1) WEARING CLOTHES OF NOCHRIM
OPINIONS: Rav Dimi related that on account of failure to observe the Halachah of washing with Mayim Rishonim before eating bread, a Jew was fed the meat of swine. RASHI (DH He'echilo) elaborates and explains based on an incident recorded in the Midrash Tanchuma that there was an innkeeper who would serve Kosher meat to his Jewish customers, and Neveilah meat to his Nochri customers. A Jew came in and did not wash his hands before eating bread, and thus the innkeeper assumed he was a Nochri and fed him pork (Chazir).
This incident clearly shows that serious repercussions result from failure to observe the enactments of the Chachamim. Can we also infer from this incident that acting like a Nochri in other ways, such as by dressing like a Nochri, is also prohibited, for it might lead to such terrible consequences?
(a) The MAHARIK derives from this incident that it is not prohibited to wear clothing of a Nochri. Had it been prohibited for a Jew to dress like a Nochri, the innkeeper would have been able to identify the customer as a Jew from the clothes he was wearing. It must be that the Jews and Nochrim dressed alike, and that is why the innkeeper identified the customer only by his conduct with regard to washing before eating bread.
(b) The SHACH (YD 178:4) quotes his father who disagrees with the Maharik. The Midrash mentions that this incident occurred at a time of "Shemad," when the Roman authorities were persecuting the Jews and prohibiting them from observing the Torah. At such a time, it is permissible for a Jew not to wear Jewish clothes in order to avoid being identified and persecuted. This is why the Jew's clothing did not serve as an indicator of his identity.
The VILNA GA'ON (Bi'ur ha'Gra YD 178:7) explains that only clothes that are unique to Nochrim are prohibited for a Jew to wear. The Maharik's proof, therefore, is not valid, because the Jew might have been wearing clothes that both Jews and Nochrim wear, and thus his identity could not be determined on the basis of his clothing. (Z. Wainstein)
2) THE SEVERITY OF EATING "CHAZIR"
QUESTION: Rav Dimi related that on account of failure to observe the Halachah of washing with Mayim Rishonim before eating bread, a Jew was fed the meat of swine (the one serving him assumed that he was a Nochri). Another man divorced his wife as a result of not washing with Mayim Acharonim after a meal (for this enabled another man to see what the husband had eaten, and to trick his wife at night).
Ravin related the two incidents with slightly different details. The man who did not wash before eating bread was fed Neveilah (and not Chazir), while the man who did not wash with Mayim Acharonim killed his wife (and did not divorce her).
Rebbi Aba learned that the more severe consequence occurred in each incident. The man who did not wash before bread was fed the more severe Isur, which RASHI (DH Chada) explains is Chazir, and the man who did not wash with Mayim Acharonim killed his wife.
Why is the Isur of eating Chazir considered more severe than the Isur of eating Neveilah? Rashi explains that eating Chazir is more severe because it constitutes two Isurim: the Isur of eating a Behemah Teme'ah (a non-Kosher animal), and the Isur of eating Neveilah (an animal that was not slaughtered with Shechitah).
How can one transgress two Isurim by eating Chazir? The principle of "Ein Isur Chal Al Isur" states that one Isur cannot take effect when another Isur already prohibits the item.
ANSWER: The Gemara in Yevamos (33b) teaches that although "an Isur cannot take effect on a [pre-existing] Isur," the second Isur does take effect with regard to making it a stronger prohibition. (Even though one will not receive Malkus for the second Isur if he transgresses, he will be liable "l'Kovro Bein Resha'im Gemurim," for the sake of burying him among Resha'im Gemurim.) Accordingly, eating Chazir involves both the Isur of Behemah Teme'ah and the Isur of Neveilah, and thus it is more severe than eating Neveilah alone. (M. KORNFELD)
3) DOING BUSINESS WITH FORBIDDEN FOOD
QUESTION: Rav Dimi related that on account of failure to observe the Halachah of washing with Mayim Rishonim before eating bread, a Jew was fed the meat of swine. RASHI (DH He'echilo) explains that there was an innkeeper who would serve Kosher meat to his Jewish customers, and Neveilah meat to his Nochri customers. A Jew came in and did not wash his hands before eating bread, and thus the innkeeper assumed he was a Nochri and fed him pork (Chazir).
