Yevamot 86 - Who gets the tithe?

The priestly portion (terumah) goes to the Kohanim, and the tithe (maaser rishon) goes to the Levites - these are the words of Rabbi Akiva. What is his logic? - The Torah said, " Speak to the Levites and say to them, 'When you take … tithe.' "

However, Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah says that the tithe goes to the Kohanim. How could he exclude the Levites altogether? - He didn't, he meant "Also to the Kohanim." And what is his logic? - There are twenty-four places where the Kohanim are called Levites, because they in fact come from the same family: Aaron, the progenitor of all the Kohanim, comes from the tribe of Levy.

If so, how can Rabbi Akiva argue that the tithe should not be given to the Kohanim? - He says that the tithe is special, because one can eat it " anywhere ," whereas the Kohen cannot eat it in a cemetery - because he cannot go to the cemetery at all! What would Rabbi Elazar answer now? - He says that this teaches a different law, namely, that the tithe can be eaten in any state, even being ritually impure.

Later, when the Second Temple was being build, the Sages penalized the Levites and took the tithe away from them and gave it to the Kohanim - because the Levites did not come back to build the Temple; some say, it was done for the benefit of poor Kohanim.

Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah had a garden from which he was collecting the tithe. Rabbi Akiva turned the garden's entrance into a cemetery, so that Rabbi Elazar (who was a Kohen) would be prevented from taking the tithe. Rabbi Elazar said, "Akiva is with his shepherd's sack, but I will survive anyway." (He was very wealthy).

Art: Old Cemetery Tower At Nuenen by Vincent Van Gogh