1) A GOAT ROASTED WITH ITS FORBIDDEN FATS
QUESTION: Rav Huna (end of 96b) rules that a kid roasted with its forbidden fats is prohibited, and even the parts of the kid that have no Chelev are forbidden. Such a case was brought before Rebbi Yochanan and he permitted the parts of the kid that have no Chelev, because "it was weak (Kachush)." Why should weakness permit the kid to be eaten?
(a) TOSFOS (DH ha'Hu) first answers that the Chelev was weak (or thin), and such Chelev does not spread to the rest of the animal when it is roasted.
(b) Tosfos answers further that the kid was lean, and thus it had very little fat. Its fat was Batel b'Shishim to its meat. (Z. Wainstein)
HALACHAH: The REMA (YD 105:4) rules that today we are not experts in what is considered "Kachush" and what is not, and therefore the entire item is treated as forbidden fat.
2) DO DIFFERENT TYPES OF FISH HAVE DIFFERENT TASTES?
QUESTION: The Gemara teaches that although, in general, a forbidden food that was roasted with a permitted food imparts its taste only to a "Kedei Kelipah" (the thickness of one layer that can be peeled away from the permitted food), and it does not impart its taste to an amount sixty times its size, a forbidden fatty substance, such as Chelev, does spread even when roasted and it makes everything around it forbidden (unless there is sixty times more Heter than Isur in the pot).
The Gemara challenges this principle based on a case of a young goat that was roasted with its forbidden fats. Rebbi Yochanan ruled that only the "Kedei Kelipah" around the Chelev is forbidden; the rest of the goat may be eaten. The Gemara answers that it was "Kachush" (see previous Insight), and that is why the Chelev did not spread to the other parts of the goat.
Rav Huna bar Yehudah (see following Insight) explained that the case brought to Rebbi Yochanan was a kidney that was roasted with its fats. Ravin bar Rav Ada explained that it was a non-Kosher fish ("Kilchis") that was cooked in a pot of meat, and Rebbi Yochanan told them to have a Nochri-cook taste it. If the Nochri would discern the taste of the forbidden fish in the pot of food, then it would be Asur.
RASHI (DH b'Ilfas) writes that the pot in which the Kilchis was cooked contained meat. Why does Rashi explain that the case involves a forbidden fish that became mixed with meat? Rashi should say simply that the Kilchis fell into a pot with Kosher fish!
ANSWER: The BEIS MEIR (to SHACH YD 107:1) answers that Rashi's intention is to resolve a question (discussed by the Shach there). Do Kosher fish and non-Kosher fish have the same taste? Rashi is teaching that they have the same taste. Since Rebbi Yochanan ruled that the food must be given to a Nochri in order to discern whether or not the taste of the forbidden fish is present, it must be that the Kilchis fell into a pot of meat. If it would have fallen into a pot of Kosher fish, then it would not have been possible to discern any difference in taste between the Kosher fish and the Kilchis.
REBBI AKIVA EIGER praises the explanation of the Beis Meir. He describes it with the verse, "The words of the mouth of the wise are graceful" (Koheles 10:12).
(The Beis Meir adds that we cannot explain Rashi's words by saying that the factor that determines that two foods are the same Min is not whether they have the same taste, but whether they have the same name ("Shem"), which is the view of Rava in Avodah Zarah (66a), because Rebbi Yochanan himself maintains that Min b'Mino is determined by whether the Isur gives a taste to the Heter. Therefore, if a Kosher fish and non-Kosher fish would have different tastes, then even though they have the same name ("fish"), Rebbi Yochanan would have ruled that the mixture be given to a Nochri to taste, and Rashi would not have been forced to write that the pot contained meat. It must be that Kosher fish and non-Kosher fish are considered to have the same taste, and that is why Rashi explains that the pot contained meat.) (D. BLOOM)
3) THE CASE IN WHICH REBBI YOCHANAN RULED
QUESTION: A case involving a young goat that was roasted with its forbidden fats was brought before Rebbi Yochanan, who permitted eating the parts of the kid that have no Chelev. The Gemara says that it was a lean kid, and that is why the Chelev did not spread to the other parts (see previous Insight). Rav Huna bar Yehudah explained that "it was a kidney that was roasted with its fats, and he permitted it." Ravin bar Rav Ada said, "It was a non-Kosher fish that was cooked in a pot of meat, and Rebbi Yochanan told them to have a Nochri-cook taste it."
The Gemara seems to offer different explanations for why Rebbi Yochanan permitted the goat. Rav Huna and Ravin maintain that the case that was brought before Rebbi Yochanan did not involve a goat at all.
How can the Amora'im argue about the most basic details of the case? Even if Rebbi Yochanan once dealt with cases involving a kidney or a fish, it is not reasonable to suggest that the details became confused and the Gemara thought that he ruled in a case involving a goat. Moreover, it is possible that both incidents occurred.
ANSWER: It seems that the Amora'im are not offering different answers for how Rebbi Yochanan once permitted a mixture cooked with prohibited food. Rather, the two cases mentioned by Rav Huna and Ravin are not related to the discussion of the goat at all. After sufficiently answering why Rebbi Yochanan permitted the goat, the Gemara relates two other cases in which Rebbi Yochanan found a way to permit something which we would have thought is prohibited (see RITVA). (M. KORNFELD)
4) HALACHAH: "TE'IMAS KEFEILA"
QUESTION: Rebbi Yochanan rules that when a prohibited food falls into a pot of permitted food (or when milk becomes mixed with meat), one may rely on a Nochri to taste the dish and inform him whether or not the taste of the prohibited food is present in the mixture.
