of the singular possessive form for the object teaches.
In contrast, when a Mitzvah involves doing something with an object, and not giving that object to someone, the Mitzvah applies as long as the Jew has partial ownership of the object. There is no reason to exempt him from the Mitzvah just because a person who is not obligated to do the Mitzvah owns a portion of the object.
Accordingly, the Gemara does not explain that the singular possessive word used for the Mitzvos of Mezuzah, Bikurim, Tzitzis, and Ma'akeh is meant to exclude an object that is owned in part by a Nochri, because it is not logical that the Torah would make such an exemption. Therefore, the Gemara gives a different answer for why the singular possessive form is used. (Mordechai Zvi Dicker)