1) MEAT SOLD TO A NOCHRI WHERE A MAJORITY OF "SHOCHTIM" ARE JEWS
QUESTIONS: The Gemara relates an incident in which a butcher told his acquaintance that had he been friendly towards him, he would have given him a fine piece of meat from a fattened ox yesterday. The acquaintance said that he indeed ate from the best part of the ox yesterday, which the butcher had sold to a Nochri, who had given him some of the meat. The butcher responded that he had fattened two oxen, one Kosher and one Tereifah, and it was the Tereifah one that he had sold to the Nochri.
Rebbi declared that just because a fool acted improperly by selling Tereifah meat to a Nochri storeowner (thereby causing another Jew to eat Tereifah meat), we do not prohibit everyone from buying meat from all of the Nochrim in the marketplace. RASHI (DH Anu) explains that since the majority of Shochtim in that place were Jewish, it was not logical to prohibit everyone from buying meat on that day from all of the Nochrim in the marketplace.
The Gemara points out that Rebbi is consistent with his own opinion that meat found in the hands of a Nochri in a place where Jewish Shochtim sell meat in the marketplace is permitted. Rashi (DH Basar) explains that since the Nochri certainly did not slaughter the animal, but rather he merely sells the meat as a businessman, we may assume that the meat is Kosher. Rashi (DH Mutar) adds that we are not concerned that the meat is from a Tereifah animal, because a Jew would not have sold a Tereifah animal to a Nochri in the marketplace.
The RASHBA infers from Rashi that one is permitted to buy meat from the Nochri only when he sells it in the marketplace. The Rashba questions this inference. Since the majority of Shochtim are Jews, even when the meat is found in the hands of a Nochri who is selling it in his home, it should be permitted, because we assume that all of the meat the Nochrim buy comes from the Jews, and we do not need to be concerned for the Mi'ut of Neveilos that the Nochrim slaughter at home. Why, then, does Rashi permit the meat only when the Nochri sells it in the marketplace?
ANSWER: The CHIDUSHEI CHASAM SOFER (DH Basar) answers this question based on the words of the RAN (33a of the pages of the Rif). The Ran explains that the incident involving the butcher who sold the Tereifah animal to a Nochri occurred in a place where the practice was not to sell a Tereifah animal to a Nochri. In such a place, one is permitted to buy meat from a Nochri, since the majority of Shochtim are Jews. Therefore, Rebbi said that the Shochet acted improperly, because he should not have sold the Tereifah to a Nochri, lest the Nochri resell it to a Jew.
The Chasam Sofer writes that in such a place, where one may not sell a Tereifah animal to a Nochri, what are the Jewish Shochtim to do with a Tereifah animal that they find in their herd? Are they supposed to suffer the full loss of the value of the animal? The Chasam Sofer asserts that the Jewish Shochtim may sell the Tereifah animals to Nochrim in private, for the purpose of domestic consumption, but they may not sell the Tereifah animals to commercial, Nochri meat dealers who sell meat in the marketplace. Accordingly, one is permitted to buy meat from Nochrim in the marketplace, because it may be assumed that there is no Tereifah meat there. One is prohibited to buy meat from the private homes of Nochrim outside of the marketplace, because the animal might be a Tereifah.
The Chasam Sofer points out that TOSFOS (DH Rebbi) supports this explanation. Tosfos explains Rebbi's ruling that meat found in the hands of a Nochri in the marketplace where Jewish Shochtim work is permitted. Tosfos writes that we are not concerned that a Nochri brought a Neveilah from his home to sell in the meat market, or that a Jewish Shochet sold a Tereifah to a Nochri for private consumption that the Nochri is now bringing to the market to sell. There is not sufficient reason to prohibit buying meat in the marketplace, because we follow the majority of meat sold there, and a majority of meat is bought from Jewish Shochtim and is Kosher.
