1) "TA'AMO U'MAMASHO"
OPINIONS: Rebbi Yochanan states that eating a prohibited food item which retains its flavor ("Ta'amo") and its physical consistency ("Mamasho") is punishable with Malkus. He adds that Malkus is administered only when a k'Zayis of the food is eaten within a time span of "Kedei Achilas Peras" (see Background).
RASHI (DH Kol) explains that Rebbi Yochanan refers to a case in which prohibited food falls into permitted food, giving the mixture a proportion of one k'Zayis of prohibited food to every Peras (the volume of four eggs, or eight times the volume of a k'Zayis) of permitted food.
Rebbi Yochanan continues and says that if the prohibited item retains its taste but does not retain its original consistency, then it is forbidden to be eaten, but eating it is not punishable with Malkus.
According to Rebbi Yochanan, on what does the punishment of Malkus depend? Why is one punished with Malkus in the first case, but not in the second case?
(a) RASHI explains that when a person eats the entire, prohibited mixture within the amount of time that it normally takes a person to eat a Peras of food, he is punished with Malkus. This is because the person ate the entire, minimum amount of actual forbidden food for which one receives Malkus (i.e., a k'Zayis) within the amount of time for which the Torah obligates him.
Rashi (67b, DH Ta'amo) explains that the second case of Rebbi Yochanan is a case in which milk fell into a pot of meat, or forbidden fat (Chelev) fell into a pot of kosher meat and melted away (see beginning of TOSFOS to 67a, DH Amar Rebbi Yochanan). In both of these cases, the taste of the food remains, but the physical presence of the food is no longer apparent.
The fact that Rebbi Yochanan says that one does not receive Malkus for eating such a forbidden mixture shows that Rebbi Yochanan does not apply the principle of "Ta'am k'Ikar" (the taste of a forbidden item is like the actual, physical item). This is supported by Rava's statement in Chulin (98b) that the principle of "Ta'am k'Ikar" applies only in cases of Kodshim, but not in cases of mixtures of ordinary (Chulin) foods. Rashi in Chulin there (DH l'Ta'am k'Ikar) explains that Rebbi Yochanan here in Avodah Zarah is also of the opinion that the Ta'am is not "k'Ikar," which is apparent from his statement that any consumption of Isur in which the taste of the Isur remains but the physical presence is not apparent does not warrant Malkus. Although the Gemara in Pesachim (44a) seems to derive from verses that "Ta'am k'Ikar" is a Torah principle that applies to all prohibitions, Rashi learns that those sources are all Asmachtos and not actual Torah laws. This opinion is shared by the RAMBAN in Chulin (ibid.) and the RITVA here.
TOSFOS here (DH Amar Rebbi Yochanan) and the ROSH in Chulin (7:31) quote RABEINU TAM who refutes the argument of Rashi. He asks that in Nazir (37a), Rebbi Yochanan himself agrees with the view of Rebbi Akiva that Ta'am is "k'Ikar." He points out that the Gemara there asks a question which implies that "Ta'am k'Ikar" is a Torah principle and not merely a Din d'Rabanan based on an Asmachta. (See the Ritva here who refutes the proofs of Rabeinu Tam.)
(b) RABEINU TAM explains that Rebbi Yochanan refers only to cases of Min b'Mino (mixtures in which a forbidden item fell into a permitted item of the same type). When there is a k'Zayis of forbidden food which is clearly recognizable among the rest of the food, one who eats the mixture receives Malkus. In contrast, when the mixture involves Min b'she'Eino (a mixture of different types of foods), one who eats the mixture receives Malkus even if he does not actually eat a k'Zayis of the forbidden item; he receives Malkus as long as the taste of the forbidden item was present in the k'Zayis of the mixture that he ate. This is also the opinion of the RA'AVAD in ISUR MASHEHU (1:2).
(c) The ROSH in Chulin (7:31) quotes RABEINU CHAIM who says that Rebbi Yochanan is discussing a case in which a person eats even a k'Zayis of the entire mixture within the time frame of "Kedei Achilas Pras." The reason for this is that when a k'Zayis of forbidden food falls into permitted food, bringing the volume of the mixture to a Peras or less, one who eats the mixture in a normal manner would be eating the mixture within "Kedei Achilas Peras." This fact causes the entire mixture to be viewed as a prohibited food. Consequently, one who eats even a k'Zayis of the mixture is punished with Malkus. (Y. MONTROSE)
2) THE SOURCE FOR "NOSEN TA'AM LI'FEGAM"
QUESTION: Rebbi Meir and Rebbi Shimon disagree about whether "Nosen Ta'am li'Fegam" (an Isur that spoils the taste of the permitted food into which it falls) causes the mixture to become forbidden. Rebbi Meir says a mixture with "Nosen Ta'am li'Fegam" is prohibited, while Rebbi Shimon says that it remains permitted. The Gemara inquires as to the source of Rebbi Shimon's ruling. The Gemara quotes a Beraisa which derives Rebbi Shimon's ruling from the verse, "You shall not eat anything that dies by itself (Neveilah). You shall give it to the stranger who is in your gates, that he may eat it..." (Devarim 14:21). The Beraisa derives from this verse that whatever is fit for the consumption of the Ger Toshav is called Neveilah, and whatever is not fit for his consumption (that is, he would not eat such a thing) is not called Neveilah. This teaches that once an object of Neveilah has become rotten, it is no longer included in the prohibition of Neveilah.
