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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Nazir

Folio 37a

On my view that what is permitted and what is forbidden combine fin general], this will offer no difficulty, for it may be taken for granted that hullin predominated;1  whereas on your view [that there is a prohibition whenever] an olive's bulk is consumed within the time taken to eat a peras, what difference would the predominance of hullin make?2  — [R. Dimi] replied: Do not seek to argue from terumah at the present time, for [its sanctity] is rabbinic.3

Abaye asked [R. Dimi]: What ground is there for assuming that the purpose of the phrase 'soaked in'4  is to indicate that what is permitted and what is forbidden combine,5  for may not its purpose be to indicate that the taste is equivalent to the substance itself?6  (Is not this curious? First Abaye is perplexed by R. Dimi's statement7  and points out all the above contradictions, and then he suggests that perhaps, after all, the flavour is equivalent to the substance!8  — After [R. Dimi] had answered him,9  he went on to suggest that perhaps its purpose is to indicate that the taste is equivalent to the substance itself.)10  For it has been taught: The phrase 'soaked in' makes the taste equivalent to the substance itself, so that if [the nazirite] soaked grapes in water and this acquired the taste of wine, there would be a penalty [for drinking it].11  From this case, an inference may be drawn applicable to all prohibitions of the Torah. For seeing that in the case of the nazirite where the prohibition is not permanent,12  where he is not forbidden to derive any benefit [from wine],13  and where he may even have the prohibition removed,14  the taste was declared to be equivalent to the substance, then in the case of mixed seeds in the vineyard15  where the prohibition is permanent, where it is forbidden to derive any benefit from them, and where there is no way in which the prohibition can be removed it surely follows that the flavour is to be equivalent to the substance itself. The same argument applies to Orlah16  which has two [of these properties].17  — [R. Dimi] replied:18  The above represents the view of the Rabbis, whereas R. Abbahu, in making his statement [on behalf of R. Johanan],19  was following the opinion of R. Akiba.

To what [statement of] R. Akiba [does this refer]? Shall I say that it is the [dictum of] R. Akiba to be found here [in our Mishnah] where we learn: R. AKIBA SAID THAT THERE IS A PENALTY EVEN IF HE SOAKS HIS BREAD IN WINE AND ENOUGH [IS ABSORBED] TO COMBINE INTO AN OLIVE'S BULK;20  But whence [do you know that the olive's bulk includes the bread eaten]?21  May it not mean that the wine alone must be an olive's bulk! And should you object that the statement would then be obvious?22  [To this we may reply] that its object is to indicate dissent from the opinion of the first Tanna23  [that there is no penalty] Unless he drinks a quarter [of a log] of wine! It must therefore be the [statement of] R. Akiba to be found in the following Baraitha where it is taught: R: Akiba said that a nazirite who soaks his bread in wine and eats an olive's bulk of the bread and wine is liable [to the penalty].

R. Aha, the son of R. Iwia, asked R. Ashi: Whence will R. Akiba, who interprets the phrase 'whatever is soaked in' as implying that permitted and forbidden foods combine, derive the rule that the taste is equivalent to the substance itself?24  — He can derive it from [the prohibition of] meat and milk [seethed together],25  for there is no more than the mere taste in that case26  and yet it is forbidden, whence we may infer that the same is true here.27  The Rabbis do not allow this inference to be made from meat and milk because it is an anomalous [prohibition].28

What constitutes its anomaly? Shall I say it is the fact that each constituent is permitted separately, while the combination is forbidden? Surely also in the case of mixed [seeds]29  each constituent is permitted separately and the combination is forbidden!30  — It is, therefore, the fact that If soaked in milk all day long, [the meat] remains permitted, and yet on seething it becomes forbidden.31

Must not R. Akiba, too, agree that [the seething together of] meat and milk is an anomalous [prohibition]?32  — It must therefore be

