THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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CHULIN 131 - Dedicated anonymously by a subscriber in Har Nof towards a
Refu'ah Shelemah for Yehoshua Heshel ben Ayeleth.
1) A KOHEN WHO SEIZES "MATNOS KEHUNAH"
QUESTION: Rav Chisda (130b) rules that one who damages or eats Matnos
Kehunah is exempt from compensation. The Gemara gives two reasons for Rav
Chisda's ruling. First, the verse (Devarim 18:3) teaches that only the
actual Matnos Kehunah must be given to a Kohen, but not compensation for
them. Second, since there is no claimant (since no specific Kohen can
claim the damages), one is exempt from paying. Since the owner may give
the gifts to any Kohen he chooses, no individual Kohen can claim exclusive
rights to the gifts. Hence, they are "Mamon she'Ein Lo Tov'im" -- a debt
that has no legal claimants.
2) PAYING ONE'S DEBTS WITH "MATNOS KEHUNAH"
The Gemara attempts to refute Rav Chisda's ruling from several sources.
One of the sources (cited at the end of 130b) is a Tosefta that implies
that a Yisrael who eats Terumah is obligated to pay the Kohen its value,
contrary to Rav Chisda's ruling. The Gemara answers that the obligation to
pay applies only when the Tevel produce "came into the hands" of a Kohen
before Terumah was separated from it. When the produce came into his
possession, the Kohen became the legal claimant of the Terumah (when it
would be separated) and thus if the owner eats it, he is obligated to pay
RASHI (DH k'Mi) gives two possible ways that the Kohen acquires exclusive
rights to the Terumah when the produce "comes into his hands." The first
way is that the owner gives the Tevel to the Kohen to hold, and the Kohen
takes possession of the ownerless Terumah on his own accord. The second
way is that the owner gives the Tevel to the Kohen with specific intent
that the Kohen should acquire the Terumah that will be separated from it.
It seems that Rashi gives two explanations, because Rashi is in doubt
whether a Kohen can take Terumah for himself without the consent of the
owner of the produce. What is the basis for Rashi's doubt? Why should a
Kohen need the owner's consent to take the Terumah for himself?
(a) The PRI CHADASH explains that Rashi's doubt is based on another
question. The Gemara in a number of places (Pesachim 46b, Nedarim 84b,
Kidushin 58a) asks whether "Tovas Hana'ah" is considered "Mamon" or not.
That is, is the right of the owner to choose to which Kohen he will give
the Terumah considered to have any monetary value or not (see Insights to
Kidushin 58:1)? Rashi's second explanation maintains that Tovas Hana'ah is
considered Mamon, and therefore the Kohen cannot acquire the Terumah
without the consent of the owner. The first explanation maintains that
Tovas Hana'ah has no value and thus the Kohen can acquire the Terumah
without the owner's consent.
A similar explanation for Rashi's doubt may be suggested based on the
words of the Pri Chadash. TOSFOS in Bava Metzia (6b, DH v'Ha) suggests
that even if Tovas Hana'ah *is* Mamon, a Kohen who seizes Matnos Kehunah
is required to repay the owner only for the value of the Tovas Hana'ah; he
may keep the value of the Matanos themselves. Rashi here might be in doubt
whether Tosfos' suggestion is true. (Tosfos also appears to be in doubt
whether his reasoning is valid. Here, Tosfos (DH Yesh) clearly rejects
this reasoning. Rashi elsewhere (Bava Kama 66a, DH she'Tzav'o], however,
accepts this reasoning.)
(b) THE MAHARATZ CHAYOS suggests another understanding for Rashi's doubt.
