Friday, January 06, 2006

DAILY MITZVAH (Maimonides): Shabbat, January 7, 2006


Due to Shabbat observance, the Shabbat edition of Daily Mitzvah (Maimonides) is sent on Friday. Shabbat Shalom!

Tevet 7, 5766 * January 7, 2006

D A I L Y M I T Z V A H (M A I M O N I D E S )

Today's Mitzvot (Day 127 of 339):

Negative Mitzvah 154

Negative Mitzvah 154: We are forbidden to change the order of
giving the various portions to the Priests
and Levites

-Exodus 22:28 You shall not delay to offer any of the fullness
of your harvest and of the outflow of your (wine)

One day, when Simi came home from school, she found a note from
her mother on the kitchen table.

"Hello, Simi!", the note read. "I had to rush out on an errand
and I'll be back in about two hours. Please do the following
things when you get home:

"1) Soak two cups of beans;
2) Take down the laundry;
3) Buy a bottle of milk.
"P.S. Please do them in that order."

Simi was proud that her mother relied on her and she put down
her books to get the beans. As she headed towards the kitchen,
the doorbell rang.

"Who is it?"
"It's me! Judy!"
Simi opened the door to greet her friend.
"Hi, Simi," said Judy. "I'm going to the store for my mother.
Do you want to come with me?"

Simi remembered that her mother had asked her to buy a bottle
of milk, and said, "Good idea, Judy. I have to get something for
my mother, too!"

The girls did their shopping, chatting happily as they walked
to the store and back. When they arrived at Simi's house, Simi
said to Judy:

"Do you want to keep me company while I take the laundry down
from the line? Nobody's home and I'll be bored."

"Sure," Judy answered immediately. "My mother won't mind and
I'll help you, too."

The girls began to take down the laundry.

They enjoyed each other's company and talked a great deal.

Almost two hours had passed since Simi got home from school,
but the girls hardly noticed.

Then Simi's mother came back home.

"Hi Mommy! I did what you asked me to," Simi said proudly,
then almost at once added, "Oops! I forgot to soak the beans.
I'll do that right now!"

"Oh! Simi," sighed her mother, dropping tiredly into a chair.
"I specifically asked you to do that first!"

"But, Mommy, I went to the store and took down the laundry
and I'm soaking the beans now, so it all got done anyway."

"I appreciate your help, Simi, but next time please follow my
instructions exactly.

Sometimes, the order of doing things counts - especially if
I specifically said so in my note.

You see, I asked you to soak the beans first, so that in the
two hours I was away, they would have been soft enough to cook
for supper.

Now they will take much longer to cook, and it's almost supper

This Negative Mitzvah cautions us not to change the order of
separating the different gifts from our produce which we must
offer to the Priests and Levites.

A certain part of the harvest grown in Eretz Yisrael must be set
aside for the Priests and Levites, who devote their lives to the
service of the Beit HaMikdash.

In order to ensure that the needs of the Priests and Levites were
met, the Torah gave us Mitzvot which demand that parts of our
crops or sacrifices must be set aside for them.

There was a specific order in which parts of the harvest had to
be set aside.

It is as follows:

First the "Terumah" was set aside for the Priest, which usually
amounted to one-fiftieth of the produce.

Then, from the remainder, one-tenth was given to the Levite.

This was known as "Ma'aser", which literally means, "one-tenth."

(It is also sometimes called "Ma'aser Rishon", meaning the first

Both Terumah and Ma'aser had to be given every year.

In addition, there are two other types of Ma'aser that had to be

These were given according to the year within the seven year cycle
of Shemitah.

In the third and sixth years of the seven year cycle, a "Ma'aser
Ani" was set aside. This tenth was given to poor people.

On the first, second, fourth and fifth years of the seven year
cycle, the "Ma'aser Sheini", the second tenth, had to be brought
to Jerusalem.

The "Bikurim" which are the first-fruits, should be separated

Then the Terumah, which is given to the priest.

Afterwards, the Ma'aser Rishon, the first tenth which is given to
the Levites, followed by the second tenth - Ma'aser Sheyni, which
is brought up to Jerusalem and eaten there.


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