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. So that there would no longer be a Torah-prohibition, for the predominance of the hullin causes the terumah to lose its identity in Torah-law. This argument could not be used of spices since its flavour which permeates the whole dish is too strong to become neutralised.
  2. For it is unlikely that the Baraitha is assuming that there was so little in the baskets that a peras of the mixed contents afterwards contained less than an olive's bulk of the contents of one of them. The Torah-doubt would therefore remain.
  3. After the destruction of the Temple and the depopulation of Judea, many scriptural precepts, including the separation of tithes and terumah were still observed by the people, although not strictly binding on them in Torah law.
  4. V. supra p. 128, n. 6.
  5. In the case of the nazirite prohibitions only, as asserted by R. Dimi quoting R. Johanan. V. supra 35a, end.
  6. I.e., anything flavoured with a forbidden substance is equally forbidden, even as the forbidden substance itself. [That is, provided the forbidden substance consisted originally of the size of an olive. This requirement distinguishes Abaye's principle from the one reported by R. Dimi in virtue of which what is permitted combines with what is forbidden, even though the Iatter is less in size than an olive's bulk.]
  7. And considers that the same should be true of all prohibitions, not merely the nazirite prohibition.
  8. Thus rejecting the inference in toto!
  9. All the questions he put to him.
  10. The bracketed passage is an interjection.
  11. And so why does not R. Johanan make the same inference as the author of this Baraitha? The rest of the paragraph contains the concluding portion of the Baraitha.
  12. But lasts as long as the naziriteship, which may be as little as thirty days.
  13. He may, for example, sell it.
  14. By giving sufficient grounds for this to a Sage.
  15. It was forbidden to sow grain between the vines, v. Deut. XXII, 9.
  16. The fruit of a tree during its first three years after planting, v. Lev. XIX, 23.
  17. The prohibition is permanent, and it is forbidden to derive any benefit from it, but after the 3rd year the fruit may be eaten. — This ends Abaye's argument.
  18. [So Var. lec. Cur. edd.: 'A certain scholar said to him'.]
  19. Supra 35b, that permitted and forbidden foods combine in the case of the nazirite prohibition.
  20. Supra 34b.
  21. To enable us to infer that permitted and forbidden foods combine.
  22. In which case there would have been no point in having it in the Mishnah.
  23. The Tanna of the 'earlier Mishnah' mentioned in our Mishnah.
  24. It is assumed that R. Akiba admits this rule.
  25. V.Ex. XXIII, 19.
  26. Since the meat by itself is forbidden owing to the taste of the milk it absorbed.
  27. I.c., that water having the taste of wine is forbidden the nazirite.
  28. And 50 cannot be made the basis of a general rule.
  29. The planting of mixed seeds in a vineyard, v. Deut. XXII, 9.
  30. So that milk and meat are not unique in this respect.
  31. Thus it is not the taste but the seething that is at the root of the prohibition.
  32. From which no analogies can be drawn.

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Nazir 37b

that he derives the rule from the [necessity for] scalding the vessels of a Gentile.1  For the All-Merciful Law has said, Everything that may abide the fire [ye shall make go through the fire etc,]2  telling us that they are [otherwise] forbidden. Now the scalding of a Gentile's vessels [must be done] because the mere taste is forbidden, and so here too, the same is true.

Then why should not the Rabbis also infer this rule from the scalding of a Gentile's vessels? — [Rab Ashi] replied: There [too] the prohibition is anomalous for everywhere else in the Torah whatever imparts a worsened flavour is permitted,3  whereas in the case of the scalding of a Gentile's vessels a worsened [flavour]4  is forbidden.

Must not R. Akiba agree that this case is anomalous?5  — R. Huna b. Hiyya replied: According to R. Akiba, the Torah only forbade utensils that had been used [by a gentile] on the same day, in which case the flavour is not detrimental.6  And the Rabbis? — They considered that even with a pot that had been used on the same day it was impossible for the flavour not to be slightly detrimental. R. Aha, the son of R. Iwia, said to R. Ashi: The Rabbis' opinion should throw a certain light on the views of R. Akiba. For the Rabbis say that [the phrase] 'whatever is soaked in' has as its object to indicate that the taste is equivalent to the substance itself, and [further] that a rule may be derived from this applicable to all prohibitions of the Torah. And so, ought not R. Akiba also, who interprets this same [phrase] 'whatever is soaked in' as implying that what is permitted combines with what is forbidden, infer [further] from it a rule applicable to all prohibitions of the Torah?7  [R. Ashi] replied: [He does not do so] because the nazirite and the sin-offering8  are dealt with in two verses [of Scripture] from which the same inference9  is possible, and whenever there are two verses from which the same inference is possible no other cases may be inferred.10

The nazirite [passage] is the one just explained.11  What is [the inference from] sin-offering? It has been taught: [The verse] Whatsoever [food] shall touch the flesh thereof12  shall be holy13  might be taken to imply that [it becomes holy] even if none [of the sin-offering] is absorbed by it.14  Scripture [however] says the flesh thereof, [this indicates that it becomes sacred] only when It absorbs from its flesh;15  'it [then] shall be holy', [that is, have the same degree of sanctity] as [the sin-offering] itself.16  If the latter is ritually unfit [to be eaten]17  the other becomes unfit also, whilst if it is still permitted, the other is also permitted, only under the same conditions of stringency [as the sin-offering].18

What can the Rabbis [say to this argument]?19  — They will contend that both verses are necessary.20  For if the All-Merciful had inscribed only the verse relating to the sin-offering it would have been said that we have no right to infer from it the case of the nazirite, for we could not infer anything about the nazirite from [regulations applying to] sacrificial meats.21  Again, had the All-Merciful inscribed only the verse relating to the nazirite, It could have been argued that no rule can be derived from the nazirite, since the prohibitions in his case are very severe indeed for he is forbidden even the skin of the grape. On this ground we should have been able to infer nothing. [Thus both verses are necessary.]