How could it be that the innkeeper sold Neveilah and Chazir? The Halachah clearly forbids conducting business with any food that the Torah prohibits one from eating (SHULCHAN ARUCH YD 117:1)!
(a) The MAHARASHA explains that perhaps Rashi is addressing this question. Rashi explains that the innkeeper normally fed Neveilah to his Nochri customers, and when he mistakenly assumed that the Jew who did not wash his hands was a Nochri, he fed him Chazir. Why does Rashi first mention Neveilah, and then mention Chazir?
The Halachah is that when a Jew happens to receive a forbidden food from a Nochri as payment for a debt, or when a Jew happens to catch a forbidden animal when he was attempting to catch a permitted animal, he is allowed to sell the forbidden food or animal to a Nochri. Accordingly, it is clear that the Nochrim who came to the innkeeper's restaurant were not accustomed to buying pork there, because he certainly did not have such meat available to sell often. However, it could be that he did have Neveilos or Tereifos often, since his own animals would occasionally be found to be Tereifos, or they would die without a proper Shechitah and become Neveilos. These animals were the ones that he sold to his Nochri customers, which he was permitted to do since it was considered as having chanced upon them without deliberately seeking them.
On one occasion he happened to acquire Chazir (a Nochri may have given it to him as repayment for a debt), and he gave it to the person who did not wash his hands.
(b) The MORDECHAI in Pesachim (beginning of second chapter) cites RABEINU AVI HA'EZRI who adduces proof from this incident that one indeed is permitted to do business with forbidden food (unlike the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch).
(c) The BEIS YOSEF (end of YD 117) disagrees with Rabeinu Avi ha'Ezri cited by the Mordechai. The Beis Yosef explains that the innkeeper in the incident was not an upright Jew, but a Rasha who did business with forbidden foods against the Halachah.
The BIGDEI YEHUDAH on the Mordechai challenges the Beis Yosef's explanation, because we see that the innkeeper was particular to give Kosher meat to Jews, which demonstrates that he was not a Rasha. However, it seems that the position of the Beis Yosef can be justified. Perhaps the innkeeper -- while not an absolute Rasha who would feed non-Kosher meat to Jews -- was suspected of transgressing the less severe prohibition of doing business with forbidden foods. The Beis Yosef considers one who transgresses this Halachah to be a Rasha even though the person is not suspected of feeding non-Kosher meat to other Jews. (D. BLOOM)
4) HALACHAH: WASHING ONE'S HANDS BEFORE EATING FRUIT
QUESTION: The Amora'im disagree about the requirement to wash one's hands before eating fruit. Rebbi Elazar in the name of Rebbi Oshiya says that the requirement to wash one's hands for fruit is only for the sake of cleanliness. Rava explains that it is not an obligation ("Chovah") nor even a preferable practice ("Mitzvah"), but rather it is an optional practice ("Reshus"). Rav Nachman maintains that not only is washing for fruit not optional, it is not permitted, because washing the hands for fruit is a sign of haughtiness. RASHI explains that since it is forbidden to act in a haughty manner, one may not wash his hands before eating fruit.
Does the Halachah follow Rava or Rav Nachman?
