Meat and Milk Mixing, Part Two

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by R. Gidon Rothstein

Parshat Ki Tissa

The Possibility of a Cook

AH has many questions about the principle we began last week, teta’ah gevar, the bottom food of a mixture tells us whether to consider the interaction hot or cold. He first brings up an issue discussed more fully in Yoreh De’ah 98 (we’re in 91), te’imat kefeila, having a non-Jewish cook taste a questionable food to tell us the tastes s/he can detect. Kereti U-Peleti (by R. Yonoson Eybeschuetz) wondered why we bring up teta’ah gevar at all, since having a non-Jew check it seems easier and clearer.

For an answer, AH reminds us that Rashi seemed to think te’imat kefeila works only when the prohibited material constitutes more than one in sixty of the mixture (in those cases today, we assume there must be taste). With less than one in sixty, even were there to be no detectable taste, Rashi would still pay attention to what was on bottom, and if it was hot, require reacting appropriately.

Ri and Rosh, though, relied on the cook for all mixtures, making it unclear what role teta’ah gevar would play in our considerations.

AH rejects the easy technical answer, this discussion comes for a case where we have no cook. He thinks we believe a cook only when we know prohibited material is present. Where we have no definite problem, we have no tradition to rely on the cook. (It seems counterintuitive, because if it’s less likely an issue, we would think it more possible to rely on the cook. AH is saying this strategy only applies where it was accepted.)

For a similar example, food whose problem arose in kli sheini or less, where the heat was at least one step removed from an actual fire, tradition’s certainty there was no absorption allows us to ignore a cook who says s/he detects taste. Here, too, our principle of teta’ah gevar, the bottom rules the interaction, lets us reject the claim of a cook who says the top material has in fact permeated the bottom.

We don’t even need to be rejecting the cook’s claims, because we always say the top does penetrate a kdei kelipah, the first layer does absorb taste, and that might be what the cook detected (we can say the same for irui, hot poured from a kli rishon, says AH).

In se’if ten, AH notes how oddly we use the rule: with cold on the bottom, we don’t reject what the kfeila said, we just explain it away. For hot on the bottom, we require a cook’s tasting it before we would let ourselves eat it. He suggests that’s how Chazal articulated the rule, where there is a suspected or expected prohibition, a cook can be consulted, but where no prohibition existed, we are not required to trust the cook.

The Amount of Bottom and Top

In se’ifim eleven and twelve, AH argues that teta’ah gevar applies where th bottom and top are roughly equal. Where there is much more of either, that will rule regardless of position. Tosafot Shabbat 42a were sure of this, because the Gemara there quotes a baraita about putting hot into cold but not vice verse (on Shabbat, the question there being about whether pouring hot into cold counts as cooking). Since the teta’ah gevar debate is among amoraim, rabbis of the time of the Gemara, who do not generally argue against universally agreed rules from the time of the Mishnah, this baraita should be a problem for those who held ila’ah gevar, the top food rules the interaction.

Rabbenu Tam says the baraita referred to where there was a lot more in the bottom than top. In such situations, we don’t even get to which is gevar, because the greater one overwhelms, regardless of whether it was already there or is now being introduced.

Solids and Liquids

Se’ifim thirteen through fifteen limit teta’ah gevar a bit more. It applies when a solid is placed onto a solid, or a solid onto/into a liquid or vice verse (but not liquid into liquid, he means, although he does not discuss it here). Sha’arei Dura 23 gave an example, cold non-kosher meat fell onto hot kosher. Even raw and unsalted, the heat of the bottom piece will extract prohibited taste out of the upper, or exude its own taste into the top one, if it is prohibited.

Semak added another reason to think so, heat rises, so if the bottom one is hot, the heat will rise and affect the upper one. Semak held this to be true even if the hot bottom is narrower than the upper piece of meat, where we might have thought it would only exude its heat straight up. No, says Semak, we have to expect the whole upper piece was affected by the lower one.

That’s only true for the piece that falls directly onto the lower one, says AH in se’if fifteen. If a second piece fell on the first, it would be too far removed to be affected by the heat of the bottom piece. As long as that bottom piece is solid. If it is liquid, then the second piece will have fallen into it, and will itself become hot, so that if a third piece falls onto it, it will be another example of teta’ah gevar, and we will have to expect that that third piece, too, absorbs prohibited matter. (AH pauses to remind us we mean the heat of fire; although salting is considered like heat for some purposes, as we will see below, not for these here.)

Peel a Layer

Se’ifim sixteen through nineteen take up a seeming contradiction in Shulchan Aruch. Se’if four of Shulchan Aruch required peeling a layer off hot meat that fell into cold milk (or vice verse), with nothing needed for the milk. Rema adds that if the owner forgot and cooked the meat without kelipah, it’s allowed anyway, an indication that the need for washing or peelingwas a rabbinic stringency, an idea that also explains why the milk did not need peeling (impossible) or to have sixty times the outer layer.

Some halachic authorities require sixty times the prohibited materials (as, for example, Riva did for our current case); AH thinks those decisors thought the need for peeling the layer was me-ikkar ha-din, the rule, not a chumra.

Conveniently, it explains why Shulchan Aruch seems inconsistent on the issue, in other places indeed require the peeling, here not. While some commentators on Shulchan Aruch thought he had contradicted himself, and rejected his leniency here, and others argued our situation allowed for a special leniency, because the meat has already mixed in the milk (Shach and Peri Chadash), AH agrees with Kereiti U-Peleiti that those answers are unconvincing.

R. Yonoson Eyebeschuetz suggested an answer AH can live with, although he prefers his own. He noted the overarching principle of basar be-chalav, the Torah only prohibited meat and milk cooked together, implying a full taste, where kelipah taste does not reach that level. Bedi’avad, where circumstances have gone wrong, we are allowed to ignore it.

AH sticks with his own idea, the need for kelipa here is a stringency (not for Kereiti U-Pleiti’s reason), because the upper material is being rapidly cooled off.

Salted Foods

Earlier, we saw the possibility of salted foods having greater transfer than ordinary cold foods, because the Gemara thinks salting shares qualities with heating. In se’if twenty, AH confirms it is here, too, were two salted items to fall together, we treat the salting like the heat of roasting, tzeli, so the salted food will affect the spot it hits. Where the top food was actually roasted, we would require netillat makom, digging out the place where the top food hit. Although Beit Yosef quoted Re’ah to have held precisely that, most authorities accept kelippah, peeling. [We’ll see salted foods more next time.]

Unless one of the foods is shamen, fatty, we find out in se’if twenty-one, because halachah thought taste spread through fatty foods more easily, and the fattiness of one will also serve to spread the taste throughout the other. If even one of the foods is shamen, we would require sixty times the prohibited matter in both foods to nullify it. Although some authorities thought salting had a similar impact to fattiness, we do not accept it, and think that (with dry foods) washing the point of contact is enough.

A lot to consider whenever foods meet which shouldn’t: the texture of the food, the level of heat involved, the placement. With more to come next week, the last of our current considerations of these kinds of mixtures.

About Gidon Rothstein

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