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Nedarim, 55


QUESTION: The Mishnah says that the word "Tevu'ah" includes only the five types of grain (wheat, barley, spelt, oat, and rye). However, Rava and Abaye explain that the Aramaic word for Tevu'ah, "Alalta," refers to *any* type of produce. The only produce that they question might not be included in "Alalta" is produce that is totally external to the object that produces it, such as earnings from rental residencies and rental boats. Therefore, when a person leaves a will instructing that a certain person be given a certain amount of money from the "Alalta," he means that the beneficiary may take the money from any produce and not only from the five types of grain.

Since the word "Alalta" is nothing more than the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew word "Tevu'ah," why should it have a different meaning that "Tevu'ah?"


(a) The RITVA explains that people only use the word "Tevu'ah" in the same context in which the Torah uses the word. The Torah uses the word to refer only to the five types of grain. The word "Alalta," on the other hand, is a vernacular term in Aramaic, which people began to use to refer not only to grains but to all types of produce.

(b) The ROSH explains that the word "Alalta" does not come from the same root as the root of the Hebrew "Tevu'ah." Rather, it comes from the root of the word "Me'uleh," which means "of high quality" or "praiseworthy." Similarly, the RANBY in the Shitah Mekubetzes explains that the word "Alalta" comes from the word "Ayal," which means "to bring up [to the house]." Therefore, it includes all types of produce (that are "brought up" to the house) and not just grains.

The RITVA asks that according to these explanations, "Alalta" should include not just agricultural produce (produce that grows), but it should include *all* objects, whether they produce something else or whether they are used in their present state (since their usage is considered "produce"). It seems from the RANBY that the Gemara indeed means to include all items in "Alalta" and not just items that are actual produce. The reason Rava asks whether rental fees are included is because obtaining the money of the rental involves a slight depreciation in the value of the object being used, like the Gemara says. Other objects, in contrast, either do not depreciate at all and therefre are included in "Alalta," or they depreciate significantly and therefore are not included in "Alalta."

(c) The RAN explains that the word "Alalta" means "to enter," or "come in" (as in "income"), and therefore it includes all types of produce which come into the world. However, it is not clear from the Ran why the word "Tevu'ah" -- which comes from the word "Bo" which also means "to enter" or "come in" -- does not also include the same objects as "Alalta." Perhaps the Ran means what the Ritva says -- that the term "Tevu'ah" *could* include all objects, but since it is used by the Torah only to refer to grain, when a person uses that word he intends to use it in the same way that the Torah uses it. (See MITZPEH EISAN who says that we find that the Torah uses the word "Tevu'ah" to refer to other forms of produce and not just grain. He cites the Gemara in Erchin (14b) which derives from the phrase "Shnei Tevu'os" in the Torah (Vayikra 25:15) a Halachah with regard to fruit trees. (Perhaps there the usage of the term "Tevu'ah" is different; see Menachos 37a and Chulin 88b and 139b)!


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