Hechsher - Willingly

Machshirin (1:1) | Yisrael Bankier | 14 years ago

The laws presented in this masechet are mostly based on the following pasuk (Vayikra 11:38):

But if water has been placed (v’chi yutan) upon a seed then their neveilah falls upon it, it is tameh to you.

We learn from the above pasuk that for food to become tameh it must undergo hechsher. In other words it must come into contact with one of the seven liquids (as we will learn further 6:4).

We soon learnt of a number of prerequisites for hechsher. One is that the food must be detached from the soil. Another is that the (tahor) liquid (which also must be detached) must have come into contact with the ratzon (approval) of the owner of the food. What constitutes ratzon is discussed in the first Mishnah.

The Mishnah (1:1) teaches:

Any liquid that fell initially l’ratzon, even though at the end it was not l’ratzon; or if in the end it was l’ratzon even though in the beginning it was not l’ratzon – qualifies for v’chi yutan.

The Mishnah explains that even partial ratzon is enough for the water to enable hechsher. What is not immediately clear is what the “beginning” and “end” is referring to in the Mishnah.

Most of the mefarshim explain that the beginning refers to the time the water was detached. An example where there is ratzon in the beginning is where it is raining and the owner wish to use the water for a particular us, e.g. washing keilim. Ratzon in the end is when the water fell on the food.

The Rambam (Tumat Ochlin 12:2-3) however explains that the beginning refers to the beginning of when the water fell on the food, and the end refers to the point when the food is still wet. If however the water that was detached without ratzon, it cannot perform hechsher. The Ra’avad argues with the Rambam there maintaining the previous understanding. How do we understand the debate?

R’ Chaim (al HaRambam) explains as follows: The Rambam understands that there are two requirements for hechsher. The first is that water must be willingly detached for a detached purpose. The Sifra learns this requirement from the earlier pasuk (11:34): “...and any beverage that can be drunk...” The second requirement is that the water must also fall, or be on the fruit with ratzon – learnt from the above quoted pasuk. This derivation is as follows. The word in the pasuk “was placed” (yutan) is written in the Torah as yiten – “he will place”. Just as one actively placing water is with ratzon, so too must the water now on the fruit be with ratzon. Therefore according to our Mishnah the second requirement is fulfilled either if the water is placed on willingly or if there is ratzon while the fruit is wet.

The Ra’avad (amongst other mefarshim) however understands that fulfilling one of these requirements is enough. But how does he deal with the two pesukim? He understands that second pasuk also refers to the “detaching” (telisha) of water. Consequently the pesukim are teaching that there is a requirement of ratzon at the time of telisha; yet there are two types of telisha. One telisha is when it is detached from the ground (referred to in the first pasuk). The second telisha is the subsequent telisha for placing the water on the food (learnt from the second pasuk). Consequently the Mishnah teaches that the requirement for ratzon at the time of telisha can be fulfilled in one of two ways: either at the time of detaching it from the ground (or when raining); or at the time it makes contact with the food.


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