Paying for Terumah – Bava Metzia 54


By: Rabbi Avrohom Adler


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The Gemora cites a braisa:

If someone steals terumah but did not eat it, he pays keifel (double) the value of the terumah. If he ate it (accidentally after he stole it), he pays twice the principle plus one fifth. The value of one principle plus one fifth is from chulin produce, and one principle is paid with money according to the value of terumah.





The gemora in Pesachim (32a) is uncertain what the halachah is if one steals terumah from a Kohen and he eats it. Does he pay according to the measure – that is, he pays with unconsecrated produce in the amount of terumah produce that he stole – even if the produce went up in value? Or perhaps he pays according to the value which he stole, and therefore, if the produce price went up in value, he can give less produce which equals the value in which he stole. The Gemora does not resolve this.


The Mishnah Lamelech wonders how it would be evaluated according to value. Do we evaluated how much the stolen terumah itself is worth (which would be less than chulin), or do we view it as if it would have been chulin produce? He cites an opinion of the Ra”sh that it is evaluated as if it would have been chulin produce.


The Tosfos Yom Tov derives from Rashi in our sugya that he pays according to the value of terumah.


The Minchas Chinuch makes the following distinction: If a non-Kohen eats terumah that belongs to him (it was inherited from his mother’s father), he can pay according to the value of terumah, for the payment is not on account of stealing; rather, it is to receive atonement for his sin. However, a non-Kohen who steals terumah and eats it, he must pay according to its value as if it would be chulin produce. This is because of the following: If he would pay a lesser amount of chulin produce, immediately after he designates the produce for payment, which serves as his atonement, the produce becomes terumah. This would cause the price to drop, and it would emerge that he is paying less than the value of terumah in which he stole.



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