Last Week of Mixing Meat and Milk, the Impact of Salting

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by R. Gidon Rothstein

Parshat VaYakhel

Probably it’s my short attention span, but in these pieces, I try not to get bogged down in a topic, and this is already the third week we’ve given to siman 91 of Yoreh De’ah—my way of saying we will be finishing this time, so be warned, I am not covering it all. I don’t even do what I can, let alone what I should.

Salted Foods and Absorption

Starting at se’if twenty-two, the Gemara thought salted foods mimicked the function of heat (we’ll see an interesting suggesting why, below), but not fully. We do not say teta’ah gevar, for the example we had been discussing, because heat produces steam, which rises, affecting the upper food in emission of its taste. Salted foods emit a taste for a kedei kelipah, the first peelable layer of the other food, regardless of position.

They do not change the other food, though. Nor does the salt here stop absorption (as opposed to meat salted to remove its blood; there, we say its focus on emission stops absorption, and even if it did re-absorb blood, ke-vol’o kach polto, the same way it absorbs it re-emits. AH is limiting the idea to meat and blood).

Based on this, if meat and cheese were to touch, both salted, both need peeling at the spot they touched, a kedei kelipah. If only one were salted, the other needs to be peeled, but the salted one could just be washed.

Se’if 23-4 introduces some extra factors: were the meat to be fully salted, inedible because of it, and it falls into a liquid, Rema thinks the two will absorb from each other, making the milk fully prohibited, not just kedei kelipah. Shach said it is because we do not say teta’ah gevar for salting, which AH took to mean that since the meat is salted, even though it fell into the unsalted, cold milk, there’s absorption, because Rema thought salted foods cause real absorption, requiring full nullification, not just as a rabbinic worry. (In se’if 25, AH argues with Chavvas Da’as about the specifics of Rema’s view; skipping, skipping, skipping.)

[I’m telling you just so you don’t think I am overindulgent in writing these columns. As some writer said—it was Arthur Quiller Crouch, whom I’d never heard of, but restated by Faulkner, popularized more by Stephen King—kill all your darlings, meaning the stuff you wanted to write but didn’t quite fit. All right, maybe that was self-indulgent, but I’m restraining myself from telling you the story it brought to mind, so…]

How Much Salt?

To define the level of salting that has made a food inedible, Chullin 112’s definition of meli’ach that counts as rotei’ach, hot (which means these halachot will rarely come up in our times). Tur cites several views: Rashi held it is how people salt food for storage (back when they didn’t have refrigeration), some say salted to last for a long trip, where Rabbenu Tam thought it was already enough if it was salted to cook in a pot, so it is not currently edible.

AH says Rabbenu Tam is the most accepted view, salting meat for roasting is not considered hot, but to cook it in a pot, where they apparently salted it more, the salt would have to be well washed after that for us to think it no longer conveys taste. With higher levels of salting, like for storage or a journey, the food would need to be soaked to stop its being considered hot and salted.

How Long?

Se’ifiim 27-30 wonder how long the salt continues to effect the food that way, as well as when it starts doing it. Shach and Taz agreed salted kosher meat would have to be considered hot for days, in contrast to siman 69, where Rashi held that once raw meat had been salted for enough time to remove the blood, it would no longer be considered hot.

AH resolves the conflict, Rashi said what he did because the salt there used up its power to heat in removing the blood, the salt on already kosher food has nothing else to do but heat it.

Most views think the heat starts right away. Rema instead cites an opinion (Ran in the name of R. Yehudah al-Bartzeloni, of Barcelona) that the salt has to have been on the meat for a shi’ur melichah, the time it would have needed to remove the blood were this as of yet unkashered. Its surprising, because Rema himself had rejected that view back in siman 69. Shach thinks Rema agreed with Rashi about salt expending its energy to remove blood, but here, doesn’t get started until it has been on the meat for that time.

AH isn’t satisfied, thinks we do not accept this view, we hold the salt begins acting right away and continues to act past the time it would have been on for blood-removal purposes.

The Juices

When salting causes juices to extrude (not blood juices, as this meat has already had its blood salted out of it), those juices are considered hot, despite the meat itself not being so, because the salt led to these juices coming out. (He seems to mean that whenever salt produces motion, those substances would be considered rotei’ach. If I’m right, it gives an interesting insight into the Talmudic phrase meli’ach ke-rotei’ach, salting is like boiling. Rather than meaning that salt heats food, it could mean salt causes motion in the particles of the food similar to the motion caused by heat).

Here again, we encounter the debate about the power of salting. For those views it only needs a kedei kelipah, the food on which the juices fell would need only be washed; for Rema and those who agree with him, that it needed sixty, here it would need netillat makom, the whole place would have to be dug out. Along the same lines, AH thinks if such juice fell on a pot or dish, the utensil would need hag’alah, boiling water in it to leech out whatever taste had been absorbed. For clay pots, we usually do not accept hag’alah, although Peri Megadim suggested (AH quotes it in se’if 32) that if the juice fell on the outside of the pot, we could use it in cases of great need (because the absorption on the outside doesn’t go all the way through). While fattiness affects absorption in other foods (causes it to spread throughout), it does not work that way for pots and pans.

Still, for removing a layer, we need hag’alah, boiling water inside it, not pouring hot water into it, irui, because we only treat irui as if it impacts a kedei kelipah to be stringent, not lenient.

Cold or Raw Meat

Se’ifim 33-36 review a particular case, whose details interest me less than the principles we learn in 35-36. Shulchan Aruch accepted Rashi’s view, cold meat that falls into something needs only washing, even if it is cooked, and therefore softer than raw meat, and has grooves in it (that might expedite absorption). Rema adopted the view of Rosh and Semak, cold roasted meat needs a layer taken off, if it also had grooves and/or been spiced, it would all be prohibited. Although Rema did allow relying on Rashi where there was hefsed merubah, great loss involved, which means he thought Rashi had captured the halachic requirement, he thought it better to be stringent for Rosh/Semak’s view.

[AH seems to think Rema couldn’t accept Rashi’s view in cases of monetary loss unless he “really” accepted it as correct. I could have imagined the idea of elu va-elu, that all views expressed by competent halachic thinkers, have some viability, such that she’at ha-dechak allows us to act according to them. We don’t think those are “really” the law, we think they have enough backing that if circumstances call for it we can rely on it. An important distinction, and he seems not to accept what I just suggested.]

As always, more to say, but we will stop here, and start next time with the need for a woman’s consent to kiddushin, along with two valid witnesses.

About Gidon Rothstein

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