The Status of Juice inside Fruit

Taharot (3:1) | Yehuda Gottlieb | 12 years ago

The Mishnah in the third Perek discusses the contamination of food by its own juices. It emerges from there that if juices comes out from a tamei food that was exactly a beitzah, the liquid does not contract tumah as the food itself cannot transmit tumah (as it is then less than the required shiur).

The Gemara in Pesachim (33b) mentions a machloket between Amoraim whether the liquid contained within a grape are absorbed within the fruit, or whether they are contained within it. The practical difference is that if the liquid is seen as only contained within, then they are not connected to the external skin – it is like liquid that fills a container. Therefore, the liquid itself can never become tamei while it is still within the fruit. This is because the juice is judged to be contained within the fruit’s skin, and considered to be a food distinct and separate from the fruit itself.

A difficulty arises since, as we have learnt, liquid acquires tumah no matter their measure. Now in the case of the Gemara in Pesachim, the skin of the fruit is tamei and the juice inside the fruit is in contact with the skin surrounding it. The logic should follow that the juice should become tamei from being in contact with the skin. However, we learn from here that since the juice has not yet emerged from the fruit, it is not yet legally viewed as a liquid, and therefore, cannot be made tamei.

Even if this juice inside the grape would be considered a liquid before extraction, it still would not be rendered tamei by the fruit skin as the grape possesses a far smaller volume than a beitzah. It therefore cannot render the juice it contains tamei, since food that is less than a beitzah does not transmit tumah. Even if this grape is in physical contact with other grapes which together measure more than a k’beitzah it does not combine to make the required shiur. This is because, with regard to generating tumah, individual food items do not combine unless they become a single unit or mass74.

Interestingly, even though the liquid contained within a fruit is seen to be a distinct food with regard to contracting tumah, we find it is treated differently in terms of measuring the volume of the fruit. Rashi (Pesachim 33b) explains that indeed, even though the juice of a grape is seen as a food distinct and separate from the grape itself (with regard to tumah) it is nonetheless subordinate to it and is included in its required measure for the overall grape. Rashi brings another example to illustrate this point from our perek in Taharot. In Mishnah 4 we learn that if one left a measure of food in the sun and it shrunk, or alternatively in the rain and it expanded, then the food is viewed as its current (and not original) shiur. For example – if one left a kezayit of cheilev in the sun and it shrunk, one is not chayav for its consumption. If he left less than a kezayit in the rain and it expanded to more than a kezayit – then one who eats is will be chayav for its consumption. The difference between these two volumes is not the forbidden item (in this case cheilev) itself – rather it is water. In fact Rashi mentions if one was to squeeze out all the water from this item, it would decrease to a permitted shiur. However, since at the time it was consumed it was more than a kezayit – one is forbidden to eat it.

Rashi says that the same applies for the juice contained within a fruit. Even though this juice is not connected to the fruit with regards to receiving tumah from the skin of the fruit – it is still not viewed as completely separate to the fruit and is viewed as part of the fruit to complete its required measure.

74 This is the subject of a machloket – the Rambam rules that a single mass is required; this is disputed by the Raavad (see Rambam Hilchot Tumat Ochlin 6:17).


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