Monday, December 04, 2006

Daf Yomi - Beitza 38 - Highlights # 3


The Mishna ruled that if a woman borrowed from her friend water and salt for her dough, the dough becomes limited to the techum mutual to both of them.

Rabbi Abba went from Bavel to Eretz Yisroel and prayed that Hashem should help that he will say something that the Chachamim of Eretz Yisroel will accept.

When he arrived there, a group of Amoraim was discussing the aforementioned Mishna and questioned its ruling. The water and the salt are the minority in this mixture and the flour is the majority. Why don’t we say that the water and the salt should become nullified in the dough and only the techum of the flour should apply?

Rabbi Abba offered the following answer: If one kav of wheat belonging to Reuven would become mixed with ten kavin of Shimon’s wheat, would Shimon be permitted to eat the entire mixture and be joyful that he obtained an extra kav? It is evident that this is not the case. Nullification applies in instances of issur and heter, not to financial matters. The ownership of the salt and water cannot be nullified. Boundaries for a techum are determined at the commencement of Yom Tov and at that time the salt and the water belonged to the lender and that cannot be negated.
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The scholars laughed at Rabbi Abba for this explanation.

Rabbi Oshaya justified the scholars’ laughter, stating that Rabbi Abba’s logic is flawed. Rabbi Abba did not mention a case where a kav of wheat became mixed with barley since he would certainly agree that when there are two types of grain, the wheat would become nullified even pertaining to the ownership of the wheat. While it is true that Rabbi Yehuda does not allow nullification when the grains are the same type, the Chachamim do allow it and therefore the wheat will become nullified even pertaining to the ownership.

Rav Safra defended Rabbi Abba’s position by citing Rav who rules regarding someone who picks pebbles from the wheat in his friend’s granary. The one that picked the pebbles must reimburse the seller the worth of the extra wheat that he received equal to the volume of the pebbles that he removed. It is evident that even items that are insignificant, such as pebbles maintain their status as property of the seller. This was Rabbi Abba’s analogy to the salt and water that although they are seemingly insignificant, they nonetheless are still regarded as belonging to the original owner and the techum boundary of the dough must be established by determining the owner of the flour, salt and water.

Abaye asked Rav Safra that there should be a basic distinction between the salt and the pebbles. The pebbles, although worthless, represent value to the owner of the wheat since otherwise he would have to replace the volume of the pebbles with wheat. The salt and water were lent prior to Yom Tov and the owner has no financial interest in owning them. Therefore, it can be stated that the salt and water should be nullified and the pebbles should not.

Rav Safra countered that Abaye’s distinction cannot apply in regards to the laws of techumin. He proves this by citing Rabbi Yochanan ben Nuri who rules that even an ownerless item has a techum boundary and cannot be moved more than 2,000 amos away from its original location on Shabbos. It is clear that even if the original owner has no financial interest in the water and salt, they will still have their independent techum boundary, just like an ownerless item.

Abaye concludes his argument by stating that the laws of techumin cannot be compared to the case of the pebbles. The pebbles are solely a financial issue and the principle of nullification does not apply. Techumin, however, is a prohibition and the prohibition is not necessarily connected to the ownership of the items. The prohibition stemming from the salt and the water can be nullified and thus the original question remains intact. (38a – 38b)

The Gemora offers three different answers to the original question.

Abaye answers that the Rabbis were concerned that if they would disregard the boundaries originating from the salt and water, people might mistakenly disregard the owner of the salt and water when two women are making dough together as partners. Obviously in a case of partners, we cannot nullify the prohibitions stemming from the salt and water because they are partners.

Rava adds that the spices cannot be nullified in a pot of cooked food since the spices are added to provide taste and taste can never become nullified in a mixture.

Rav Ashi answers that the principle of nullification cannot apply in this case because it is an object that will become permitted eventually (after Shabbos or Yom Tov) and forbidden objects that will become permitted after time do not become nullified. (38b – 39a)