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PRODUCE OF ISRAEL (TERUMAH & MA'ASER)
Updated: 13 August 2014

Grains, fruits, and vegetables (and their extracts) that grow in the halachic boundaries of Eretz Yisrael are subject to many extra kashrut laws due to the kedusha (holiness) of the land. These include:

• The requirement to separate terumah (the Priestly tithe)
• The requirement to separate the various forms of ma’aser (tithes for the Levites, the poor, and the portion that was to be eaten in Jerusalem in Temple times)
• Shmita (produce of the Sabbatical year)
• A stricter form of Orla (produce of a tree within its first 3 years).

Processed foods from Israel with a reliable hechsher guarantees that all these halachic issues have been taken care of.


Fresh Produce

The Kashrut Department is aware of a number of seasonal fruit that are being imported from Eretz Yisrael and require Terumah and Ma'aser be separated.

How to separate Terumah and the various forms of Ma'aser

  • Place all of the food that needs to be tithed in one place.
  • Put a bit more than 1% of the food aside (if separating for more than one food species at one time, then you must put aside a bit more than 1% of each food species and place it next to the group from which it was separated). Then say this declaration (without a brochah):

"I hereby declare the excess of the one percent portion that was set aside to be the Priestly tithe and note that it is located on the northern side." [If separating for more than one food species, then add: "Each species for its own kind."]

"The one percent remaining here, together with nine equal portions at the upper side of this produce, is declared to be the first [Levite] tithe." [If separating for more than one food species, then add: "Each species for its own kind."]

"The one percent that I have made to be part of the first tithe is hereby declared to be the terumah portion of the tithe."

"If the tithe of the poor is required to be separated - the Ma'aser Ani is to be on its southern side." [If separating for more than one food species, then add "Each species for its own kind"]

"If the second tithe is required to be separated - the Ma'aser Sheni is to be on its southern side [If separating for more than one food species, then add: "Each species for its own kind"].

It and its extra fifth are hereby redeemed onto one Perutah that the director of "the Fund for the redemption of Ma'aser Sheni and Revai" has designated for the Johannesburg Beth Din, for the purpose of such redemption."

"If the produce is Revai (fourth-year fruit), then it and its extra fifth are hereby redeemed onto one Perutah that the director of "the Fund for the redemption of Ma'aser Sheni and Revai" has designated for the Johannesburg Beth Din, for the purpose of such redemption."

If you have difficulty reciting the above text, you can say this abbreviated version:

"I hereby set aside all the T'rumot and Ma'asrot and redeem all Ma'aser Sheni and Revai according to the halachah, as is written in the text for members of 'The Fund for the Redemption of Ma'aser Sheni and Revai' per the Johannesburg Beth Din."

  • Securely wrap up the separated produce and discard.
  • The remaining food is now permitted to be eaten.

Please note that "Israeli" tomatoes are usually locally grown (as are "English" cucumbers). Check the label to verify.


   
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