It can be inferred from Tosfos that he, too, maintains that one is permitted to sell a Tereifah animal to a Nochri for private consumption. This is why Rashi maintains that one is permitted to buy meat only from a Nochri meat dealer in the marketplace, but not from a private Nochri. (D. BLOOM)
2) "ROV" AND "KAVU'A"
QUESTION: The Gemara teaches that when one bought a piece of meat from a store but does not know whether he bought the meat from a Kosher meat store or from a non-Kosher meat store, and there are nine Kosher stores and one non-Kosher store, the meat is prohibited. However, when he found a piece of meat outside of a store, the meat is permitted because we follow the majority (Rov). The principle of Rov resolves a doubt only with objects that "separate themselves" from a group. When the object is "Kavu'a" (established in its place), the Safek remains and each possibility is considered to be equally plausible.
What is the logic behind this ruling? The statistical probability in each case -- a case of Rov, when the objected became separated from the group, and a case of Kavu'a, when the object is still in its place -- is exactly the same in both cases.
ANSWER: HAGA'ON RAV YISRAEL ZEV GUSTMAN zt'l explained that the answer to this question depends on how the Safek is expressed. In a case of an object that separated from a group that contained objects of Isur and Heter, the Safek is expressed as the question, "From which of the objects in the group did this one separate?" If most of the objects in the group are Heter, then the object that separated from the group is permitted as well.
In contrast, when an object is found in its place, the Safek is expressed as the question, "Some of the objects here are Mutar and some are Asur. Is this particular object Mutar or is it Asur?" Since the question has only two sides (Mutar and Asur), it is considered to be an equally balanced Safek. (M. KORNFELD)
3) WHOLE LIMBS FOUND IN THE STREET
QUESTION: The Gemara quotes the Mishnah in Shekalim (7:3) that says that pieces of meat found in the street outside of Yerushalayim in a Jewish town is permitted, but whole limbs of animals found in such a town are prohibited.
The Gemara points out that the Mishnah cannot be discussing a case in which the finder saw a person drop the meat (and there is a doubt about whether the person was a Jew or Nochri), because if that is the case, then even whole limbs that are found in such a case should be permitted. However, the law is that limbs are prohibited only when no one saw them fall from the person who lost them.
RASHI (DH Nimtza b'Gevulin) explains that the Mishnah prohibits limbs because it is the normal manner for people to cut up Tereifah animals and discard them in the garbage heap in the street.
According to Rashi, what difference does it make if the finder saw the limbs drop from a person walking in the street, or if he simply found the limbs in the street? If, as Rashi says, we assume that they were discarded in a garbage heap, then in both cases they should be assumed to be Neveilos!
ANSWER: Meat that is found in the street but not in the garbage heap is permitted, whether it is a whole limb or a piece of meat, when most of the butchers in the town are Jewish. The Mishnah is discussing meat that was found in a garbage heap. A limb is prohibited because it is assumed that its owner intentionally brought it to the garbage heap to discard it there. Cuts are permitted because it is assumed that they fell from the owner into the garbage heap, without his knowledge. (This is because a person would never bother to cut up meat if the animal was Tereifah. Therefore, pieces of meat found in the garbage heap are assumed to be from a Kosher animal and not from a Tereifah animal, and thus they are permitted.)
When the finder saw the meat fall from the person who was carrying it, there is no question about whether the meat fell inadvertently or not. Hence, both whole limbs and cuts should be either permitted (when the meat fell inadvertently), or prohibited (when the meat was thrown into the garbage heap). Therefore, the Mishnah must be discussing a situation in which the finder did not see how the meat fell. (M. KORNFELD)
4) HALACHAH: "BASAR SHE'NIS'ALEM MIN HA'AYIN"
QUESTION: Rav rules that any meat that has left the supervision of a Jew becomes prohibited. RASHI (DH Nimtza) implies that the meat is prohibited because of the concern that perhaps passing ravens took the Kosher piece of meat and left a piece that is not Kosher.
According to Rashi's reasoning, does the prohibition of "Basar she'Nis'alem Min ha'Ayin" apply to meat left unsupervised in a town in which most or all of the meat is produced by Kosher butchers?
