Towards the end of the third chapter of our masechet we learn about a stringency that applies to mixtures involving dough requiring the separation of challah or tevel. For example, the eighth Mishnah discusses a case where sourdough from which challah has not been separated mixes with dough from which challah has already been separated. The Mishnah first teaches that the simplest solution is that if there is other dough that has not had challah separated available, then one should separate enough challah from it to satisfy both it and the mixed in sourdough. If however that is not an option, then challah must be separated for the entire mixture. In other words, no matter the quantity of the sourdough that was mixed in, it is not batel(annulled) and the entire mixture shares its status.
The Mishnah (3:10) later qualifies this stringency teaching that we only say that unseparated dough and tevel are never batel only when they are mixed with a like product, e.g. wheat with wheat. If however it is mixed with a different product, e.g. wheat with rice, then the tevel is batel provided that its taste is not discernable in the mixture (eino naten ta’am). What is the reason for this, albeit limited, stringency?
The Gemara in Avodah Zarah explains that in the same manner that tevel can be permitted by separating a minimal amount (concerning terumah gedolah) so too does a mixture involving tevel become forbidden with a minimal amount. In other words since we find that a minimal amount is significant in that it can permit tevel, it must also be significant to prohibit the mixture (Tosfot).
The Yerushalmi however brings a different reason for the stringency: since the matter can be resolved by separating from other tevel produce, the case is a davar she’yesho lo matarin and as we have learnt, is therefore not batel.
The Rishonim question why the Gemara did not bring the simple, broader answer of the Yerushalmi that it is a case of davar she’yesh lo matarin rather than its own solution which is more limited in scope.
The Tosfot answer that had we only had the reason of the Yerushalmi then one might think that if the owner is not in town, then the mixture would be batel. The reason is that Rabbeinu Tam maintains that a case is only considered a davar she’yesh lo matirin if the solution does not require great effort or expense. Consequently the reason of the Gemara is required to account for such cases.
Similarly the Tosfot continues that the reason of the Gemara alone would not have been enough since the stringency also applies to trumat maaser which has a fixed measure. Therefore both the Bavli and Yerushalmi are required together to explain our Mishnah.
The Tifferet Yisrael notes that in a case where tevel that had teruma gedola but not terumat maaser removed was mixed in with chullin and the owners were not in town then neither reason would apply. Nevertheless, he explains that “lo plug” – the Rabbis did not make such fine distinctions within their decree.
Another question that arises is would the reason of the Gemara apply to teruma gedola as well? Since only a mashehu of teruma is required to be separated, if teruma is mixed with chullin should a minimal amount not also prohibit a mixture with chullin? The problem is that we have learnt that teruma is annulled when there is 100 parts of chullin to 1 part of teruma.
The Ramban explains that the explanation of the Gemara does not apply to teruma. The reason is that once teruma is separated, it is separated and there is no heiter, unlike tevel where it is by definition prior to separation and has a heiter b’mashehu.
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