(photo credit: KIRK LYTTLE/ TNS)
At the beginning of this week’s Torah portion, Ki Tavo, we read about two “agricultural” commandments that can only be fulfilled in the Land of Israel and which deal with the relationship between man and the harvest grown in his field. One is the mitzva of bikurim (first fruits), and the other is ma’aser ani (poor man’s tithe).What is the poor man’s tithe? Every year, after a person brings his harvest in from the fields, he must take off 10% and give it to others. The recipients of this tithe are not permanent. The Torah set up a seven-year cycle. On the third and sixth years, the tithe goes to the lowest socioeconomic layers of society, those who are unable to sustain themselves, such as converts, orphans and widows.