By Rabbi Yehoshua Berman
Yevamos 74 – Also this Have I Given to You
As a conclusion to the question of whether or not someone who is not circumcised can eat maaser sheini, the Gemara brings the statement of Rabi Yitzchak who unequivocally paskens that it is forbidden. His source is a gezeirah shavah: both by maaser sheini and by korban Pesach we find the word “mimenu” three times. Therefore, we learn out that just as by korban Pesach an areil cannot eat it, so too regarding maaser sheini an areil cannot eat it. Since one of the three times it says “mimenu” by korban Pesach seems completely unnecessary, it justifies and mandates this derasha.
The Gemara continues, though, that there is an opinion that a gezeirah shavah can be rejected on the basis of logical disparity unless it is mufneh from both sides. In other words, unless you can also pinpoint one of the three times it says “mimenu” in the context of maaser sheini as being seemingly superfluous, this derasha will not hold up according to this opinion, since korban Pesach is more chamur than maaser sheini in numerous ways.
To resolve this potential difficulty, the Gemara says that we can in fact “free up” one of the times it says “mimenu” by maaser sheini. Rabi Yochanan learned therefrom that whereas maaser sheini may not be used as fuel for fire if it became tamei, terumah can. This, concludes the Gemara, we really already know from a different derasha. There is a pasuk that says, “And I, behold I have given you the guarding’s of My terumos.” Since the word terumos is plural, it must be referring to two types of terumah: the one being tahor, and the other being tamei. Regarding both of them the pasuk says “I have given you”. Therefore, we see that even terumah that has become tamei is given to the Kohein for his usage, namely to use as fuel for fire.
Rashi told us earlier (68b) that terumah is representative of the entire kedusha of Kehunah. The high and exalted status of the Kohanim is, to a great extent, most powerfully manifest in their singular honor that they are given and can eat terumah. Of course, they have a mitzvah to safeguard the purity of the terumah just as they have a mitzvah to safeguard the purity of their own kedusha.
When terumah becomes tamei, it can be a “hard hit” to the Kohein. Here is this food item that was meant to be eaten b’kedusha v’taharah, and it became tamei and got ruined. It can feel not only like a loss of something precious, but a failure to maintain the standards of his own status of importance.
And, yet, the Torah calls this a gift. “And I, behold I have given you the guarding’s of My terumos.” Even terumah temeiah is a gift to the Kohein. He can use it as fuel for fire. True, it can no longer serve the primary, illustrious purpose for which it was meant, but what it can now be used for is also important, and should also be understood as a gift from Hashem.
Underscoring this point is the word, Va’ani, “And I”. The pasuk emphasizes, “I am the one giving you this gift.” Even though it seems like a disappointment, and your knee-jerk reaction is understandably to feel like this valuable object was ruined; nevertheless, remind yourself that Hashem is still giving you something. For whatever reason, He decided that instead of using it in the normal way, you’ll have it to use in a different way. Ultimately, whichever manner is the ratzon Hashem that it should be used, is of course the best way; and even if one’s own negligence was involved, Hashem nonetheless affords the opportunity to be able to take a seemingly negative situation and turn it into something positive. Even when you feel like something important got ruined, you never know, it may very well be that it is but a shift in direction for the purpose that it is now meant to serve. And this is also a gift from Hashem.
Rabbi Yehoshua Berman serves as the Rosh Kollel of Kollel Reshet HaDaf in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel. Driven by a passion to generate true kinyan Torah, both for himself and others, Rabbi Berman develops innovative tools to getting the most out of what we learn. In addition to having authored the warmly acclaimed Reflections on the Parsha, Rabbi Berman regularly delivers shiurim whose topics range from Halacha to Hashkafa, sends out daily emails of comprehensive chazara questions for the advanced Daf Yomi learner who really wants to retain his learning, and weekly emails of words of inspiration based on the Parsha. For more information on Reflections, to subscribe to receive these emails, or request a speaking engagement, Rabbi Berman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.