Terumah in Porridge

Tevul Yom (2:3) | Yisrael Bankier | 11 years ago

The Mishnah (2:3) taught:

A thick porridge made of trumah mixed with garlic and oil that a tevul yom touched - the entire mixture is pasul. A thick porridge of chulin mixed with garlic and oil of trumah that a tevul yom touched – only the place he touched is tameh...

Recall that a tevul yom is a sheni le’tumah and can transfer tumah to trumah but not chulin. The first part of the Mishnah is understood; since the porridge (which is trumah) is the main part, the garlic and oil are batel towards it.

The Gemara (Nazir 36a) elaborates on the second case where the porridge is chulin. Why is only the part that the person touched tameh? If we follow the reasoning provided for the first cases, then the trumah garlic and oil should batel to the chulin porridge and the entire mixture should be tahor. The Gemara answers that the reason is because if a zar consumed a kezayit then he would be liable to lashes (malkut).

The Gemara’s analysis requires explanation. Let us first ask a basic question: are the oil and garlic recognisable? If so, then the question of the Gemara does not make sense. Had a tevul yom directly touched the piece of trumah garlic why would anyone think that it should be tahor? If however the trumah oil and garlic were well mixed into the chulin porridge then how could only the place that was touched be pasul? It should be all or nothing!

Rashi (Pesachim 44a) takes the position that the trumah additives where well mixed in. He explains that the assumption in the question that everything should be tahor, is that a mixture where the ratio of chulin to trumah is less than one-hundred to one (meduma) but greater than a majority, is only rabbinically prohibited yet biblically annulled. Consequently for the purposes of tumah everything should be tahor. Inherent in the Gemara’s answer that since if a zar (non-kohen) consumed kezayit he would be liable to malkut, is that meduma is biblically prohibited. Consequently the porridge is given a status of trumah. Nevertheless since its status is not a severe as real trumah it is only partially tameh.

The Rabbeinu Tam takes the opposite approached; the oil and garlic are indeed recognisable on top of the porridge. Consequently if they were directly touched, the parts alone would be tameh as the concept of bitul could not apply to the discernable trumah additives. Yet the difficulty with this understanding was how the Gemara could even think that everything is tahor if direct contact was made with the garlic. The Rabbeinu Tam explains that the Mishnah implied that the part that was touched was biblically invalid (by stating “pasul’). The Gemara asked that this cannot be possible since on a biblical level food must be the size of a ke’beitzah to become tameh. Consequently even the parts that were directly touched should be tahor! The Gemara then answers that since if a zar ate the mixture he could receive lashes, it is evidence that the porridge can combine the pieces together. The pieces can therefore combine also to make the parts that were touched pasul.

A further novelty in the position of the Rabbeinu Tam is that with respect to the first case where the porridge was trumah and the garlic and oil where chulin. In that case we find that even if a person only touched the chulin garlic, the porridge would be pasul. The reason is that the garlic would be acting as a “yad” for the porridge through which tumah can transfer. Perhaps leaving the last statement not fully explained can act as a good bridge to the coming masechet.

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