How do I take terumah and maaser from Israeli vegetables?
The halachos of separating Terumos and Maaseros are numerous, but I will go through the basics. First we will go through the actual “what you have to do”, which is actually relatively simple, and then we’ll go into the explanation of what we are actually doing. What you do is, cut off a little bit more than one percent of each type of fruit or vegetable that needs to be taken from. For example if you have cucumber and tomatoes you cut off a little more than one percent of the cucumbers and a little more than a percent of the tomatoes. Then you make a declaration to actually effect the actual taking of the tithes. You will also need a coin that is worth more than a peruta, (or a number of perutas according to the amount of types of items that to are separating from). A peruta as of today is not more than 2-3 cents, so a nickel will suffice –at least for separating one type of fruit etc. If you are separating a number of types, use a quarter. The reason you will need the coin is in order to move the Maser Sheini from the fruit on to the coin.
The actual declaration is this (you may say it in English- it isn’t a teffilah, it is a declaration);
“היותר מאחד ממאה שיש כאן הרי הוא תרומה גדולה בצד צפון*. אותו אחד ממאה שיש כאן ועוד תשעה חלקים כמותו בצד צפון של הפרות* הרי הוא מעשר ראשון. אותו אחד ממאה שעשיתיו מעשר ראשון, עשוי תרומת מעשר*. ומעשר שני או מעשר עני יהא בדרומו*. והמעשר שני, וכן אם הוא רבעי יהא מחולל הוא וחומשו בפרוטה במטבע שיש לי לחילול מעשה שני ורבעי”.
“What is in excess of the 1% that I separated on the northern* side should be Terumah. The actual 1%, plus another nine percent of what is here which is on the northern side of the fruits* should be Maaser Rishon. The actual 1% that was separated and called maser Rishon should now be Trumos Maaser*, and Maaser Sheini or Maaser Oni should be on the southern side of the fruits*. The value of the Maaser Sheini, or if the fruits are Revoi, they should be moved,(Mechulal) it plus another fifth value to the pertuah that I have for the use of Chilul Maaser Shaini.and Revoi”.
After making the declaration out the part that was cut off into a bag and it may be respectfully put into the garbage, but it may not be eaten.
Here is an explanation of the declaration, so you will understand what you actually did, it is important to know what you are doing.
Essentially there are six different tithes, and six different mitzvos (!) that we are fulfilling when we take off the various tithes. We will go through each one and its basic halachos.
- Terumoh- This is the tithe that gets given to the kohen. Teruma is kadosh, and may not be eaten by anyone except a kohen that is tahor. Nowadays that no kohen is tahor and will not be eating the teruma, therefore the amount that has to be separated is a minute amount. This is the “excess of the 1%”. When we make the declaration we are designating it on the northern side, (this is just for clarity sake so it won’t be mixed up).
- Maaser Rishon- The next mitzvah that we have is to separate and give 10% of the produce to a Levi. Maaser Rishon is not kadosh like terumas is and it may be eaten by us. Nowadays that it isn’t clear who actually is a levi, therefore all we have to do is declare it Maaser Rishon, and then we may eat it ourselves. Therefore in the declaration we say that the 1% plus another 9%- a total of 10% should be Maaser Rishon.
- Terumos Maaser- The Levi has a mitzvah, (or if we are eating the Maaser Rishon we have to do it) to give one tenth of the maaser to a kohen. This is called Terumos Maaser, the kohen’s tithe from the Maaser. Essentially it is 1% of the produce, and it is kadosh the same way teruma is, therefore we may not eat it. Therefore we separate it, and declare it Terumos Maaser. Then it gets wrapped up together with the teruma, and isn’t eaten.
- Maaser Sheini and Maaser Oni- We have another mitzvah to take off another 10%, and depending on the year to either bring the produce to Yerushalayim and eat it there (Maaser Sheini), or to give it to a poor person ( Maaser Oni). The way it works is that the produce of the 1th ,2nd,4th ,and 5th years after shemitta we give Maaser Sheini, and the 3rd and 6th year it is Maaser Oni.
Note: if you are separating a very small amount, i. e. from a cookie with fruit in it, and the amount of Maaser Sheini will be worth less than a peruta then, you will need what is called a perta chamura, but I am not getting into that now.
Regarding Maaser Sheini, the torah tells us that if it is too hard to take 10% of the produce to Yerushalayim, we may move the value of the produce and place the kedusha of it on to money, and take the money to Yerushalayim, and use eat it there, however we have to add a fifth. This is known as Chillul Maaser Sheini. Another point is, that we are allowed to move even a lot of value, (even if the value of the 10% was worth hundreds of dollars, and move it onto even one perutah. (This peruta has to eventually get ruined, a process called biur maser sheini). Therefore after we separate the Maaser Sheini we move the kedusha value of the produce on to the designated coin.
- Revoi- We are told that we may not eat the produce of a tree in its first three years, this is called orlah. (Orlah only applies to fruit and not to vegetables). The produce of the next year, the fourth year, is called Revoi, and is taken like Maaser Sheini and eaten in Yerushalayim. We can also move the kedusha of these fruits just like Maaser Sheini as explained above.
Now that we know what you are doing, the procedure should be fairly simple.