Monthly Archives: June 2015

Why is Vidui Maaser a General Accounting of One’s Spiritual Life?

The mitzvah of Vidui Maaser has many surprising aspects to it.  I am still unsure about some issues and would appreciate some insight.  At the end of Pesach in the 4th and 7th year of the Maaser cycles, one does Biur Maaser and then says Vidui Maaser.  He declares that he has not violated any of God’s laws, presumably those related to terumot and maasrot, but we will return to this presently.

First, there is the basic question of why declaring to God that you have not violated any laws is called Vidui, confession, a word usually associated with confessing sin.  This is especially as the Mishna rules explicitly (Maaser Sheni 5) that one cannot say Vidui if he did do anything wrong.  The Minchat Chinuch (607) argues that in fact one must have done something wrong – namely that he delayed giving Terumot U’Maasrot such that he had to deal with it later on.  Even though this is no per se assur, it is problematic enough to warrant confession, and not too problematic to make it assur to say the Vidui.  Continue reading Why is Vidui Maaser a General Accounting of One’s Spiritual Life?

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The Land Flowing with Wine and Honey?

“The land flowing with milk and honey” is a favorite poetic description of Eretz Yisrael in the Torah.  It is less known that Chazal in several places understand this phrase as not referring to all of the land, but rather to specific parts of it.  Israel is called the land flowing with milk and honey because it is the land that contains areas with this property.  Hence the following discussion of the Amoarim who had seen the areas with this property, culminating with the claim that only an area of 22 by 16 parsa can be referred to by this property.  Continue reading The Land Flowing with Wine and Honey?