The second perek of Masechet Orlah deals with prohibited items that become mixed with those that are permitted. Toward the end of the perek, the Mishnah discusses prohibited items that individually do not have the required minimum shiur, yet do so when joined together with other items. This subject is debated when the two prohibited items do not have the same classification of issur – eg. terumah and kilayei ha’kerem. In these cases the Chachamim rule that the mixture is permissible for kohanim, yet assur for non-kohanim. This is because kohanim are able to eat terumah and the mixture does not have the required minimum shiur to prohibit kilayim. Non-kohanim however, are not allowed to eat food of either of these categories – so therefore they join to prohibit the mixture. R’ Shimon however permits all people, kohanim and non kohanim alike, to eat of these mixtures. This is because R’ Shimon holds that issurim of two different categories do not join together to prohibit a mixture1.
The Mishnah (2:16) then brings a case of a mixture of chullin, kodshei kodshim, piggul and notar. Most mefarshim explain this Mishnah as following the same formula as the previous mishnayot. The Tanna Kamma holds that the mixture is prohibited to non-kohanim, yet permissible for kohanim. This is because kohanim are able to eat kodshei kodshim, and the required minimum shiur for prohibition is not satisfied by the remaining combination of piggul and notar alone. Understanding the Mishnah in this way, R’ Shimon then counters the Tanna Kamma and states that the mixture is permissible for all people to eat as even kodshei kodshim, piggul and notar are not of the same category of issur, and therefore do not combine to prohibit the mixture.
The Rambam however, views this Mishna as disconnected to the previous ones, and introduces a novel idea. The Rambam classifies the issurim of notar and piggul as prohibited for both kohanim and non-kohanim, however, his chiddush is that these prohibitions are more chamur for a non-kohen than for a kohen. The logic behind this is that pigul and notar were at one point permitted for a kohen to eat. This was at the time when it was at the kodshei kodshim stage. On the other hand, these pigul and notar items were always prohibited to non-kohanim – because a non-kohen is also prohibited to partake of kodshei kodshim.
The Rambam interprets the Mishnah as referring to a case where one cooked chullin food with pieces of kodshei kodshim, piggul and notar together – and then removed these three pieces of issur. The Tanna Kamma holds that the remaining meat is assur to non-kohanim because of the kodshei kodshim, pigul and notar that were cooked with them. However, it is mutar for kohanim, because the prohibition of pigul and notar is not as chamur for them (and they are able to eat of kodshei kodshim). R’ Shimon disagrees and states that there are no levels of severity to differentiate between kohanim and non-kohanim vis-a-vis pigul and notar, ie. there is a uniform prohibition that applies to all. The case of the Mishnah is referring to a specific case where it is batel b’shishim(in a case of min b’mino) or the issur does not impart flavour (in a case of min b’shaino mino) and with the added fact that the pieces of meat removed are recognisable as those that are forbidden (ie. original pieces of kodshei kodshim, pigul and notar). In this situation, R’ Shimon maintains that the mixture is permitted for both kohanim and non-kohanim alike.
1 The Mishnah Rishona (2:16) explains R’ Shimon’s need to bring this case is that as one may have thought that since pigul, notar and zarut (eating of kodshei kodshim by non-kohen) all apply to korbanot than it is considered one category of issur and should join together to prohibit the mixture. Therefore, R’ Shimon teaches us that even here the issurim are considered as separate categories.
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