Parsha Mitzvot: Ki Tavo: Mitzvah 610 – Concept 263
“When you have finished tithing every tithe of your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give to the Levite, to the proselyte, to the orphan, and to the widow, and they shall eat in your cities and be satisfied. Then you shall say before God, your Lord, ‘I have removed the holy things from the house, and I have also given it to the Levite, to the proselyte, to the orphan, and to the widow, according to whatever commandment You commanded me; I have not transgressed any of Your commandments, and I have not forgotten. I have not eaten of it in my intense mourning, I did not consume it in a state of contamination, and I did not give of it for the needs of the dead; I have hearkened to the voice of God, my Lord,; I have acted according to everything You commanded me. Gaze down from Your holy abode, from the heavens, and bless Your people Israel, and the ground that You gave us, as You swore to our forefathers, a Land flowing with milk and honey.’” (Deuteronomy 26:12-15) We may not eat Ma’aser Sheini when in a state of impurity. (Rambam, Hilchot Ma’aser Sheini v’Neta Rivaii – The Laws of The Second Tithe and Fourth Year Produce)
Since the moment Cain offered the first fruit of his labor to God, we have been struggling to maintain a sense of sanctity in our work. A farmer has worked diligently to produce his food. Before he can eat the food, he must separate Ma’aser Sheini to be eaten in Jerusalem. This is his opportunity to declare that all his work is holy. He must treat his food with the greatest care. He must treat it as he would a holy offering.
This law addresses all our efforts, and reminds us to take a little of what we do, and treat it as being holy, so as to realize the holiness of all our efforts. We can do this when we give money to Tzedaka. We can use funds set aside for the meals of the holy Shabbat. The challenge of this Mitzvah/Concept is to maintain the sanctity of all we produce through our efforts.