QUESTION: The Mishnah teaches that the word "Tevu'ah" includes only the five types of grain (wheat, barley, spelt, oat, and rye). In the Gemara, Rava and Abaye explain that the Aramaic word for Tevu'ah, "Alalta," refers to any type of produce. The only produce which might not be included in "Alalta" is produce which is entirely external to the object which produces it, such as earnings from rental residencies and rental boats. Therefore, when a person leaves a will in which he instructs that a certain amount of money from the "Alalta" be given to a certain person, he means that the beneficiary may take the money from any produce and not only from the five types of grain.

Since the word "Alalta" is nothing more than the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew word "Tevu'ah," why should it have a different meaning that "Tevu'ah"?


(a) The RITVA explains that people use the word "Tevu'ah" only in the same context in which the Torah uses the word. The Torah uses the word to refer only to the five types of grain. The word "Alalta," on the other hand, is a vernacular term in Aramaic, which people use to refer not only to grains but to all types of produce.

(b) The ROSH explains that the root of the word "Alalta" is not related to the root of the Hebrew word "Tevu'ah." Rather, "Alalta" comes from the root of the word "Me'uleh," which means "of high quality" or "praiseworthy." Similarly, RABEINU NASAN BAR YOSEF (RNB'Y), cited by the Shitah Mekubetzes, explains that the word "Alalta" comes from the word "Ayal," which means "to bring up [to the house]." Therefore, it includes all types of produce (which are "brought up" to the house) and not only grains.

The RITVA asks that according to these explanations, "Alalta" should include not only agricultural produce (produce which grows) but all objects, whether they produce something else or whether they are used in their present state (since their usage is considered "produce"). Apparently, Rabeinu Nasan bar Yosef understands that the Gemara indeed means to include all items in "Alalta" and not only items that are actual produce. The reason why Rava asks whether rental fees are included in "Alalta" is that a rental involves a slight depreciation in the value of the object which is used, as the Gemara says. Other objects, in contrast, either do not depreciate at all and therefore are included in "Alalta," or they depreciate significantly and therefore are not included in "Alalta."

(c) The RAN explains that the word "Alalta" means "to enter" or "come in" (as in "income"), and therefore it includes all types of produce which come into the world. However, according to the Ran it is not clear why the word "Tevu'ah" -- which comes from the word "Bo" which also means "to enter" or "come in" -- does not also include the same objects as "Alalta." Perhaps the Ran means what the Ritva writes -- that the term "Tevu'ah" could include all objects, but since it is used by the Torah to refer only to grain, when a person uses that word he intends to use it in the same way that the Torah uses it.

(See MITZPEH EISAN who asks that the Torah uses the word "Tevu'ah" to refer to other forms of produce and not only grain. He cites the Gemara in Erchin (14b) which derives from the phrase "Shnei Tevu'os" in the Torah (Vayikra 25:15) a Halachah with regard to fruit trees. Perhaps in that context, however, the Torah has reason to use the term "Tevu'ah" differently; see Menachos 37a, Chulin 88b and 139b.)