Tuesday, January 14, 2014

chatzi shiur on bal yera'eh

The first Mishna in Beitzah has a machlokes Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel as to what the shiur is for chametz and se’or with respect to the issur of bal yera’eh u’bal yimatzeih.  Many Achorinim (e.g. Sha’agas Aryeh) ask what the whole debate is about.  Assuming chatzi shiur is assur m’doraysa (machlokes R’ Yochanan and Reish Lakish), then no matter how small the piece of chametz, there is an issur d’oraysa of keeping it around.  The usual nafka minah between having a shiur of issur vs. having a chatzi shiur is only with respect to malkos (there is no onesh on a chatzi shiur).  However, when it comes to bal yera’eh u’bal yimatzeih, that nafkah minah doesn’t apply.  Even on the full shiur there is no malkos, as the issur of bal yera’eh is a lav she’ain bo ma’aseh as well as a lav hanitak l’aseh (the mitzvah of tashbisu).    So l’mai nafka this machlokes with respect to the shiur? 

It could be that this is the clincher that proves (as many Achorinim hold) that the whole din of chatzi shiur only applies to issurei achila and not to other issurim.  We need to know what the shiur for bal yera’eh is because there is no din of chatzi shiur.

But many Achronim don’t hold that way.  So what how do you deal with this gemara?


  1. Wonderful question! I suspect with good thinking we will discover a variety of answers. Here are two suggestions:

    If you actively *violate* bal yera'eh there can be malkos, see Rambam chametz u-matza 1:3. So if you actively buy the chametz during Pesach you get malkos per Rambam, but only if you buy a minimum shiur.

    Another possibility: the old chakira about whether chatzi shiur extends the scope of the scope of the underlying issur, or rather is an "issur k'llali" (i.e. a generic prohibition, separate from the particular underlying issur). So there is at least a metaphysical nafka minah according to the issur k'lali side: if you possess a shiur you are violating an issur of bal yera'eh, but if less than a shiur then you are only violating a "generic" issur of chatzi shiur.

    1. You know that the shitas haRambam there is difficult, but you are relying on R' Chaim's hesber, so I can't argue.

      As for the second point, I don;t know what a metaphysical nafka minah is. You have to admit it is very strange to have a debate about such things in a gemara.

  2. Here is another possible nafka mina:

    According to Tosafos in shevuos 23b "d'muki lah", we are not considered mushba v'omed on a chatzi shiur -- even if chatzi shiur is assur min hatorah -- and therefore shevua can apply to violate a chatzi shiur, which is merely an "issur b'alma". (I saw this Tosafos discussed in one of Rav Moshe Taragin's VBM methodology shiurim on chatzi shiur, Rav Taragin was not addressing bal yera'eh or your question.) Therefore, if one takes an oath to purchase or not destroy a small amount of chametz, if the amount is a shiur we would say mushba v'omed, whereas if the amount is a chatzi shiur then we would not say mushba v'omed (per Tosafos) even though possessing such chametz is still an issur d'oraysa.

    The opinion of Tosafos probably makes most sense if chatzi shiur is a generic issur rather than an extension of the specific underlying issur, and so writes Rav Taragin. Perhaps that is exactly what Tosafos means by "issur b'alma". In that case, the "metaphysical" and practical nafka minas are linked. But really however you understand the reasoning of Tosafos, mushba v'omed is a nafka mina for possessing a chatzi shiur of chametz versus a full shiur.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. My previous comment was in error -- the question I posted makes no sense. Your answer works.

  3. Anonymous10:30 AM

    When we learned Beitza, Rav Sacks gave the following answer in shiur (It must be in his psachim book too) based on Rav Yosef Engel in Lekach Tov 8 who lists the syagim mideoraysa: Rav Yosef Engel there says from a PM"G chatzi shiur of grapes for a nazir is not assur min hatorah, because both chatzi shiur and grapes for nazir are syagim min hatorah, and when you have two syagim mideoraysa that intersect the result can't be an issur min hatorah. (I think RYE actually rejects this biur for a few reasons.)

    Rav Sacks added that according to the PMG, this may be the kol detikun rabbanan keayn deoraysa tikun of ain gozrin gzeira ligzeira.

    So Rav Sacks suggested that, according to the Ran (also listed by Rav Yosef Engel) bal yeraeh itself is a syag min hatorah of achilas chametz. Putting that together with chatzi shiur can not result in an issur min hatorah acc the PMG, so the machlokes BS/BH is on the shiur of bal yeraeh to be over min hatorah.

    R Daniel Z Feldman has an article on this Rav Yosef Engel in the sefer Ksones Yosef, hosafos mare mekomos, etc. kedarko,

    but the pdf i'm seeing is all messed up.

    1. One word: geshmack. Fantastic. (OK, it was two words).

    2. According to the Minchas Chinuch, this gufa is tolui in the machlokes beis Shamai and Bais Hillel, ayin shom (mitzvo 19).