Orlah Annulling Orlah - Understanding Neta Revai

Orlah (2:3) | Yisrael Bankier | a year ago

The Mishnah (2:3) teaches that prohibited foods can annul one another. To explain, if a prohibited food falls into other food, then if there is enough of the permitted food in the mixture, the prohibited item is annulled, and the mixture permitted. Exactly how much is required depends on the issur (prohibition). The Mishnah teaches that if two prohibited items fall into a mixture, one after the other, then one of the issurim can combine with the permitted contents to annul the other. The cases the Mishnah provides are orlah can combine to annul kilayim, kilayim can combine to annul orlah and orlah can combine to annul orlah. We shall try to understand the final case.

The Barternua explains that in the final case of olrah combining to annul orlah, one of the two is neta revai. Recall that neta revai is fruit in the fourth year of the trees planting that is treated much like maaser sheni; it must be taken to yerushalaim and consumed there. The Bartenura argues that this must be the case since the two items that fell in must be two different prohibitions, since parts of one issur cannot annul itself. The reason why it is referred to as orlah since "it comes for orlah". A simple understanding is that the fruit on that tree, in the previous year were orlah. A further proof that this must be the case is that the Mishnah did not also mention kilayim as being able to combine to annul kilayim. The Rosh also explains the Mishnah in this way.

It is important to understand that the Rosh and Bartenura understand, that if the two issurim were indeed both orlah, then even if the first olrah that fell in and was batel, it would be "reawakened" and combine with the second orlah after the second fell in and therefore not be batel. Interestingly the Rambam who understands that both issurim mentioned in the Mishnah are indeed orlah, would argue on this point. In other words, once the first issur is batel, and the person is aware it occurred, it can combine with the permitted products to annul the second issur -- of the same type -- that subsequently was mixed.

Returning to the Bartenura, the Chazon Ish (Orlah 4:4) notes that it is clear for the continuation in the Mishnah that the issurim mentioned in the Mishnah are only annulled in a ratio of one to two hundred. Neta Revai however is treated like maaser sheni. The Gemara explains (Bava Metzia 53a) that for maaser sheni, if there is a way of resolving the problem (e.g., redeeming the neta revai) then it is never batel. If not, then it is annulled if it is in the minority. It is therefore difficult to understand that the Mishnah is referring to neta revai considering that it requires two hundred to annul it.

The Derech Emuna (Maaser Sheni 9:1) however explains that there are two ways to understand the prohibition of neta revai. One way is to understand that neta reva is an independent prohibition. Alternatively, one can understand that it is part of the mitzvah of orlah that really continues for [four]{.ul} year. It is simply that the fourth year is afforded some leniencies; it is consumed in Yerushalaim or that it can be redeemed, and the money used to purchase food in Yerushalaim. The Derech Emuna explains that the Rosh (and Bartenura) maintain this second understanding. Consequently, since the neta revai is part of the prohibition of orlah, two hundred times the quantity of neta reva would be required to annul it much like the prohibition of orlah. Nonetheless, it is still considered a different "shem" such that they can annul one another as explained in our Mishnah.


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