Rashi's doubt is based on how much Terumah one is obligated to give to a
Kohen. If one is obligated to give only the smallest amount (and giving
more is merely voluntary; see Chulin 137b), then the Kohen has no right to
take any amount of Terumah on his own accord, because perhaps the owner
would have given less to fulfill his obligation, and thus the consent of
the owner is necessary. On the other hand, if there is a minimum Shi'ur
for Terumah, then the Kohen may keep that amount without the owner's
QUESTION: Rav Chisda (130b) rules that one who damages or eats Matnos
Kehunah is exempt from compensation. The Gemara states, however, that one
who used Matnos Kehunah that were in his granary to pay a debt to the king
*is* obligated to reimburse the Kohanim, because "Ka Mishtarshi Lei" -
they caused him to benefit.
3) PURCHASING A "SEFER TORAH" WITH "MATNOS KEHUNAH"
Why does the logic of "Ka Mishtarshi Lei" not create an obligation to
compensate the Kohanim whenever one eats or uses Matnos Kehunah for his
own personal purposes?
(a) TOSFOS (DH Shani) answers that when a person pays his debts with
Matnos Kehunah, he retains other money in his possession as a direct
result of paying the debt with the Matnos Kehunah. In that way, he is
considered to have benefited from the Matnos Kehunah. In contrast, when a
person eats Matnos Kehunah, he does not necessarily retain more money due
to the Matnos Kehunah that he ate; he might not have used his own money
(or food) had he not eaten the Matnos Kehunah, for he could have gone
without eating that day. (See an extensive discourse on this subject by
HAGA'ON RAV YISRAEL ZEV GUSTMAN zt'l in Kuntresei Shi'urim, Bava Kama
(b) The RITVA answers then when a person eats Matnos Kehunah, the food is
entirely consumed, and therefore he is not obligated to pay for it. When
he pays his debts with Matnos Kehunah, the Matanos remain in existence in
anoth er person's hands. In such a case, the Rabanan decreed that the
owner must repay the Kohanim because he is benefiting from the Matnos
The Ritva's intention in differentiating between Matnos Kehunah that are
entirely consumed and Matnos Kehunah that are still in existence is not
clear. In both cases, the person benefited from the Matnos Kehunah. Why
does he not have to pay for it when it was entirely consumed?
Perhaps the Ritva means that the Rabanan did not require him to pay for
the Matnos Kehunah when it is no longer apparent that he benefited from
it. Even though he benefited from it at the time that he ate it, since no
one can see him benefiting from it now, the Rabanan did not require him to
pay for it. When, however, the Matnos Kehunah are still in existence (in
the hands of the king's agents), it is evident to all that he is deriving
benefit from the Matnos Kehunah, and therefore the Rabanan required him to
pay for it.
(c) RASHI (DH Shani) explains that when the Gemara says that when one pays
his debts with Matnos Kehunah "he is obligated to separate Ma'aser," it
does not mean that he is obligated to compensate the Kohanim for the value
of the Matnos Kehunah. Rather, it is referring to a case in which one
benefited from produce of Tevel -- the king too untithed produce. He is
obligated to separate the Matnos Kehunah for the Tevel produce that was
taken by designating other produce in his possession as Terumah and
Ma'aser. The logic of "Ka Mishtarshi Lei" never obligates a person to
repay the Kohanim for the actual Matnos Kehunah that were taken, eaten, or
However, when the person derives no benefit from the fact that the Tevel
was taken, he is not obligated to separate Terumah and Ma'aser on behalf
of that produce.
Rashi's words imply that only when a person benefits from his produce is
he required to separate Terumah and Ma'aser. When he derives no benefit
from his produce, such as when the king forcibly takes it from him for no
reason, he has no obligation to separate Terumah for that produce. This
supports the view of REBBI AKIVA EIGER (YD 1:17) who maintains that a
person is obligated to separate Terumah from his produce only when he
intends to benefit from the produce. If a person plans on letting the
produce of his fields spoil, then he has no obligation to separate Terumah
from that produce.
