Thursday, December 1, 2011

Attempt at a Synopsis of Y.D. §98

I hope to one day post my synopses of various simanim in Yoreh Deah in the traditional Hebrew/Aramaic. For now, here's this less comprehensive, English version:


A. Prohibited food[1] which was mixed into permitted food of a different type is prohibited insofar as it provides flavor, for although the substance of the prohibited food can be nullified by a greater part of permitted food, flavor without substance is also biblically prohibited.

This is termed a different type mixture.

B. According to the Meḥaber we rely upon a non Jew to determine flavor of a possible unkosher item, but only when there is no intention to testify. Although as a rule such testimony is unacceptable in matters of biblical law, Taz explains that the Meḥaber made an exception to the rule being that Rashi maintains that flavor without substance is only subject to a rabbinic injunction. This is notwithstanding the fact that the Meḥaber does not accept Rashi’s opinion as Halakha. Shakh explains otherwise that although this is a biblical matter such testimony is legitimate since the truth is easily verifiable.

C. Taz writes lack of intention to testify is defined specifically by a lack of knowledge that the testimony will be used to determine kosher status, whereas if the non Jew believes that the testimony is indeed testimony but for something else, e.g. a health related issue, it remains legitimate.

D. If there is no non Jew to determine taste, we evaluate the entire mixture: if the prohibited food is less than 1/60 of the permitted food the mixture is kosher, if not it is unkosher.

E. Rema states that the practice is to not rely on taste; rather we always require 60:1.

F. Shakh maintains that even according to Rema the practice to rely on taste does indeed apply when a Jew is capable of doing the tasting, e.g. to determine whether something mixed with meat may be eaten together with cheese. However Rabbi Abadi is of the opinion we are not to rely on taste whatsoever.


A. Prohibited food which was mixed into permitted food of the same type is rendered nullified by the greater part of permitted food according to biblical law, because no flavor is added by a food of the same type. However rabbinic law requires 60:1.

This is termed a same type mixture.

B. Rema writes that same type is determined by name. Shakh disputes this and maintains that it is determined by flavor.


A. If it is known that the greater part of a pot was permitted and the entire mixture spilled out before it was determined whether or not it amounted to 60:1, if the mixture is a same type mixture it is a question of a rabbinic injunction and the pot is permitted, but if it is a different type mixture it is a question of a biblical injunction and is prohibited.

B. Any food which is prohibited only by rabbinic law is similar in this regard to a same type mixture with a greater part permitted. Fowl with dairy is an exception according to Rema, and Taz explains that the rabbis sought to strengthen their laws in this area and therefore said that this case has the rule of a different type mixture. However, Shakh disagrees with Rema and maintains that all rabbinically prohibited foods are similar in this regard to same type mixtures with a greater part permitted.

C. A same type mixture with a greater part permitted which was consequently mixed into a different type of permitted food is only rabbinically prohibited according to Taz. According to Ḥazon Ish this is the law even when the same type permitted was added after the different type permitted. Shakh disputes this entirely because the final result contains flavor added by prohibited food. Those who are lenient respond to this argument by saying that in any event the greater part of the flavor is kosher which is no different than the greater part of the substance being kosher, which nullifies the smaller part according to biblical law.


A. Permitted food that mixed with prohibited food requires 60:1 against the entire volume of the prohibited even if it is subsequently removed from the mixture. That which the matter of how much flavor emitted from the prohibited is in doubt is not seen as a legitimate doubt for which the general rules of doubts (which allow for leniency when the doubt pertains to a rabbinic matter) apply, and therefore its entire volume must always be accounted for. Shakh cites two opinions as to why the general rules of doubts do not apply here:

1.      Rashba: A fool’s doubt is not a doubt. Any doubt that arises due to the fundamental lack of understanding on the part of the one in doubt (here the lack of proficiency in the matter of determining the exact amount of flavor emitted) does not constitute a legitimate doubt.

