Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Siyyum Masaechet Challah Talmud Yerushalmi

                                                     This siyyum is dedicated to my dear sister Batsheva bat Chana Bluma   
                                   and her husband  Raphael ben Miryam may Hashem grant them perfect health

With the help of Hashem yitbarach I recently finished the study of another masechet of the Talmud Yerushalmi, masechet Challah. The general subject of the masechet is the mitzvah of hafrashat challah, taking a certain amount of the dough that is made from the five grains (wheat, oats barley spelt and rye) as an offering it to the Cohanim. According to the law of the Torah this is a mitzvah only in Eretz Yisrael but Chazal extended it to chutz laaretz with some differences in the observance of the mitzvah

The last Mishnsh in the masechet deals with  the laws of taking challah in chutz laaretz and goes on to compare it to the mitzvah of  bikkurim (first fruits) and asks if there is a case where bikkurim can be brought from chutz laaretz.. The gemarra learns the halacha from a case that came before the sages. A certain Jew named Ariston brought bikkurim from Apamia ( a region of Syria) and the sages accepted it. This requires an explanation since the basic law of the Torah is that bikkurim are only brought from Eretz Yisrael. We learned in the Mishna (48A) He who buys land in Syria is as if he bought land close to Jerusalem.That is to say that  Syria which was conquered by King David even though it is not part of the inheritance of the tribes promised by Hashem in the Torah, has some of the holiness of Eretz Yisrael and Chazal decided that it is permissable (although not obligatory) to bring bikkurim from those regions of Syria which were conquered by King David. The Bavli (Gittin 8A) says that it is permissable even to ask a non Jew to write a deed on Shabbat for the purchase of land in Syria. The Yerushalmi extends this to the bringing of bikkurim from Syria. The question remains why bikkurim is different than Truma which  definitely cannot be brought from chutz laaretz including Syria. This is difficult since in most respects bikkurim is similar to truma. The Yerushalmi explains that the difference is that bikkurim is the sole responsibility of he who brings it. He has the responsibility of bringing the bikkurim to the Kohen in the Temple, whereas truma is left on the threshing floor and the Kohen is himself responsible for taking it. If it were permissible to bring truma from Syria than the kohanim would be tempted to leave Eretz Yisrael and go to Syria to take the truma, and Syria even though it has some of the holiness of Eretz Yisrael it also has tumat eretz ha amim. There is no such problem with bikkurim since it must be brought to the Temple and the Kohen does not go out to get it.

There is another difference between truma and bikkurim. Truma is an obligation that must be given to the Kohen. Bikkurim on the other hand is more an expression of thanksgiving to Hashem for giving us the blessing of sustenence. I would learn a kal vachomer from bikkurim to limud Torah. If we express thanksgiving to Hashem tor granting us earthly blessings  how much more so must we thank Hashem for giving us the opportunity of learning his holy Torah, every masechet, perek and pasuk.

                                          Hadran alach masechet Challah