This is in contrast to the view of the TAZ (YD 1:17), who asserts that
whether or not a person intends to derive benefit from the produce of his
fields, he is obligated to separate Terumah from the produce. The Mitzvah
of separating Terumah is not comparable to the Mitzvah of Shechitah, which
applies only when one desires to eat meat. How, though, does the Taz
understand the words of Rashi?
Perhaps the Taz understands that one is obligated to separate Terumah only
when he can do so from the produce itself. When the Tevel is no longer in
the owner's possession (as in the case of "Anparus"), he is not required
to separate Terumah from other produce in order to exempt the produce that
was taken from him by force. (M. Kornfeld)
QUESTION: The Gemara cites the Mishnah in Bikurim (3:12) that states that
Matnos Kehunah are a Kohen's personal property and "he may use them to
purchase slaves, land, animals... and a Sefer Torah." Why does the Mishnah
need to specify that a Kohen may use Matnos Kehunah to purchase a Sefer
Torah? Why should a Sefer Torah be different from any other item that the
Kohen wishes to purchase?
4) MAY A LEVI TAKE "ZERO'A, LECHAYAYIM, V'KEIVAH" FOR HIMSELF
(a) The RASH in Bikurim (3:11) explains that all other items that one may
buy with Matnos Kehunah are able to be exchanged for food. However, a
Sefer Torah may not be used to buy food, and, therefore, we might have
thought that it cannot be bought with Matnos Kehunah. That is why the
Mishnah must teach explicitly that one may buy a Sefer Torah with Matnos
(b) The Rash suggests a second answer. The Mishnah is not teaching that
one may buy a Sefer Torah with Matnos Kehunah, because buying a Sefer
Torah is no different from buying any other object with Matnos Kehunah.
Rather, the Mishnah is teaching that just as a Kohen may use Matnos
Kehunah to pay back a creditor or to pay for a woman's Kesuvah, one may
also use a Sefer Torah to pay back a creditor or to pay a woman's Kesuvah.
According to this explanation, the text of the Mishnah reads, "k'Sefer
Torah" -- "*like* a Sefer Torah," instead of "v'Sefer Torah."
(c) The MAHARI BEN MALKI-TZEDEK explains that the Mishnah is teaching that
when a Kohen uses fruits of Bikurim to make a purchase, the Bikurim retain
their Kedushah just as a Sefer Torah retains its Kedushah. (His text of
the Mishnah also reads, "k'Sefer Torah.")
(d) The RAMBAN, RASHBA, and RITVA here answer that the Mishnah in Bikurim
is teaching that a person may use Matnos Kehunah to purchase a Sefer Torah
even though he does not acquire actual monetary ownership of the Sefer
Torah through the purchase. This is because the value of a Sefer Torah is
independent of its physical composition. Its value is not determined by
the length or weight of its parchment or by the amount of ink used, but
rather it is determined by the information that it contains (its "Tzurah,"
and not its "Chomer"). Since, when one buys it one does not pay for its
physical worth, it cannot be purchased with a normal Kinyan Kesef (similar
to the law that a Shtar cannot be purchased with a Kinyan Kesef, but must
be purchased with Mesirah (M. Kornfeld); see Bava Basra 75a).
OPINIONS: The Gemara relates that a certain Levi seized the Matanos of
Zero'a, Lechayayim, and Keivah from children who were bringing them to the
Kohanim. When Rav was informed of this Levi's conduct, he said, "Is it not
enough for him that he is exempt from giving these Matanos when he
slaughters an animal, such that he also must seize them for himself!"
The Gemara asks that if Rav holds that a Levi is included in the word
"ha'Am" in the verse that obligates us to give the Zero'a, Lechayayim, and
Keivah to the Kohanim (Devarim 18:3), then the Levi should be obligated to
give these Matnos Kehunah to the Kohen. If, on the other hand, Rav holds
that a Levi is not included in the word "ha'Am," then why does Rav let him
keep the Matanos that he seized?
