Mixtures – Min Be’Mino

Orlah (2:6) | Ohad Fixler | 15 years ago

After something forbidden mixes with something permissible, one must define the status of this new mixture – is it forbidden or permissible? To establish the identity of this mixture, the Chachamim provided a number of parameters which one must clarify: What constitutes a majority of the mixture? Is the flavour of the prohibited ingredient identifiable? Is the prohibited ingredient special?

Before one can determine the status of the mixture one must first differentiate between two types of mixtures:

  1. Min be’mino – where both the forbidden and permissible ingredients are of the same type, for example, trumah wheat mixing with chulin wheat.

  2. Min be’she’eino – where the forbidden and permissible ingredients are different products, for example, trumah wheat mixing with chulin rice.

The Mishnayot in the second perek (6-7) establish differences between these two types of mixtures. The Mishnah deals with a case where the prohibited ingredient is particularly potent. For example, when this ingredient is mixed with the dough it causes it to leaven. In this case a min be’mino mixture is always prohibited while in a min be’she’eino mino mixture, if the permissible ingredient outweighs the forbidden ingredient one-hundred parts to one, then the mixture is permissible.

Why is there a difference between these two categories? Why is min be’mino treated more stringently?

The Gemarah (Menachot 22a) brings a debate between the Tana’im about whether the forbidden ingredient becomes annulled in a min be’mino mixture. If blood is mixed with wine, the sole criterion is whether the blood is recognizable in the mixture. But what if the two ingredients are the same product, for example regular blood and hekdesh blood? How does one determine whether one of the bloods absolves the other? R’ Yehudah maintains that blood never absolves blood and a forbidden product in a min be’mino mixture is never absolved. Conversely, the Chachamim maintain that one imagines that the regular bloods is water and determines whether or not the forbidden blood would be noticeable is such a mixture.

What is the logic behind R’ Yehudah’s opinion? It appears that according to R’ Yehudah as soon the forbidden ingredient is added, the entire mixture is assumed forbidden. One can only annul the prohibited ingredient if the flavour of the permissible ingredient annuls the flavour of the forbidden ingredient. In a min be’mino mixture however, both products have the same flavour. Consequently, one is left with a mixture containing a prohibited ingredient.

If so, how does on understand the opinion of the Chachamim? They understand that in order for the prohibited ingredient to prohibit the mixture it must have an effect on the overall mixture. Therefore if there is no qualitative (ta’am) or quantitative (rov) effect then it is annulled on a biblical level.

To summarise, the approach of the Chachamim is the reverse of R’ Yehudah. R’ Yehudah begins by prohibiting the mixture and only then determines whether the forbidden ingredient is annulled. Conversely, the Chachamim begin by permitting the mixture unless there is a substantial reason to prohibit it.

This debate appears in a number of other Gemarot (Avodah Zara 73b, Pesachim 29b) and one finds that when not dealing with kashrut, a prohibited ingredient can prohibit a min be’mino mixture not matter how small the quantity (see Avodah Zarah 66a). This appears to be the case in our Mishnayot: if the forbidden ingredient causes the min be’mino mixture to leaven, then the entire mixture is prohibit irrespective of the quantity of this forbidden ingredient. Conversely, in min be’she’eino mino mixture, one first determines whether the flavour of the prohibited ingredient is recognisable. This difference is logical as in a min be’she’eino mino mixture one needs to redefine the status of the mixture – one does this according to its taste. Yet, for a min be’mino mixture, this “test” is not feasible.

One should note that the Halacha in kashrut is that in a min be’mino mixture, the forbidden ingredient is absolved if it is in the minority (Shulchan Aruch 98). A min be’mino mixture is simpler to permit in this area than a min be’she’eino mino mixture which, even though is biblical absolved in a majority, the Chachamim require the forbidden ingredient to be outweighed sixty parts to one.

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