On what basis may one trust the information provided by a Nochri? The Gemara in Bava Kama (114b) states that a Nochri is not believed with regard to an Isur d'Oraisa! (See also Tehilim 144:8.)
(a) RASHI (DH li'Ta'amei) explains that one does not ask the Nochri directly whether or not he tastes the prohibited item in the mixture. Rather, when the Nochri mentions it in passing ("Mesi'ach l'Fi Tumo") one may rely on his word, since there is no reason to suspect him of trying to mislead anyone.
(b) TOSFOS (DH Samchinan) explains that one asks a professional who will not risk ruining his reputation and losing his livelihood by lying.
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 98:1) rules that when milk becomes mixed with meat, we may give the mixture to a Nochri to taste. However, we must give it to him in a way that does not indicate to him that we are relying on his word (as Rashi explains). The SHACH adds that this applies only when we are asking an ordinary Nochri to taste the food. When we ask an expert, we may rely on his word even when he knows that we are relying on him, because he will not risk ruining his reputation (as Tosfos explains).
The REMA disagrees and rules that nowadays we may not rely on the taste-test of a Nochri. The KAF HA'CHAYIM writes that this is also the practice of the Sefardim today. The SHACH (YD 98:5) explains that this is not because it is impossible to correctly measure the taste that was absorbed. Rather, it is because we do not trust the word of a Nochri. A Jew, however may be trusted to taste a mixture. Therefore, in a case of a permitted mixture, such as when Terumah fell into Chulin, we may rely on a Kohen to taste the mixture and relate whether or not the taste of Terumah is discernible in the mixture.
The CHOCHMAS ADAM in the name of the KEREISI U'PLEISI writes that to be stringent we may rely on the word of a Nochri. That is, if the Heter in the mixture is sixty times greater than the Isur, and yet a Nochri tastes the food and says that he can discern the taste of the Isur, we follow his word in order to be stringent and we do not eat the food. However, the PRI MEGADIM (Sifsei Da'as 98:4, Mishbetzos Zahav 98:7) disagrees and says that even l'Chumra we do not rely on the word of the Nochri.
5) HALACHAH: "MIN B'MINO"
OPINIONS: The Gemara teaches that in a case of a mixture of "Min b'Mino," where both the prohibited item and the permitted item have the same taste, we must assess whether the Isur is less than one-sixtieth of the entire mixture in order to permit the mixture. This ruling follows the opinion of the Chachamim who argue with Rebbi Yehudah and maintain that Bitul applies to a mixture of Min b'Mino. Is this indeed the Halachah?
(a) RASHI later (109a, DH v'Su) rules like Rebbi Yehudah, who maintains that there is no Bitul for Min b'Mino. The forbidden food prohibits the entire mixture.
(b) TOSFOS (DH Amar) disagrees with Rashi and rules that Min b'Mino does become Batul, as the Sugya here clearly concludes. Rashi himself in Avodah Zarah (66a) rules this way as well.
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 98:2) rules that when a prohibited food becomes mixed with a permitted food of the same type (Min b'Mino), the Isur is annulled if there is sixty times more Heter in the mixture. (Z. Wainstein)
6) INCLUDING THE POT IN THE ASSESSMENT OF "SHISHIM"
QUESTION: Rebbi Chanina rules that when assessing whether there is sixty times more permitted food than prohibited food in a mixture, we take into account all of the gravy, congealed fat, pieces of meat, and the pot itself.
TOSFOS (DH Ika d'Amrei) asks that this implies that if the walls of the pot are fifty k'Zeisim, for example, and there are ten k'Zeisim of water in the pot, and one k'Zayis of Chelev fell into the pot, then the water should be permitted. It is not reasonable to permit such a mixture, however, because in such a case the water (which is only ten times, and not sixty times, the quantity of the Chelev) certainly has the taste of Chelev!
ANSWER: TOSFOS explains that the Gemara is not discussing a situation in which a piece of Chelev falls into Heter in the pot. Rather, a k'Zayis of Chelev was absorbed in the pot after permitted food was cooked in the pot. When permitted food is cooked in the pot again (alone, without any Isur), we take into account the particles absorbed into the walls of the pot during the first cooking of Heter in order to reach the amount of Shishim and annul the taste of Chelev that is absorbed in the walls of the pot. (Z. Wainstein)
7) HALACHAH: CALCULATING "SHISHIM"
QUESTION: The Gemara teaches that in a case of a mixture of "Min b'Mino," where both the prohibited item and the permitted item have the same taste, we must assess whether the Isur is less than one sixtieth of the entire mixture in order to permit the mixture.
The SHACH (YD 93:1) writes that when one cooks permitted food in a pot in which Isur was cooked previously, the permitted food becomes prohibited, because the volume of a pot normally does not contain sixty times more than the volume of the walls of the pot, unless the walls of the pot are very thin, or the pot is very wide.
Is there a simple way to calculate whether a pot (with a cylindrical shape and of a uniform thickness) holds more than sixty times the volume of the walls of the pot?
ANSWER: The following is a basic equation for calculating whether the volume of a pot is sixty times more than the absorption of its walls:
Let r = the radius of the pot, t = its thickness, and h = its height.
The volume of the water in the pot (if the pot is full of water until the very top) is (pi)(r^2)(h), or pi times the radius-squared times the height.
The volume of the pot is (pi)(r^2)(t) + 2(pi)(r)(h)(t), or pi times the radius-squared times the thickness (this represents the base of the pot) plus two times pi times the radius times the height times the thickness (this represents the volume of the sides of the pot).
Therefore, when (r)(h) > (60)(t)(2h + r), the contents of the pot are permitted. (Thanks to Rav David Koenig and Rav Sruly Safran for preparing this calculation.)