The Gemara explains that Rav was uncertain whether a Levi is considered to
be "ha'Am" and is obligated to give the Zero'a, Lechayayim, and Keivah to
the Kohen. Since there is a doubt, the rule of "ha'Motzi me'Chaveiro Alav
ha'Re'ayah" applies, and we cannot take the Matanos away from him.
If he is not considered "ha'Am," though, why does that allow him to seize
the Matanos for himself? He is not a Kohen who is entitled to take the
(a) The BACH (YD 61:17, DH u'Mah she'Kasav Aval) writes that when a Levi
seizes the Zero'a, Lechayayim, and Keivah, he does not need to return them
to a Kohen, because perhaps he is not considered "ha'Am" and has no
obligation to give them to a Kohen. This implies that if he is not
considered "ha'Am," a Levi may even take these Matanos. Whenever there is
no obligation to give the Matanos, one may keep them for himself. The
MAHARSHA in Shabbos (56a, DH v'Rebbi Akiva) appears to take a similar
(b) However, the SHACH (YD 61:12), PRI MEGADIM, and MISHNEH L'MELECH
(Hilchos Bikurim 9:5) strongly object to this approach. Even though a Levi
is not included in "ha'Am," he also is not a Kohen. The verse explicitly
says, "v'Zeh Yiheyeh Mishpat *ha'Kohanim*" (Devarim 18:3), with regard to
the Zero'a, Lechayayim, and Keivah.
To answer this question on the Bach, we may suggest that the Bach does not
mean that one who gives the Zero'a, Lechayayim, and Keivah to a Levi has
fulfilled the obligation of giving the Matanos to a Kohen. Rather, he
means that a Levi is exempt from giving his own Zero'a, Lechayayim, and
Keivah to a Kohen. When he seizes them, or receives them from a Yisrael,
he becomes the new owner of them (since they are "Mamon she'Ein Lo Tov'im"
and cannot be claimed by a Kohen). As their new owner, he is exempt from
passing them along to a Kohen and may keep them for himself. Consequently,
the original owner has not fulfilled his obligation of giving the Zero'a,
Lechayayim, and Keivah to a Kohen, and yet the Levi may keep them! (M.
5) COLLECTING "MATNOS KEHUNAH" FROM A LEVI
QUESTION: The Gemara quotes a Beraisa that clearly implies that a Levi is
obligated to give Zero'a, Lechayayim, and Keivah to a Kohen. The Beraisa,
while discussing the various forms of Matnos Aniyim and Matnos Kehunah,
says, "And the other Matnos Kehunah, like Zero'a, Lechayayim, and
Keivah... are not taken from a Kohen to give to a Kohen, and they are not
taken from a Levi to give to a Levi," implying that they *are* taken from
a Levi to give to a Kohen. The Gemara attempts to prove from here that a
Levi is included in the category of "ha'Am" (Devarim 18:3) and is
obligated to give Zero'a, Lechayayim, and Keivah to a Kohen.
6) GIVING "MATNOS KEHUNAH" TO A "KOHENES"
The Gemara refutes this proof by asserting that the Beraisa is referring
to *other* Matnos Kehunah that are *like* Zero'a, Lechayayim, and Keivah,
which are usually given to a Kohen. A Levi must give those other Matnos
Kehunah to a Kohen, but he does not have to give the Zero'a, Lechayayim,
The Gemara's answer is difficult to understand. If the Beraisa is
referring to other Matnos Kehunah and not to the Zero'a, Lechayayim, and
Keivah, then why does it not mention those other Matanos explicitly?
Moreover, what indication is there in the Beraisa that it does not mean
literally that the Levi must give the Zero'a, Lechayayim, and Keivah?
ANSWER: TOSFOS (DH Kegon) explains that the Gemara understands that the
Beraisa is not to be understood literally from the fact that it mentions
Matanos "like" Zero'a, Lechayayim, and Keivah, and it does not say merely,
"*the* Zero'a, Lechayayim, and Keivah."
