Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Basar b'chalav and Kilayim: Why can't I add a drop of milk to my cholent?

In addition to athe nnouncement that it was the season to donate shekalim, rosh chodesh adar was the time bais din had to send out warnings about kilayim. The Bartenura explains that seed can contain a certain percentage of mixture, e.g. if one has wheat to plant and there is a few kernels of barley seed mixed in, that would not be a problem, provided it is below the threshold of 1/24. (The Yerushalmi yomi we just past this exact sugya.) The issur here is not planting kilayim, because one wishes to plant a wheat field and does not want the barley; however, to avoid mar'is ayin of any mixture, the chachamim set a cap on the impurity of the seed.
If one actually planted a field mixing different seed and violated the issur of kilayim, then it is not sufficient to pluck out a few of the mixed plants below a certain threshold, but the entire field becomes assur.
The Rishonim ask: why by the mixture of seed do I assume if the seed is below a certain percentage it is bateil, but if I intentionally create a mixture of seed and plant it in my field, the entire field becomes assur and we do not say the minority crop is bateil to the majority of the field?
The answer is that by other issurim, e.g. chazir, the Torah prohibited a k'zayis of the item; by definition, once that item is in a ta'aroves and is bateil, it not longer exists. By kilayim, by definition the issur is the mixture, not each individual item. In normal cases, bittul is a matir; by kilayim, bittul is the oseir.
If that is so, then it follows that bittul should never work by basar b'chalav, because there too, the issur is not the individual meat or milk, but the ta'aroves itself is the oseir. Why then is there a halacha of bittul b'rov by basar b'chalav?
The Ran answers that "derech bishul asra Torah". The reason that basar b'chalav is permitted if the % in a ta'aroves is negligable is not because of the normal din of bittul b'rov, but because cooking such a small amount is not called bishul.
My question: if so, why can't I intentionally put a drop of milk in my cholent? By other issurim, I would say "ain mevatlin issur l'chatchila", that bittul can only be used ex post facto after the ta'aroves happens, but by basar b'chalav, there is no halacha of bittul - there is just a din that defines the parameters of bishul and teaches me that cooking a little drop is not called cooking?!


  1. Anonymous3:37 PM

    My understanding of this is as follows.
    1) Bitul always exists in principle. The question is what is the shiur for bitul?
    2) ain mevatlin issur l'chatchila is always active.

    Shuirei bitul.
    A) If you have a mixture of davar issur (like pork) with heter then the shiur is rov a simple majority (Lets not get into Teruma etc. or issue associated with davar she bi minyan)

    B) If you start with 2 items both individually mutar and it is the mixture that is assur then different considerations determine the shiur of bitul. Rov is not longer the shiur in this case, as you pointed out. The reason is given by the Rishonim.

    For Kilayim of seeds - the consideration is mar'as ayin and the shiur is 1 to 24.

    For Shaatnez - I am not sure but I think it the shiur is a kol shehu, if I remember right.

    For Basar b'chalav - it is assur b'nosein taam. The shiur is 1 to 60. This is how I would understand the Ran. Derech Bishul means enough to give taste - one does not add ingredients in such small quatities that no taste is imparted. This is in contrast to shaatnez where the shiur is a kol shehu. He is coming to explain the difference in shiur between these 2 cases if you will. I don't think he is taking basar b'chalav completely out of the "torah" of bitul.

    So even according to the Ran, ain mevatlin issur l'chatchila is always active.
    In those cases where there is a shiur, it helps only b'de'eved not le'chatichila.

    In kilayim, if there happened to be too much of the minority seed in the mixture - one can not add more of the majority, one must pluck out the minority. And at least according to one authority, once you get started cleaning out the minority all must go.

  2. Good kasha, it's asked by the mefarshim, please remind me next week and ill give you the mareh mekomos.

    also, by nosein taam lifgam, acc to those that say it is not because of bitul.

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