Multiple Contributing Causes Involving an Issur

Orlah (3:1) | Yisrael Bankier | 5 years ago

The Mishnah (3:1) discusses a case where a garment was dyed using the peel from an orlah fruit, e.g. the peel of a pomegranate. The Mishnah rules that the entire garment must burnt. The Mishnah then discusses the case where the garment becomes mixed with other garments. R’ Meir maintains the all must be burnt irrespective of the quantity of the permissible garments. The Chachamim however treat the case as a regular mixture involving orlah. Consequently, if there is a ratio of two-hundred permissible garments to the single olrah garment then the mixture would be permitted.

The Lechem Mishnah (Maachalot Assurot 16:20) however asks that this case should be consider ze ve’ze gorem and therefore be permitted. To explain, we have seen in the previous perek a number cases where a two components, one of which forbidden, are mixed in and have an effect on the mixture. We learnt (2:4) that if trumah sourdough causes dough to leaven (mechametz) then it is not annulled irrespective of the quantities. If it cannot then we would apply the normal rules of bitul (annulment) and in the case of terumah, it would be annulled in a ratio of one-hundred parts to one. We also learnt about cases where both permissible and prohibited sourdough mixed with dough. If neither of the sourdoughs are enough to cause the dough to leaven, yet in combination they the can, R’ Eliezer maintains the dough is prohibited while the Chachamim disagree. The debate is based on the question of whether in general, a mixture involving something prohibited that required something permitted to have an effect, is prohibited. This is referred to as ze ve’ze gorem – “this and this cause”. The Lechem Mishnah asks that since the dye required the fire to have an effect it should be considered ze ve’ze gorem and be permitted (in line with the opinion of the Chachimim).

The Lechem Mishnah suggests that this case is different since the two elements are performing different actions. The Tosfot Anshei Shem explains that this means that a case is only considered ze ve’ze gorem if the two elements are perform the same action. Using our previous example, both sourdoughs caused the dough to leaven. In this case however, the orlah dye cause the change in colour, while the heat caused the dye to be absorbed. The two are in fact performing different actions so the rule of ze ve’ze gorem cannot be applied.

The Tosfot Anshei Shem however cite the Rambam (Avodah Zara 7:14) that appears to contradict the Lechem Mishnah’s explanation. The Rambam rules that one can plant vegetables under a tree of Avodah Zarah (Asheria). Despite the fact that the vegetables benefit from the shade, the earth also contributes to its growth. In other words, we find that even though the tree and earth are acting on the vegetables in different ways, the Rambam still defines this case as ze ve’ze gorem.

The Tifferet Yaakov however comes to the defence of the Lechem Mishnah explaining his words in a different manner. He explains that in this case the dye only takes effect because of the fire. Ze ve’ze gorem is only when each element contributes directly. In this case, it is only the dye that is having an effect, the fire is simple a machshir – an enabler. Were this not the case then one would define any case where a mixture is cooked together as being ze ve’ze gorem. Furthermore, one could even reason that in our example, since the dough also required water to rise, it should be considered ze ve’ze gorem. Consequently, he prefers this more restricted definition of ze ve’ze gorem.

The Tifferet Yaakov also suggests another answer. He explains that ze ve’ze gorem is only relevant where the prohibited element is not visually discernible; only its effect. Such is the case with mechametz, metabel (spicing) or bread baking in an oven fuelled with asheira wood. In this case however since we can still identify the issur the rule of ze ve’ze gorem is not relevant.

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