ANSWER: The Halachah follows the view of Rav Nachman who says that it is prohibited to wash one's hands before eating fruit (SHULCHAN ARUCH OC 158:5). However, this prohibition applies only when the fruit is dry. When the fruit is wet, one indeed is obligated to wash his hands before eating it. The Gemara in Pesachim (115a) teaches (also in the name of Rebbi Elazar in the name of Rebbi Oshiya) that one must wash his hands before eating any food that is dipped in a liquid. The difference between dry fruit and wet fruit is as follows. When the fruit is dry, one's dry hands cannot make the fruit (which is Chulin) become Tamei. Chulin can become Tamei only with Sheni l'Tum'ah (and not Shelishi), and a Sheni l'Tum'ah (the hands) cannot cause something else (such as the fruit) to become a Sheni l'Tum'ah. However, when the fruit is wet, the liquid becomes a Rishon l'Tum'ah when touched by unwashed hands, and a Rishon l'Tum'ah can make the fruit become a Sheni l'Tum'ah. Therefore, one must wash his hands before eating wet fruit. (See MISHNAH BERURAH OC 158:11.)
The REMA (OC 158:5) points out that even when the fruit is dry, the prohibition applies only to washing the hands for the sake of fulfilling an obligation to wash for fruit (like one washes for bread). If one's hands are dirty, he may wash his hands in order to clean them before he eats the fruit.
The MAGEN AVRAHAM (OC 158:8) quotes the LECHEM CHAMUDOS who says that the common practice is not to wash one's hands before eating wet fruit. He says that this practice is supported by TOSFOS in Pesachim (115a, end of DH Kol she'Tivulo), who writes that nowadays we are not careful to avoid eating foods that have become Tamei, and thus we do not need to wash our hands before eating wet fruit.
However, the MISHNAH BERURAH (OC 158:20) writes that most authorities disagree with the Lechem Chamudos and require washing the hands before eating wet fruit. (The VILNA GA'ON even requires doing so with a Berachah of "Al Netilas Yadayim.") The Mishnah Berurah concludes, therefore, that one should wash his hands before eating a wet fruit, but he should not recite a Berachah.
5) HALACHAH: "AD HA'PEREK"
OPINIONS: The Gemara (end of 106a) quotes a Beraisa that discusses how much of the hand must be washed for the various requirements of washing. The Beraisa says that for Chulin, one must wash "Ad ha'Perek," until the joint. For Terumah, one must wash "Ad ha'Perek." When the Kohen washes his hands in the Beis ha'Mikdash before he performs the Avodah, he must wash "Ad ha'Perek."
What does "Ad ha'Perek" mean in each of these cases?
(a) RASHI (DH Ad ha'Perek, #1) explains that with regard to washing for Chulin, "Ad ha'Perek" means that one must wash until the middle joint of the finger (the second knuckle from the end of the finger).
For Terumah, Rashi (DH l'Terumah) explains that "Ad ha'Perek" refers to the joint where the finger connects to the hand.
For Kidush Yadayim in the Beis ha'Mikdash, Rashi (DH Ad ha'Perek, #2) explains that "Ad ha'Perek" refers to the wrist joint, where the hand connects to the arm.
(b) TOSFOS (106a, DH u'Shema) quotes RABEINU AVRAHAM who explains that for Chulin, "Ad ha'Perek" means that one must wash until the joint where the finger connects to the hand.
For Terumah, "Ad ha'Perek" refers to the wrist joint, where the hand connects to the arm.
For Kidush Yadayim, "Ad ha'Perek" refers to the elbow.
(Tosfos himself disagrees with Rabeinu Avraham's explanation.)
(c) The ROSH (8:11) explains that, according to the RIF, "Ad ha'Perek" means the same thing for all three. For Chulin, Terumah, and Kidush Yadayim, one must wash the entire hand until the wrist joint, where the hand connects to the arm.
HALACHAH: When describing how one should wash before eating bread (of Chulin), the SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 161:4) first quotes the opinion of the Rif that one should wash until the wrist joint. He then writes that there is another opinion (that of Rabeinu Avraham in Tosfos) that maintains that it suffices to wash until the joint where the finger connects to the hand. He concludes that it is proper to follow the first opinion. The BI'UR HALACHAH adds that not only is it proper l'Chatchilah, but according to many Rishonim it is obligatory to wash until the wrist joint. (Z. Wainstein)