A Leak into a Barrel of Produce

Machshirin (4:4) | Yisrael Bankier | 3 years ago

The Mishnah (4:4) discusses a case where rainwater leaked into a house and filled a barrel of produce. The presence of the water was clearly not le'ratzon -- the owner did not want it there. Therefore the produce would not affect hechsher and the produce would not be susceptible to tumah. The Mishnah continues by discussing how the water can be removed so that the produce would remain in that state.

Beit Shammai argue that the barrel must be smashed to drain the water. The Beit Hillel however explain that it can simply be poured out. We shall try to understand this debate.

The Bartenura understands that according to Beit Shammai, if one handles the barrel, the movement of the water will be intentional, which would then affect hechsher.

The Rashash continues that the debate would then be an extension of their other debate. We learnt previously (1:4) that if one shakes out a bundle of vegetables that got wet, Beit Shammai maintains that the movement of the water from one vegetable to next is intentional and would then affect hechsher. They maintain this position, even though the intention is to remove the water. Beit Hillel however disagree, since the intention is for none of the water to remain.

The Eliyahu Raba however explains that the debate is whether the barrel can be tipped to pour out the water.1 Beit Hillel however would agree that the barrel cannot be lifted from ground in order to pour it out, since doing so would define the water as "drawn". This explanation ties the position of Beit Hillel with a similar Mishnah in Mikvaot (2:7). Recall that a mikveh must be a natural collection of water. The Mishnah there discussed jugs that where left in an empty mikveh and filled with rain water. While the solution is debated, everyone agrees that if one picked up the jugs, the water would be considered drawn and could not be used to fill the mikveh. The Eliyahu Raba appears to explain that even Beit Hillel would agree that in our case, if one picked up the barrel, it would then be considered "drawn" -- willingly detached and effect hechsher.

The Rambam (Tumat Ochlin 2:7) however writes that one can pour out the water even though one wants the contents to be there until it is poured out.

The Chazon Ish (Machshirin 3:2) explains that the Rambam has a different understanding of the debate. He first asks, if the owner tipped out the water instead of smashing the barrel, it does not necessarily mean that the water's presence was the le'razton -- the owner simply wanted to salvage the barrel. He therefore understands that according to Beit Shammai it is only considered le'ratzon if the barrel was moved to pour it out. If however it was tipped out there, even Beit Shammai would agree that it would not affect hechsher. Beit Hillel however argue that even if the barrel was transferred in order to pour it out, it would not affect hechsher. Why?

The Chazon Ish explains that according to the Rambam, Beit Hillel understand that the extended presence of the produce in the water is not considered le'ratzon as long as he is occupied with removing the water. Note that in the end of the Mishnah, if one removes the produce from the water, even though it takes longer than smashing the barrel, they are not susceptible to tumah. Consequently, according to Beit Hillel the presence of the water when taking it to be poured out, is not defined as le'ratzon. One should note however, that it would seem that if the person delayed in pouring out the water, Beit Hillel would agree that the produce would become susceptible to tumah.

1 See also the Mishnah Achrona that provides a similar explanation.


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