1) THE TASTE OF SEDIMENTS
QUESTION: The Gemara explains that according to the Chachamim, when one mixes wine sediments with water and later finds that the amount of water in the container is the same as the original amount, the beverage is exempt from Ma'aser. Since the amount of water in the mixture remained the same, the mixture has the status of water, and there is no obligation to separate Ma'aser from water. Rebbi Yehudah disagrees and states that Ma'aser must be separated from the beverage.
The ALIYOS D'RABEINU YONAH asks that the Chachamim's position seems difficult. A general rule with regard to mixtures states that when two different types of things are mixed up (Min b'she'Eino Mino), each entity is considered present in the mixture only when each entity's taste is discernible in the mixture (Nosen Ta'am). In the case of the Gemara here, even the Chachamim should consider the water to be wine. Despite the fact that the amount of water stayed the same, the sediments probably added some flavor to the water. Rabeinu Yonah says that one cannot suggest that this is a case of "Nosen Ta'am li'Fegam" (where the wine sediments spoil the taste of the water), in which case the wine would not be considered a Halachic "presence" in the mixture, because the person purposely put the water into the sediments. It must be that the wine sediments give a desirable taste to the water. Why, then, do the Chachamim say that it is considered water?
(a) The ALIYOS D'RABEINU YONAH quotes the RI who explains that the Gemara refers to sediments of Demai, produce from which Ma'aser may have been separated already. The Gemara in Chulin (6a) teaches that the Rabanan did not decree that one must separate Ma'aser from a mixture of Demai with another an entity which is not obligated in Ma'aser. However, in an ordinary wine-making process, in which the volume -- after the sediments are placed in the water -- is greater than the original amount of water, the mixture is not exempt from Ma'aser. Since this is the normal process of wine-making, the water is considered as though it becomes part of the sediments and is called wine, and not water mixed with a wine flavor.
(b) The Aliyos d'Rabeinu Yonah quotes others who explain that a mixture of water and wine is an exception to the rule of "Nosen Ta'am." Normally, "Nosen Ta'am" means that one entity imparts its taste to the other when it comprises at least one-sixtieth of the mixture. In the case of a mixture of water and wine, when there is one part wine and more than six parts water, the wine is considered "Nosen Ta'am li'Fegam," despite the fact that many people begin the wine-making process by pouring more than six parts water into the wine, and later they add more wine to make the mixture into wine. As long as more wine has not been added, the wine is considered "Nosen Ta'am li'Fegam." This is also the opinion of the TORAS HA'BAYIS HA'KATZAR (5:5). (See also IGROS MOSHE YD 3:19 and AVODAH BERURAH 73a, DH Yayin b'Mayim.) (Y. MONTROSE)
2) PUTTING WATER IN A "KOS SHEL BERACHAH" DESPITE THE FACT THAT IT NEEDS TO BE "CHAI"
QUESTION: The Gemara alludes to an argument between Rebbi Eliezer and the Rabanan with regard to wine, but it does not specify the details of the argument. TOSFOS (DH Modim) explains that the Gemara refers to a statement that Rebbi Eliezer made in Berachos (50b) that a person may not recite a Berachah on wine until he puts water into the wine. The Rabanan apparently argue with this statement and maintain that a person may recite a Berachah on wine even if he does not put water in the wine. However, Rebbi Yosi b'Rebbi Chanina says that the Rabanan agree with Rebbi Eliezer in the case of a Kos Shel Berachah, in which case one may not recite a Berachah until he puts water into the wine.
Tosfos (DH Ad she'Yiten) asks that this ruling seems to contradict a different Gemara in Berachos (51a). The Gemara there lists ten requirements of a Kos Shel Berachah. One of those requirements is that it Kos Shel Berachah must be "Chai," or undiluted. If a Kos Shel Berachah must be undiluted, why do the Rabanan say the opposite, that water must be poured into a Kos Shel Berachah?
(a) TOSFOS quotes the GEDOLEI NARVONA who explain that the word "Chai" does not refer to the wine, but rather to the cup. The cup used for the Kos Shel Berachah must be complete and not broken. This explanation is consistent with the Gemara's description of a broken Kli (Bava Kama 54a): "Shevirasan Zo Hi Misasan" -- "their breaking is their death." The opposite of a broken vessel, a vessel which is complete and intact, is called "Chai," or "alive." Tosfos supports this explanation by noting that the other requirements of a Kos Shel Berachah all indeed involve details of the cup, not the wine.
(b) RASHI in Berachos (51a, DH Chai) explains that "Chai" means that the raw wine should be poured into the Kos Shel Berachah first, and only afterwards should it be diluted with water.
(Tosfos points out that this excludes pouring the wine first into one cup, and then pouring it into the Kos Shel Berachah. It is not clear why Tosfos does not give the obvious cases of what Rashi's explanation of "Chai" excludes: pouring water into the Kos Shel Berachah first, and then pouring wine, or diluting the wine in one cup and then pouring it into the Kos Shel Berachah.)
(c) TOSFOS (DH Ad she'Yiten) understands that the Gemara in Berachos refers to wine which has been slightly diluted before the Berachah of "Nodeh Lecha," and more water is added for the blessing of "Nodeh Lecha" (Birkas ha'Aretz). This is what the Gemara means in Berachos (51a) when it says that "Rebbi added at Birkas ha'Aretz." (Rashi there explains those words differently. When the Gemara says that "Rebbi added at Birkas ha'Aretz," it means that he added wine to the cup at Birkas ha'Aretz.) (Y. MONTROSE)