2.      Ran: The general rules of doubts only apply to doubts which occur by chance. Being that the question of how much flavor emitted is a perpetual doubt which arises in every situation that prohibited food is identifiable in a mixture, the sages sought to establish a general stringent standard.

It is my opinion that the Meḥaber maintains the explanation of the Ran. This creates a leniency in that a fool’s doubt is not inherently excluded from the general rules of doubts. However, the Meḥaber will admit to the tenuousness of a fool’s doubt in a case where there is widespread understanding of the subject in question and the one in doubt is merely part of a minority of laypersons.

B. Being that the requirement in this case for 60:1 against the entire volume is only as a result of our lack of proficiency, if it fell twice into the same mixture only one calculation of 60:1 is required. However, if it fell into another mixture another 60:1 is required, for the aforementioned reason.

C. Similarly, if a utensil capable of absorbing flavor which was used for prohibited food was subsequently used for permitted food, 60:1 is required against the entire used area of the utensil. Thus a ladle used to stir a pot full of prohibited food will require 60:1 against the entire part of it which was subsequently used to stir a pot full of permitted food, but not against any part untouched by the latter stirring. Some require 60:1 even against the untouched area which previously absorbed prohibited flavor, but the general practice is to be lenient.


A. Non-kosher fat which fell into a mixture can be removed by pouring cold water into the mixture, thereby causing the fat to congeal and float to the top. Since this is possible, it is a requirement to do so even if there is 60:1 against the fat. Taz and Shakh both state that even so this is not a viable option to render the mixture kosher without 60:1. Pri Ḥadash asserts that one need not perform this procedure if it will ruin the rest of the food, but Arukh Hashulḥan disagrees.


A. Ḥannan (The principle that once something absorbs non-kosher taste it becomes a non-kosher item in its own right) does not apply to utensils. Rema does cite an opinion that applies ḥannan to utensils made of pottery and Taz maintains this view as well, however Baḥ and Shakh reject this position and maintain that ḥannan never applies to utensils.

B. Ḥannan does apply to the accumulated flavor retained inside the walls of a utensil.

C. Shakh writes with regard to all prohibited foods other than the combination of meat and milk, in cases of financial loss one may rely on an opinion cited and rejected by Rema, that ḥannan does not apply inside the walls of a utensil whatsoever.


A. The requirement of 60:1 even applies to food which is less than the size of an olive (the size which Halakhically constitutes a consumption). Rabbinically prohibited foods require 60:1 as well.

B. In the event that it should be found that there is discernible flavor from the prohibited food even after it has been determined that it is less than 1/60 of the mixture, Shakh writes that it would retain its prohibited status. Taz seems to accept this position at first but then dismisses it and rules that in regard to standard ingredients (see the following law for clarification) 60:1 is always adequate, because anything less than 1/60 might sweeten the end product and improve it but its individual flavor is not sufficiently discernible. Arukh Hashulḥan maintains this view as well, as does Rabbi Abadi.


A. An ingredient which is used specifically for its (powerful) flavor such as salt or a spice is not nullified in 60:1, even if it is only rabbinically prohibited, because the taste is discernible even in much smaller proportions. Shakh writes however that even such an ingredient is nullified if it is obvious that it does not add any flavor, e.g. a drop of salt falls into a large pot, or it is a same type mixture.

B. Shakh notes that the entire previous law is rabbinic, for according to biblical law 60:1 is sufficient. According to the ruling of Rabbi Abadi cited above in I:F, any doubts in this situation would be regarded as doubts in matters of rabbinic law and one may be lenient.


Being that the purpose of 60:1 is to insure that there is no discernible flavor, even prohibited food can be used as part of the 60 as long as it is not of the same type as the prohibited food being nullified. For example, if there are 59 parts meat, one part milk, and one part non-kosher fat; since each of the ‘one’ parts is no more than 1/60 of the rest of the mixture which is of a different flavor, its own flavor is nullified.

[1] “Food” pertains to anything edible, unless otherwise indicated.

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