It seems difficult to use this verse as the source that "Nosen Ta'am li'Fegam" is permitted. RASHI earlier (67a, DH Kol she'Einah) explains the Gemara's description of "Nosen Ta'am li'Fegam" as a prohibited food item which provides a taste which is not good for the mixture into which it falls, even though the food is still edible. Similarly, the Halachah is that any food absorbed in a pot which has not been used for twenty-four hours is called "Nosen Ta'am li'Fegam," and it is obvious that cooking permitted food in such a pot will not make the food taste so bad that it is inedible! How, then, can we derive that a food item which is fit to eat but which has a bad taste in it is permitted from the Beraisa's statement that a Neveilah which is no longer fit to eat at all is permitted? We are deriving a leniency that the Beraisa does not mention!
(a) The RAN explains that the reason why the Torah prohibits Neveilah as long as it is edible is that the person who eats it derives pleasure from the Isur, even though it is slightly spoiled. Once the Neveilah becomes entirely inedible, it is permitted to be eaten even though it was originally a forbidden piece of meat, since the person derives no pleasure from the Isur. Similarly, in the case of an Isur which gives a bad taste to a permitted food, the person who eats the food derives no pleasure at all from the Isur in the mixture, just as he derives no pleasure from a totally spoiled Neveilah.
(b) The RASHBA in TORAS HA'BAYIS (4:1) answers that the case of Neveilah that the Beraisa mentions refers only to a solid Isur and not to a mixture. In order for a prohibited item, such as Neveilah, to become permitted, it must become totally spoiled and inedible. However, with regard to a mixture, the determining factor is whether or not the mixture contains the taste of the Isur. To be considered present because of taste, the Isur must provide a good taste. If it does not provide a good taste, then it is considered to be ruining the mixture and it is not a "taste" which is forbidden.
The practical difference between the answer of the Ran and that of the Rashba (as discussed by the Ran) is a case in which there is an unidentifiable Isur in a mixture which increases the mass of the food substantially, yet detracts from the taste. According to the Ran, this mixture would be forbidden, since the person still benefits from the Isur in that he now has substantially more to eat. According to the Rashba, only an Isur which gives a good taste to the mixture can forbid a mixture of food; a forbidden item with a bad taste cannot forbid the mixture, regardless of how much the Isur increases the amount of the mixture.
The Ran originally presents this answer as well but rejects it. Even though the presence of an Isur in a mixture may be judged by the good taste that it gives, how is this derived from the verse regarding Neveilah, which teaches that the Neveilah must be entirely inedible in order to be permitted?
1. The CHAVOS DA'AS (YD 103:1) and RAV CHAIM SOLOVEITCHIK (Hilchos Ma'achalos Asuros 15:1) explain that the Halachah of "Nosen Ta'am li'Fegam" is actually learned from the Halachah of "Ta'am k'Ikar." The source of "Ta'am k'Ikar" (see Pesachim 44a-b) is the verse discussing Nazir which states, "v'Chol Mishras Anavim Lo Yishteh" -- "and he may not drink any liquid in which grapes were soaked" (Bamidbar 6:3)." This verse forbids a Nazir from drinking water which was turned into a type of grape drink by the soaking of grapes, even though it does not contain any grapes in it anymore and is not considered wine. From here the principle of "Ta'am k'Ikar" is derived (some maintain that this is only an Asmachta; see previous Insight). In this case, the water is improved by the soaking of the grapes, and therefore the Nazir may not drink it. Since this method is also how a food's taste is determined to be present in a mixture, it follows that only a real improvement would be considered a physical presence of Isur. The Rashba is merely explaining why the Halachah of Neveilah does not prohibit all cases of "Nosen Ta'am li'Fegam" which have only slightly detrimental tastes and are not entirely spoiled.
The KEHILOS YAKOV rejects this answer, because the Gemara here explicitly states that the source that "Nosen Ta'am li'Fegam" is permitted is the Halachah of Neveilah, and not the Halachah of "Ta'am k'Ikar."
2. The Kehilos Yakov explains that the Ran and the Rashba in fact are giving very similar answers. They both learn, as stated by the Ran, that the detracting taste is compared to the Neveilah. However, the Ran understands that we do not compare the taste alone to Neveilah, but rather we compare the entire physical makeup of the prohibited part of the mixture to Neveilah. The Rashba, on the other hand, understands that we compare only the taste of the Isur to Neveilah. Just as the absence of the pleasure of eating Neveilah renders it permitted, the absence of a positive taste of Isur fails to prohibit a mixture. Since only the taste determines the status of Isur in the mixture, the Rashba understands that even if the Isur substantially increases the quantity of food, the Isur is disregarded and does not prohibit the mixture. (Y. MONTROSE)