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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate ‘Abodah Zarah
'Ulla said: The difference [between R. Meir and R. Simeon] is over the circumstance where [the mixture] is improved [by the addition of the forbidden element] and in the end deteriorates, but if it deteriorates in the first instance all agree that it is permitted. R. Haga quoted against 'Ulla: If wine [which is nesek] fell into lentils or vinegar into split beans it is prohibited, but R. Simeon permits it. Hence is a case where it deteriorates from the outset, and for all that they differ! — 'Ulla replied: Haga is ignorant of what the Rabbis are here discussing and yet quotes it in objection. With what are we dealing here? E.g., it fell into cold split beans and he then warms them, the effect of which is to improve them, and only in the end are they deteriorated, and so they are prohibited. R. Johanan, on the other hand, said: The difference is when [the mixture] deteriorates from the outset. The question was asked: Is the difference over a case where it deteriorates from the outset and all agree that it is prohibited when it first improves and only in the end deteriorates, or perhaps in either event there is a difference of opinion?4 — The question remains unanswered.
R. Amram said: Is it possible that R. Johanan's statement5 should have any substance and not be the subject of a Mishnaic teaching? He went forth and examined and found a teaching. For we learnt: If non-holy yeast fell into dough and was sufficient to leaven it and did actually leaven it, and subsequently there fell into it yeast of a heave-offering or yeast of mixed plantings6 sufficient to cause leavening, it is prohibited — but R. Simeon permits it.7 Now, here is a case where [the mixture] deteriorated from the outset8 and yet they differ!9 — R. Zera said: It is otherwise with dough because it is capable of fermenting many other pieces of dough.10
Come and hear:11 If yeast of a heave-offering and also some which was non-holy fell into dough,12 each being sufficient to cause leavening, and they leavened it, then it is prohibited; but R. Simeon permits it. If the yeast of a heave-offering fell in first, all agree that it is prohibited;13 but if the non-holy yeast fell in first and then the yeast of a heave-offering or mixed plantings,14 it is prohibited, but R. Simeon permits it. Now here is a case where it deteriorated from the outset and yet they differ! Should you answer that here also
‘Abodah Zarah 68bR. Zera's explanation applies,1 come and hear the continuation [of this teaching]: If wine [which is nesek] fell into lentils or vinegar into split beans, it is prohibited, but R. Simeon permits it. Now here is a case where it deteriorated from the outset and for all that they differ! Should you answer that here also what 'Ulla taught R. Haga applies, viz., where it first improved and only in the end deteriorated, do they differ in a case where it first improves and only in the end deteriorates? For behold it taught: If the yeast of a heave-offering fell in first,2 all agree that it is prohibited! Is it not then to be concluded from this that there is difference of opinion even when it deteriorated from the outset? — Draw that conclusion.
Why were the three clauses3 which are taught necessary? — It is quite right that he quotes the third because he thereby teaches us that there is difference of opinion even when it deteriorated from the outset. The second likewise [taught us that] if it improved and in the end deteriorated all agree that it is prohibited. But why [quote] the first clause? Since in the third clause, where no improvement at all occurred, the Rabbis prohibit it, how much more so [must they prohibit it] where there was improvement! — Abaye said: The first clause is necessary because of R. Simeon,4 and the Rabbis spoke thus to R. Simeon: This dough should take two hours to leaven and what caused it to leaven in one hour? — [Yeast which was] prohibited.5 How does R. Simeon [meet this argument]? — When there was improvement it was caused by both [kinds of yeast]6 and when there was deterioration it was also caused by both. But according to R. Simeon, the lawful and prohibited elements should be combined and render [the dough] prohibited! — R. Simeon follows his own opinion, viz., that even two prohibited elements7 are not to be combined,8 for we have learnt: 'Orlah and mixed plantings may be combined; R. Simeon says that they may not be combined.9
A mouse fell into a cask of beer and Rab prohibited the beer. Some Rabbis mentioned this in the presence of R. Shesheth and remarked: He evidently was of the opinion that when it imparts a worsened flavour it is prohibited. [R. Shesheth] said to them: Rab certainly maintains elsewhere that when it imparts a worsened flavour it is permitted. Here, however, we have an anomaly since it is something repugnant and people recoil from it; and even then the Divine Law prohibited it10 with the consequence that although it imparts a worsened flavour it is nevertheless prohibited. The Rabbis said to R. Shesheth: According to your argument [a creeping thing] should defile11 whether moist or dry; why then have we learnt: They defile when moist but not when dry!12 — And according to your reasoning semen should defile whether moist or dry; why then have we learnt: It defiles when moist but not when dry! What, however, you could say is that the semen of which the Divine Law speaks [as defiling] is such as is capable of causing fertilisation; and likewise here [in connection with creeping things] the Divine Law uses the expression when they are dead,13 i.e., when they have the appearance of being dead.14 R. Shimi of Nehardea objected: Is [the mouse something] repugnant; is it not brought upon the table of kings! — R. Shimi of Nehardea said:15 There is no contradiction, for [what is served at meals] is the fieldmouse and [what fell into the beer] was the domestic mouse.
Raba said: The legal decision is that when it imparts a worsened flavour it is permitted, but what was Rab's reason [for prohibiting it] in the case where a mouse fell into beer I do not know. Was it because he held that when it imparts a worsened flavour it is prohibited and the legal decision is not in agreement with him, or because he held that when it imparts a worsened flavour it is permitted but a mouse in the beer causes an improvement [to the flavour]!
The question was asked:
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