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Q&A

(How) does the home gardener tithe?

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This past year I grew some vegetables for the first time. I don't live in Eretz Yisrael, so I know I don't have to tithe my produce, but it made me wonder: what if I did? How would I go about that, practically speaking? Or is there a minimum amount below which tithing laws don't apply, and my couple of tomato plants and similar wouldn't count?

If you need to tithe from your vegetable garden, how do you go about it, practically speaking? How do you establish valuation -- compare to what's for sale in the grocery store?

I know that when shopping for produce in Israel I need to look for the certification that it's already been tithed, so I can meet my obligations without doing anything myself other than buying approved goods. Because of this, I'm not aware of how somebody would tithe in general, for example if one bought produce that hasn't been tithed. Maybe that's the same whether you bought or grew the food, but I don't want to assume that.

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Any produce that hasn't had trumot and maasrot taken from it needs to have it taken before it can be eaten, once it's been brought inside. (If you're eating them straight from the plant as a snack, it's considered "achilat aray" and doesn't require tithing.)

When taking trumot and maasrot, there are a few considerations: there's the Trumah, which is designated for a Kohen can't be eaten by non-kohanim; there's the trumat maaser, which is the Trumah taken from the maaser (and has the same state as Trumah); and the maaser sheni / maaser Ani, which has to be either taken to Yerushalayim or given to the poor, respectively.

When taking trumot and maasrot from tevel vadai - produce that definitely hasn't been tithed - you take with a bracha. You remove a certain percentage (I don't remember what exactly and can't check right now) and double wrap it before throwing it out. That's the Trumah and the trumat maaser. As for the maaser sheni, most people designate a coin that's the "maaser sheni coin", transfer the status of maaser sheni to the coin (there's wording for this but the precise wording isn't that important), and then either spend that coin in Yerushalayim or toss it into the dead sea.

For D'mai - you don't know if it's been tithed or not - it's the same process without a bracha.

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IMO definitely worth mentioning the text recited when tithing (whether with or without a b'racha) since otherwise you're not actually tithing, just moving stuff from your counter to your garbage. msh210‭ 4 months ago

There's also maaser rishon, 90% of which goes to a Levite AA ‭ 4 months ago

Technically, D'mai doesn't exist nowadays and would only need terumat maaser taken, not regular terumah (aka terumah gedolah). What you're discussing is "safek tevel". D'mai was a special rabbinic enactment for specific cases where there was a minor doubt about certain details of the separation. Those circumstances basically do not exist nowadays. Nowadays either you know everything has been taken, you know nothing has been, or you straight up aren't sure. AA ‭ 4 months ago

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How do you establish valuation -- compare to what's for sale in the grocery store?

The other answer and plenty of online resources discuss the lists of what portions to designate and in what order. You can basically just read a set text that takes care of all the designating. Then everything is designated and sitting there. How do you establish valuation for dealing with these special foods in front of you?

For redeeming Ma'aser Sheni nowadays, you don't need to. The rule is (Arakhin 29a) that if you redeem Ma'aser Sheni on the too little an amount of money, the redemption takes effect. Accordingly, in situations where you won't be able to use the money to reacquire food in Jerusalem to eat in a state of purity (ie. always for now), you are allowed to purposefully redeem all the food onto the smallest halachic unit of currency: a peruta (~$0.02).

For the other gifts, if you don't want to bother giving them to their intended recipients, you can buy the gifts back at any price the intended recipient agrees to. After all, it's his property. Suppose I have 9 apples of Ma'aser Ani from my tree. I can give a fair market value of $5 to my local beggar and, if he agrees, keep the apples for myself. More practically, I might loan the beggar $20 at the beginning of the year with the agreement that he'll pay me back with however many Ma'aser Ani apples I happen to end up with. All with his agreement of course. (Similarly with a farm, I might lend a poor person ~$100 with the agreement that he'll pay me back with the bushels and bushels of Ma'aser Ani apples I'm sure to grow. Those apples sell in a grocery for more than $100 but my friendly local beggar is willing to take a smaller sum to avoid the hassle of being delivered all those apples at once when he doesn't have the infrastructure to handle them. All with his agreement of course.)

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