Drawn Water Mixtures

Mikvaot (7:5) | Yisrael Bankier | 6 years ago

The seventh perek discusses cases that involve liquids other than water falling into a mikveh. The fifth Mishnah discusses a mikveh that is less than forty seah – the minimum size of a mikveh. Recall that if three log of drawn water fall into such a mikveh then the mikveh is invalid. The Mishnah first explains that if three log of water mixed with a kortov of wine falls into the mikveh, if the mixture looks like wine then the mikveh would be valid. The second case involves a mixture of a kortov less than three log of water and a log of milk that falls into the mikveh. Ff it appears like water the mikveh is nevertheless valid. This is because in the mixture there is less than three log of drawn water. R’ Yochanan ben Nuri however argues that we “always go according to the appearance”. The Bartenura explains that according to R’ Yochanan ben Nori, in the second cases, since there is three log that appears like water the mikveh should be invalid.

The Tifferet Yisrael presents the question that according to the Chachamim since the small kortov of milk is far outweighed by the drawn water, it should be considered annulled and the entire mixture should be considered drawn water. In other words, the mikveh should be considered pasul.

The Tifferet Yisrael answers that the reason that drawn water is invalid in this mikveh is due to a rabbinic decree. In Gemara Shabbat (14) it explains initially people would immerse mikvaot in caves that were fetid and subsequently wash in clean, drawn waters. The Chachamim made a gezeira that the drawn water would be tameh since people wrongly concluded that the washing after was what caused tahara and not the mikveh waters. The Tifferet Yisrael understands the issue of three log of drawn water is part of that gezeira. He adds, that we see the Rosh explains that three log is a considerable amount for washing. Consequently, the gezeira only included cases where there was three log of drawn water from the outset. Furthermore, the case of milk mixing with drawn water is an edge case, and edge cases are generally not covered by gezeirot (Beitzah 18a).

Another answer suggested in the Yalkut Biurim is based on the following Minchat Chinnuch (10:6). He explains that when something is batel in the majority, it is effective inasmuch as removing an issur (assuming the issur is in the minority). However the bitul is not effective in the sense that the minority can take on all the laws of the majority. One example the Minchat Chinnuch brings is that if chametz was batel amongst matzah, if one ate a kezayit of that mixture on the first night of Pesach he would not have fulfilled his obligation. Similarly in our case, even if we say that the milk was batel in the water, it does not mean that we now have three log of drawn water to invalidate the mikveh.

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