Bitul for Sheviit

Sheviit (7:7) | Yisrael Bankier | 5 years ago

The Mishnah (7:7) provides a general rule regarding bitul (annulment). If there is a mixture of shemittah produce with regular produce, if the mixture is min be’mino – the same type of produce – then even the smallest amount (kol she’hu) of shemittah produce would affect the mixture. In other words, in a case of min be’mino, shemittah produce is never annulled. If however the mixture was min be’she’eino mino – the shemittah and regular produce are of different types – then the shemittah produce only affects the mixture if it is noten taam – it noticeably imparts a flavour. We shall try to understand this ruling.

The Bartenura explains that the rule of the Mishnah only applies after biur. Prior to that, irrespective of the types in the mixture, the shemittah produce only affects it if it is noten taam. Before we can explain the Bartenura, we must first understand the mitzvah of Biur.

The law of biur is that one is only allowed to have shemittah produce inside their house as long as it is found in the field. What must be done after that time is debated by the Rishonim. We will learn (9:8) that one can first distribute three meals worth of food to each member of his household. According to the Rambam (Shemittah 7:1-3) the excess must be burnt or thrown into the dead sea. According to the Ramban (Vayikra 28:7) the excess must be removed from the house and declared ownerless; after which anyone can claim them. If someone keeps the produce beyond that time it becomes assur (rabbincally). The Raavad however explains that biur is really a two steps process. Once the produce is no longer found in the field about the city, the food is distributed or declared hefker. When the food can no longer be found in any of the fields in the region (9:2-3) then anything remaining must be destroyed.1

Returning to the Bartenura, his position is based on the Gemara Nedarim (58a). There R’ Shimon explains that if a prohibited food is in a mixture, but that there is a means for that prohibited item to become permissible, then it is not batel (annulled). This is referred as davar she’yesh lo matirin. Our case is raised as a difficulty since it a perpetual prohibition, yet, in the case of min be’min is not batel. He responds that with respect to Shemittah it is not batel only with respect to biur; regarding consumption however, the threshold is noten taam. What does this mean?

The Ramban understands that prior to the time of biur, since the mitzvah of biur can be performed which would permit the entire mixture, it is not batel. The Ran explains in a similar manner, that prior to the time of biur the problem can be solved by consuming the entire mixture – a permissible resolution to the problem. If however one keeps shemittah produce beyond this time then it becomes completely assur like a regular issur. Consequently, it would only prohibit the mixture of it was noten taam.

Note however that the Barenura takes the opposition stance. Why, according to the Bartenura, prior to the time of biur is the Shemittah produce batel if there is a means of permitting the mixture?

The Tosfot Anshei Shem cites the Nodeh BeYehuda who explains that he holds like the Terumat HaDeshen that a dvar she’yesh lo matarin refers only to a prohibited item that becomes permissible at a later point. Prior to the time of biur one is not prohibited from eating shemittah produce therefore it cannot be referred to as a davar she’yesh lo matirin. After the time of biur however, since one had the opportunity to remove the shemittah and decided not to, the Chachamim instituted a knas (fine) prohibiting the entire mixture irrespective of proportions.


1 See Volume 7 Issue 23 where we explain this debate in more detail.

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