Tosfos adds that had the Beraisa explicitly mentioned the other Matanos,
we might have understood that the Zero'a, Lechayayim, and Keivah must be
collected from Leviyim as well, and the other Matanos are mentioned only
as examples of Matnos Kehunah. Since the Beraisa says, "*like* Zero'a,
Lechayayim, and Keivah," we may infer that it is *only* the other Matanos
that must be collected from Leviyim.
OPINIONS: The Gemara relates that Ula used to give Matnos Kehunah to a
Kohenes. As RASHI (DH l'Kohenes) explains, Ula understood that when the
verse says that one should give Matnos Kehunah "to a Kohen" (Vayikra
22:14), it means to any Kohen, even a woman.
The Gemara until now has been discussing the specific Matanos of Zero'a,
Lechayayim, and Keivah. The Gemara here, though, does not say that Ula
would give the Zero'a, Lechayayim, and Keivah to a Kohenes, but rather
that he would give the "Matnos Kehunah" to a Kohenes. Does the Gemara use
this term as a generic term to refer to Zero'a, Lechayayim, and Keivah, or
does it mean that Ula would give all of his Matnos Kehunah to a Kohenes?
Would Ula also permit redeeming a firstborn son from a Kohenes?
(a) REBBI AKIVA EIGER (YD 61:8) understands that Ula was referring to all
Matnos Kehunah. He suggests that it would be permitted to perform Pidyon
ha'Ben by redeeming a firstborn son from a Kohenes. As mentioned above,
the basis for Ula's view is that whenever the Torah says that the Matnos
Kehunah are to be given "to a Kohen," it refers to a Kohenes as well
(unless otherwise specified). Although we find that Rebbi Eliezer ben
Yakov argues and says that when the verse says "Kohen" it generally
*excludes* a Kohenes unless specified (he agrees with Ula with regard to
Zero'a, Lechayayim, and Keivah), the Gemara explicitly says later (132a)
that the Halachah follows the view of Ula. This means that we apply his
reasoning, and a Kohenes should be allowed to accept Matnos Kehunah
whenever there is no specific verse forbidding her from doing so.
Rebbi Akiva Eiger cites another proof for this from the words of TOSFOS in
Kidushin (8a, DH Rav Kahana), who says that although Rav Kahana was not a
Kohen, he took money for a Pidyon ha'Ben on behalf of his wife who was a
(b) The PNEI YEHOSHUA in Kidushin, however, has difficulty with the words
of Tosfos. He asks that the only Matanah a Kohenes is allowed to take is
Zero'a, Lechayayim, and Keivah. How, then, can Tosfos say that he took
money for Pidyon ha'Ben on behalf of his wife?
Rebbi Akiva Eiger discusses the view of the Pnei Yehoshua at length. He
points out that the Pnei Yehoshua's opinion regarding Pidyon ha'Ben
definitely seems to be the opinion of many Rishonim. The RASHBA (Teshuvos
#837), RAMBAM (Hilchos Bikurim 1:10), and others maintains that when the
verse regarding Pidyon ha'Ben says, "v'Nasata ha'Kesef l'Aharon u'Vanav"
-- "You will give the money to Aharon and his sons" (Bamidbar 3:48), it is
teaching the money may be given only to a male Kohen. This is similar to
the Derashah regarding the Minchah offering of a Kohenes which may be
eaten, as opposed to that of a Kohen which must be burned, because the
verse says that only the Minchah of "Aharon u'Vanav" is burned.
The ARUCH HA'SHULCHAN (YD 61:33) rules, like the Pnei Yehoshua, that one
does not fulfill his obligation of giving other Matnos Kehunah to a
Kohenes, besides the Zero'a, Lechayayim, and Keivah. It is important to
note that Rebbi Akiva Eiger himself concludes by saying that he needs to
analyze the issue further to determine whether or not this is the
Halachah. (Y. Montrose)