What is R. Akiba's reply [to this argument]? — He will reply that both verses are certainly not necessary. Granted that had the All-Merciful inscribed only the verse relating to the sin-offering, we could not have deduced the case of the nazirite because what is profane cannot be inferred from [regulations applying] to sacrificial meats,22  yet the All-Merciful could have inscribed only the verse relating to the nazirite, and the case of the sin-offering could have been deduced from this, since [in any case] all other prohibitions of the Torah are inferred from the nazirite prohibition.23  And the Rabbis? — They [can] reply that while the [verse relating to] sin-offering [tells us] that permitted and forbidden foods combine, we cannot infer from [regulations applying to] sacrificial meats any rule concerning profane food,24  [whereas] when the phrase 'whatever is soaked in' tells us that the taste is equivalent to the substance itself, a rule is inferred from this applicable to all prohibitions of the Torah. And R. Akiba? — He considers that both verses are intended to tell us that what is permitted combines with what is forbidden, so that these are two verses from which the same inference can be made, and when two verses occur from which the same inference can be made, no other cases may be inferred.25

R. Ashi said to R. Kahana: How are we to explain the following, where it is taught: '[The verse] Nothing that is made of the grape-vine, from the pressed grapes even to the grape-stone,26  teaches that the things forbidden to a nazirite can combine together'?27  For seeing that it is possible, according to R. Akiba, for what is permitted to combine with what is forbidden, need we be told that the same is true of two species of forbidden substances? — [R. Kahana] replied: What is permitted [combines with] what is forbidden only [if they are eaten] together, whereas two species of forbidden substances combine even [if eaten] consecutively.

Now R. Simeon

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Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. Before they can be used by Jews.
  2. Referring to the vessels captured by the Jews during the campaign against Midian. Num. XXXI, 23. The scalding prescribed causes the sides of the vessel to exude forbidden flavours that may have been absorbed.
  3. And consequently does not cause what is permitted to become forbidden. For the derivation of this rule v. A.Z. 67b.
  4. Any flavour exuded from the sides of a cooking-utensil nor properly scalded of course worsens the food.
  5. And so bow can it form the basis of our rule.
  6. And we may properly infer that the flavour of a forbidden substance is forbidden.
  7. Whereas R. Johanan, who is following the opinion of R. Akiba, expressly confines the rule to nazirite prohibitions only; v. supra 35b.
  8. This is explained immediately below.
  9. Viz.: That a permitted and a forbidden substance combine.
  10. Ordinarily a rule is derived from a single passage. If another passage occurs from which exactly the same rule would follow, it can only be because there is in fact no rule, and both the cases are exceptional; v. Sanh. (Sonc. ed.) p. 458, n. 9.
  11. Whatever is soaked in … Num. VI, 3.
  12. I.e. of the sin-offering.
  13. Lev. VI, 20.
  14. The meaning is: It might have been taken as implying this if the word flesh had not been used.
  15. In which case the permitted and forbidden foods have combined. R. Akiba's deduction now follows. [The text of cur. edd. is difficult. A better reading is preserved in the Sifra a.l. 'till it absorbs', omitting the words, 'into its flesh.]
  16. The sin-offering could be eaten only 'by the males of the priesthood, within the hanging of the court, the same day and evening until midnight'. (M. Zeb. V, 3; Singer's P. B. p. 12). For other meats there were other, often less stringent regulations. (Ibid.).
  17. E.g. because it is after midnight.
  18. See note 10.
  19. If the verses relating to nazirite and sin-offering both lead to the same inference how do they establish their rule about taste and substance?
  20. I.e. That it is in fact impossible to infer the rule from either one of the passages taken alone, since its presence would have been put down to other properties of the sinoffering or the nazirite, which are really irrelevant as far as the rule is concerned.
  21. Since no rule about profane things can be inferred from sacred ones. This is a general principle.
  22. So that the inference that could be drawn from the sin-offering is admittedly not exactly the same as that drawn from the nazirite prohibitions
  23. By the Rabbis. For no mention of the sin-offering is made in the Baraitha (supra 37a). Thus this verse would be altogether superfluous, and the principle of 'two verses from which the same inference can be drawn' can be applied.
  24. And so this principle is confined to sacred meats.
  25. And that is why R. Akiba confines the principle to the nazirite prohibitions.
  26. Num. VI, 4.
  27. So that provided an olive's bulk is consumed there is a penalty, even if the quantity of each constituent is less than this.
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