Mixed Vegetables and Biur

Sheviit (9:5) | Yisrael Bankier | 2 months ago

During the week we discussed the mitzvah of biur. In other words, when shemittah produce is no longer found in the field it must be removed from the house. We have discussed previously 7(23) what must then be done with that produce. The Mishnah (9:5) discusses a case where one pickled different vegetables together, that have different times for biur. R' Eliezer argues that once the time of biur arrives for one of the vegetables, all must be removed. R' Yehoshua argues, that they can all be retained until biur applies to all the vegetables. Finally, Rabban Gamliel maintains that when the time of biur arrives for a vegetable, it alone must be removed. We shall try to understand this debate.

The Yerushalmi explains that R' Eliezer maintains that since the flavour from the first vegetable is absorbed in the others, they all must be removed. R' Yehoshua however argues that that since the flavour from the last vegetables is absorbed in the others, biur would not apply. The Rash explains that R' Yehoshua argues that since the vegetables have a flavour of a vegetable for which biur does not apply, one should not be allowed to perform biur. The Gemara however counters that the last vegetable has absorbed flavour for something that requires biur. The Gra explains that since that last vegetable has absorbed taam (flavour) that requires biur, it is difficult to understand how it can save the other vegetables from biur.

The Rash continues that the position of R'Eliezer, that rules stringently in this case is readily understood. R' Yehoshua however requires further thought. The Rash suggests several solutions. The first is that perhaps the Mishnah is referring to nowadays where shemittah is rabbinic. Consequently, it is only in this context that R' Yehoshua is lenient. Alternatively, perhaps R' Yehoshua is lenient in this case since the vegetables were pickled together prior to the time of biur for any of the vegetables, prior to an "issur" being in the mixture. R' Tam (Pesachim 52a) however cites the Torat Kohanim that explains that R' Yehoshua's position is based on pesukim from which he derives that one is allowed to consume food as long as part of that food, even if it is a foreign taam, is still found in the field.

Interestingly Rashi understands that once the vegetables are pickled together, they are considered one. R' Eliezer maintains that as soon as biur applies to part of that "unit" it must be removed, whereas R' Yehoshua allows it to continue to be consumed until the biur applies to the entire food. It would follow then that Rabban Gamliel maintains that they continue to be treated independent.

Until now we have assumed that "first" and "last" refer to the time of biur. R' Nissim however understands that the first and last refer to the order in which the vegetables were added to pickling (see all the Raavad). Consequently, it would seem that R' Eliezer and R' Yehoshua debate how this order would impact the transfer of taam, as one may dominate. Nevertheless, the Rash rejects this opinion since when the Torat Kohanim records the opinion of R' Eliezer it writes that when "one" reaches biur, biur applies to them all. This implies that the ruling holds true, irrespective of the order they were placed in the container.

Let us now turn our attention to Rabban Gamliel who maintains that each of the vegetables are treated independently. The Tosfot explains that Rabban Gamliel maintains that biur does not apply to taam. The reason is that the taam is already considered as if it is mevuar (removed).

The Tosfot Yom Tov notes that the Bartenura rules according to Rabban Gamliel. That being the case, the Mishnah at the end of the seventh perek would appear to not be going according to halacha. That Mishnah rules that shemittah produce can make other produce assur "be noten taam" -- by imparting a flavour. In other words, the absorbed taam of shemittah produce would make other produces assur.

The Mishnah Achrona suggest that our case is different since it is a case of pickling. Pickling is not equivalent to cooking. While it is true that it can cause the vegetables to absorb the liquids in which they are soaking, according to R' Gamliel it does not cause the transfer of taam between vegetables.

The Tosfot R' Akiva Eiger however argues that the Mishnayot are discussing two different laws. The Mishnah at the end of the seventh perek was discussing the taam of shemittah produce such that the other product should be treated with kedushat sheviit -- one should treat it accordingly and not trade with it. Biur however is different and does not apply to taam -- it is already mevuar.

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