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Q&A

Why does the verse state that one should "destroy" Maaser Sheni and Neta Reva'i?

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Devarim 26:13:

וְאָמַרְתָּ֡ לִפְנֵי֩ יְהוָ֨ה אֱלֹהֶ֜יךָ בִּעַ֧רְתִּי הַקֹּ֣דֶשׁ מִן־הַבַּ֗יִת וְגַ֨ם נְתַתִּ֤יו לַלֵּוִי֙ וְלַגֵּר֙ לַיָּת֣וֹם וְלָאַלְמָנָ֔ה כְּכָל־מִצְוָתְךָ֖ אֲשֶׁ֣ר צִוִּיתָ֑נִי לֹֽא־עָבַ֥רְתִּי מִמִּצְוֺתֶ֖יךָ וְלֹ֥א שָׁכָֽחְתִּי

And you will say before Hashem, your G-d, "I have destroyed the holy [produce] from the house, and I have also given it to the Levi, the convert, the orphan, and the widow, according to all of Your commandments which You have commanded me. I have not strayed from Your commandments, nor have I forgotten."

Mishnah Maaser Sheni 5:10:

בִּעַרְתִּי הַקֹּדֶשׁ מִן הַבַּיִת, זֶה מַעֲשֵׂר שֵׁנִי וְנֶטַע רְבָעִי

"I have destroyed the holy [produce] from the house" — this refers to Maaser Sheni and Neta Reva'i.

Why does the verse use the unusual (in this context) language of "I have destroyed" (בערתי), rather than "I have removed" (פניתי)? As it is worded, the passuk implies that one must destroy Maaser Sheni and Neta Reva'i, when one instead is required to bring it to Jerusalem (or transfer its sanctity onto coins with which he will buy other produce to be eaten in Jerusalem). If by this point he still hasn't eaten it, sure it has to be destroyed; why doesn't the passuk then use the terminology of אכלתי, which carries the dual connotations of "I have eaten" and "I have destroyed"?

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Rav Hirsch states that בערתי is used because it must not just be removed but it must be cleared out in the way specified for that type of kodshim. That is it must be eaten or burnt. Rav Hirsch translates the pasuk as

I have cleared out that which is hallowed from the house.

Since this means it must be fully disposed of (or desroyed) the term ביעור is appropriate. Indeed if the maaser sheni has not been brought to Yerushalayim it must be destroyed and not just removed from the house.

Rav Hirsch explains:

Referring to all these the declaration has to be made בערתי מן הבית "I have cleared them out of my house", that he has nothing in his possession which has not been disposed of in the prescribed way. So that on the day on which the declaration was to be made i.e. on ערב יום טוב אחרון של פסה of the fourth and seventh year (see above) was the ביעור i.e. everything which had not yet been disposed of in the prescribed manner had then to be disposed of, or if that were not possible, destroyed.

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