ANSWER: TOSFOS (DH Amar Rav) explains that the prohibition of "Basar she'Nis'alem Min ha'Ayin" applies even in such a town. Even though most or all of the meat in this town is produced by Kosher butchers, there still is a concern that perhaps the birds brought meat from outside of the town.
The RASHBA quotes the RA'AVAD who rules that, for this reason, in a town in which most or all of the meat is produced by Kosher butchers, when meat is found in a manner that clearly shows that it could not have been placed there by a bird, it is not prohibited as "Basar she'Nis'alem Min ha'Ayin." This is also the Halachah as recorded by the SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 63:2).
5) THE "NICHUSH" OF ELIEZER
QUESTION: Rav states that any form of divination (or interpretation of omens) which is not similar to the divination which Eliezer, the servant of Avraham, performed (when he wanted to determine who would be the proper wife for Yitzchak) is not considered divination. This implies that a form of Nichush that is similar to that of Eliezer is considered divination.
Since the Torah forbids performing Nichush, why was Eliezer permitted to perform Nichush when he was seeking a wife for Yitzchak?
(a) TOSFOS (95b, DH k'Eliezer) answers that Rav maintains that the prohibition against reliance on divination applies only to a Jew and not to a Nochri. Eliezer was a Nochri.
(b) According to those who maintain that the prohibition of Nichush applies to a Nochri as well, Tosfos suggests that Eliezer did not intend to rely on the omen that he had set. He intended merely that the omen serve as a starting point in choosing the proper bride for Yitzchak. He did not accept Rivkah as the bride until he reached her home, met her parents, and researched her lineage. This appears to be the opinion of the RAMBAM (Hilchos Avodah Zarah 11:4) as well.
(c) The RA'AVAD, however, strongly disagrees with the Rambam for implying that Eliezer practiced Nichush. He maintains that everything Eliezer did was entirely permissible.
The Ra'avad seems to understand the Gemara as the RADAK (Shmuel I 1:14) explains it. The Radak writes that the prohibition of Nichush applies only when one makes his actions dependent on an occurrence that is not related in any way to what he is doing (for example, he says that he will marry a certain woman if a chicken crosses his path). When he makes his actions dependent on an event that is related to what he plans to do, no prohibition of Nichush is involved. When the Gemara says that any form of Nichush that is not similar to that of Eliezer is not considered Nichush, it means that if one does not specify in advance that he intends for an occurrence to serve as a good or bad omen, then the occurrence is not an omen and does not portend anything.
According to this explanation, what does the Gemara mean when it suggests that Rav did not want to eat his relative's meat due to Nichush? The Gemara means that Rav interpreted the fact that everyone left the meat behind as a bad omen for the meat. According to the Radak, the Amora'im regularly looked out for such "good omens" ("Rav Badik b'Mavra").
6) "RAV BADIK B'MAVRA"
QUESTION: The Gemara relates that Rav would decide whether or not to go on a trip based on the sign of the ferry. RASHI (DH Badik) explains that if Rav found a ferry ready to travel, then he would travel, and if he found a ferry only with difficulty, then he would not travel. However, Rashi (DH Af Al Pi) writes that one is forbidden to conduct his actions based on the outcome of a Nichush. Why, then, was Rav permitted to decide whether or not to travel based on the Nichush of a ferry? (KESEF MISHNEH, Hilchos Avodah Zarah 11:5)
(a) The MAHARSHA explains that two conditions must be met in order for one's act of Nichush to be prohibited. First, the person must express his Nichush orally. Second, the person must mention both sides (for example, "If this happens, then I will do this act, and if it does not happen, then I will do the other act").
Rav did not verbalize his Nichush of the ferry, and thus he was permitted to rely on it. (This also might be the intention of the Kesef Mishneh, who writes that Rav did not really intend to rely absolutely on his Nichush.)
(b) According to the opinion of the RADAK (see previous Insight), Rav's action certainly was permitted. The Radak writes that the prohibition of Nichush applies only when one makes his actions dependent on an occurrence that is not related in any way to what he is doing (for example, he says that he will travel on the ferry if a chicken crosses his path). When he makes his actions dependent on an event that is related to what he plans to do, no prohibition of Nichush is involved.