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5 Tishrei 5760 - September 15, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Rabbonim and Mashgichim Prepare for Ma'aser Oni Year

by Betzalel Kahn

Rabbonim and kashrus supervisors, along with scores of mashgichim working in markets, factories and packaging companies all over the country, held a special meeting last week. The purpose of the meeting was the study of halachos and practical guidelines related to the year in which the obligation to take ma'aser oni applies: the forthcoming year of 5660.

There is a six year cycle of different ma'asros. Every year of the six we have to give terumah. The first two years we give ma'aser rishon and ma'aser sheini, the third year we give ma'aser rishon and ma'aser oni. The fourth, fifth and sixth years repeat the pattern of the first three. The seventh year (5661) is shmittah when we do not give any matonos from whatever produce grows because it must be left as hefker.

The meeting, held in the auditorium of the Religious Council in Jerusalem, was opened by the Director of the Department for Land-Related Laws, Rabbi Shlomo Shmulevitz. He, along with Rabbi Binyomin Chazan, spoke about Department preparations for the year of ma'aser oni, while detailing the pertinent procedures from both an halachic and a practical point of view: separating of ma'aser oniand actually giving of it to the poor when the produce is certainly tevel.

Rabbinical authority of the department, HaRav Yosef Efrati, opened with an halachic discussion in which he noted the need to deepen the awareness of the land-related laws, including the matter of the separation of ma'aser oni which we are required to separate and give to the poor when we are separating from absolute tevel, according to Torah law.

"In order to not to be guilty of stealing from the poor, we have made an arrangement with Rabbi Yaakov Wiesel of Yad Eliezer, who will serve as an agent of the poor. We will purchase all of the ma'aser oni from the owners and transfer it via an agent to Yad Eliezer, that is to the poor. Then the organization will forego the ma'aser it acquired in exchange for a specific quantity of fruit which it will receive, or for monetary compensation which the owners will pay to Yad Eliezer," he explained.

He then explained the authorization process, in which the owner of the produce agrees to pay the organization the amount of money (or a corresponding amount of fruit) according to the agreement made between him and the Chief Rabbinate of Jerusalem.

In the course of the discussion, the practical procedure of the transfer was explained. It will be carried out by a third party (who is not a shaliach), by means of hagbohas sudar, whereby he will rent four square tefochim for one hour in the doorway of his own home to Rabbi Wiesel of Yad Eliezer. Along with that property (agav), Rabbi Wiesel will purchase the ma'aser oni of the particular store or factory. Yad Eliezer will receive the fruit or monetary compensation for the purpose of distributing it to the poor.

It should be noted that the procedures and guidelines which were issued for the inspectors and mashgichim constitute a summary of many earlier discussions. The questions which were raised were decided upon by the posek hador,, HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv. These guidelines offer practical answers to the separation of ma'aser oni in markets, factories and packing houses, and the giving of them to the poor, all in line with all the shittos and the greatest hiddurim.

Greetings were delivered by the Chairman of the Religious Council, Rabbi Yitzchok Ralbag, who mentioned the unique capacity of those who safeguard kashrus. While involved in their sacred labor, they are able to spread the light of Yiddishkeit and teshuvah to fellow Jews who are distant from Torah, he said.

Deputy Chairman of the Jerusalem Religious Council and Director of the Kashrus Department, Rabbi Yehoshua Pollack, expanded on the devotion demanded of the mashgichim and those involved in the matnos kehuna and levia, noting that fulfillment of the mitzva of ma'aser oni, which is considered one of the mitzvos between man and man, has the capacity to expedite the building of the beis hamikdosh. When it is rebuilt, we will also be able to observe the mitzvos of ma'aser rishon and ma'aser sheini according to halocho.

At the end of the meeting, the inspectors and mashgichim were praised for their dedication and strengthening of the walls of kashrus through their devotion to strict, meticulous procedure.

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