Parshat Lech Lecha
Count to Ten
When Avraham returns triumphant from his battle against the four kings, Malki Tzedek, a priest to
This is the first mention of maaser in Scripture. Later, the Torah will set forth the obligations to tithe produce and give it to the Kohen and the Levi (and also to the poor). One who gives this tenth to the Levi expresses the following: “G-d, in Whose Name you proclaim is the One Who gave me these possessions.” By giving a tithe to Malki Tzedek, Avraham acknowledges that Gd, Whose Name Malki Tzedek proclaims, is the One Who graced him with victory.
As a rule, the word for “tenth” is asirit. But in this sense of tithing, it is called maaser. Had the tithe been called asirit, the tenth would have no special significance. It could just as well have been any other fraction. In dedicating assets to
The obligation to tithe animals and produce was effected in this manner: Each tenth animal that passed under the staff would be separated as maaser. When tithing produce, they would not measure the whole quantity and then designate a tenth. Rather, they would designate every tenth measure as maaser. Maaser, then, does not mean a tenth part, but rather every tenth one. In this way, both the first and the concluding separation of property to the Kohen or Levi were dedicated to
When a person earns his first penny, he is still humble. With the memory of his previous state of need still fresh in his mind, he knows well that his success depends on the grace of
- Sources: Commentary, Bereishet, 14:22-24