In a previous post (in the context of bitul chameitz) we touched on the issue of kamus vs. eichus, quantity vs. quality, a chakira discussed in many places by the Rogatchover and R’ Yosef Engel. I would like to pose the same chakira with respect to the din of berya. The Mishna tells us that even though one normally does not get punished for eating a prohibited food ft the amount consumed is less than a k’zayis, if one consumes an entire insect, even though it is very small, one would get malkos. Since a bug is a whole complete entity, a berya, it is considered a significant enough act of eating to warrant punishment.
Is berya a shiur of kamus or eichus, quality of quantity? Is the chiddush of berya that a whole insect has the quality of being a whole living discrete entity and therefore significant, or is the chiddush that the quantity of living matter in a berya is significant enough to warrant punishment?
I think perhaps this is the issue behind the gemara’s question in the recent daf (Nazir 51b) whether one is chayav for eating a bug which has a part ripped off but can still live. If berya is a qualitative shiur, then the fact that the bug can live as-is proves it still has the quality of berya. But if berya is a quantity, then if the bug is missing any part, even an insignificant part, it lacks the necessary shiur.