||A clarification of laws regarding various tithes by R. Ben Zion Yadler, known as the Maggid of Jerusalem (d.1965). many wonderful stories are told about this lovely Jew. R. Yadler would go to the Kotel on Tisha B'av at midnight, when he would begin teaching Midrash. Up till twelve o'clock he wouldn't appear - there were too many 'Zionists' who used to come. But at twelve all would gather together and he would tell them about Jerusalem. On one occasion Arabs began throwing stones, without a second thought he said in Yiddish, "Don't be upset. You wanted them to give you back Erez Israel; they're giving it to you stone by stone."
Terumot and Ma'aserot ("heave offerings," and "tithes"), dues given to the priests and the poor. A number of passages in the Bible deal with ma'aser and according to the halakhah they refer to different categories: the first tithe is given to the levites (Num. 18:21–24); the second tithe is eaten in Jerusalem or redeemed (Deut. 14:22–26); and the tithe that is given to the poor (Deut. 14:28–29 and 26:12). In order to render agricultural produce fit for ordinary consumption (hullin) terumot and ma'aserot had to be allocated from it in the following manner: first terumah was set aside for the priests, and from the remainder a tenth, the first tithe, was given to the levites. The levites then had to give a tithe of this first tithe, called terumat ma'aser or ma'aser min ha-ma'aser ("a tithe of the tithe") to the priests. After terumah and the first tithe were set aside, a second tithe had to be given of the remainder. In the first, second, fourth, and fifth years of the sabbatical cycle this constituted the second tithe, while in the third and sixth years it became the poor man's tithe. The second tithe had either to be taken up to Jerusalem to be eaten there, or redeemed for money and the money plus an added quarter taken to Jerusalem, where it could be spent at the owner's discretion for his upkeep. The tithe given to the poor is not regarded as sacred. On the last day of Passover of the fourth and seventh years a declaration in line with the biblical injunction (Deut. 26:13–15, called "the declaration of the tithe"), which was applied to all tithes, was made.
The Bible does not prescribe a given quantity of terumah. Hence, according to the letter of the Law, the offer of a single ear of wheat should be enough for the whole. However, the rabbis established a quota: "The proper amount of terumah: if a man is liberal it is one-fortieth - Bet Shammai say one-thirtieth - for the average man it is one-fiftieth, and for the niggardly, one-sixtieth" (Ter. 4:3).
Although biblical law confines the duty of giving terumot and ma'aserot to grain, wine, and oil (cf. Deut. 12:17, "the tithe of the corn, the wine, and the oil"), the sages deduced from the Bible that it applied to other produce and fruits and, according to the halakhah, it was further applied to vegetables. The halakhic rule is that "Whatever is food and guarded [i.e, does not grow wild] and grows from the earth is liable to tithes" (Ma'as. 1:1). At the close of the tannaitic era the duty of giving tithes was extended to money as well. Similarly there is evidence of terumah and ma'aser being set aside from all foods, and it would seem that this was "the custom of the pious."
The Bible prescribes a tithe to be set aside from cattle (Lev. 27:32), but this the halakhah treated as a sacrifice (Zev. 5:8). On the other hand a substantial number of sources in the apocryphal halakhah indicate that a tithe of cattle was given to the priest (Jub. 32:15, cf. Philo, Virt. 95, etc.; cf. also II Chron. 31:6). Apparently this was the practice at the beginning of the Second Temple era, while the halakhah that regards the tithe of cattle as a sacrifice consumed by the owner reflects the practice of a later period. Some of the apocryphal sources (Jub. 32:11; Tob. 1:7; etc.) explain the verses of the Bible as if the second tithe was set aside every year (as does also Targ. Jon.), and that three tithes were set aside in the third and sixth years. It seems, however, that this was written according to their understanding of the verses, without subsequent exegesis, and should not be regarded as reflecting actual conditions.
According to theoretical halakhah, the owner of produce can give the terumah and ma'aser (first tithe) anywhere and to any priest or levite he pleases. This halakhah was not in force at the beginning of the Second Temple period. It is seen from the post-Exilic biblical books (Mal. 3:10; Neh. 13:5, etc.), the Apocrypha (Judith 11:13; Tob. 1:6–7; etc.), and Philo (Spec. 1:132–5) that the terumot and ma'aserot were taken to the Temple in Jerusalem (cf. also LXX, Ex. 1:21). It is almost certain that the regulations concerning the bringing of the priestly and levitical gifts to Jerusalem were made in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, as part of their general tendency to enhance the national and economic status of Jerusalem. These regulations also seem to be connected with the working procedures of the priests and levites in the Temple, for in this way the priestly and levitical gifts could all be collected at the Temple and fairly distributed among the priests and levites engaged at the time in the divine service.
No definite time was fixed for carrying the terumot and ma'aserot to Jerusalem, but it may be assumed that they were taken there during the pilgrimage festivals. The second tithe, too, was taken up at that time, as were such other gifts as the firstborn of cattle and the fruit of the fourth year planting, probably for the purpose of "adorning the streets of Jerusalem with fruit" (RH 31b).
Terumot and ma'aserot continued to be set aside also after the destruction of the Temple, when tithing became a kind of substitute for the sanctity of the Temple and the sacrificial service. This is evident from the following incident: "Once Tarfon was late in coming to the bet midrash. Rabban Gamaliel said to him, What is the reason for your delay? He replied: I was performing the [Temple] service. He then said to him: How come? Is there any service nowadays? He answered: It says in the Bible: 'I give you the priesthood as a service of gift' [Num. 18:7], making the eating of food within the borders of Erez Israel equivalent to the service in the Temple" (Sif. Num. 116).