Dr. Joshua Kulp

About Dr. Joshua Kulp

Dr. Joshua Kulp, Rosh Yeshiva, is co-founder of the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem where he has taught Talmud and halakhah for the last 20 years. He is the author of the recently published book Reconstructing the Talmud (Mechon Hadar, 2014) as well as the The Schechter Haggadah: Art, History and Commentary (Schechter Press, 2008). Beginning in 2001 and continuing through 2013, Dr. Kulp authored a commentary in English on the entire Mishnah, which served as the basis for the Mishnah Yomit project. In 2013 Dr. Kulp began the Daf Shevui program, the study of one daf of Talmud per week and has so far completed a commentary on Tractates Sukkah and Megillah and has begun work on Tractate Ketubot. Dr. Kulp was raised in Margate, New Jersey, where his family was active in the Conservative Movement. He spent his summers at Camp Ramah in the Poconos, Camp Ramah in Canada and for the last ten summers, he has served as the scholar-in-residence at Camp Ramah in New England. Dr. Kulp made aliyah in 1994 and currently lives in Modiin with his wife, Julie Zuckerman, and their four children. In his spare time, he is an avid triathlete and runner and has completed three Ironmans.

Dr. Joshua Kulp

Avodah Zarah, Daf Samech Vav, Part 4

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Avodah Zarah, Daf Samech Vav, Part 4
Reading for Wednesday, September 19
Avodah Zarah 66-4

 

Introduction

In today’s section Abaye cites proof for his assertion that a substance is defined by its taste and not by its name.

 

אמר אביי מנא אמינא לה דבתר טעמא אזלינן דתניא תבלין ב’ וג’ שמות והן מין אחד או מין ג’ אסורין ומצטרפין

ואמר חזקיה הכא במיני מתיקה עסקינן הואיל וראוין למתק בהן את הקדירה

אי אמרת בשלמא בתר טעמא אזלינן כולי חד טעמא הוא אלא אי אמרת בתר שמא אזלינן האי שמא לחוד והאי שמא לחוד

Abaye said: From where do I declare that we follow the taste? As we have learned: Spices with two or three different names which belong to the same species, or three species, are prohibited and they join together; 

And Hezekiah said: We are dealing here with kinds of sweet things since they are fit for sweetening the pot.

Now if you should say that we follow the criterion of taste, they all have the same taste; but should you hold that we use the criterion of name, each of them has a different name!

 

Abaye uses a baraita that is explained by Hezekiah to prove that a substance is defined by its taste. If three different spices with different names that are all forbidden (for instance they are all orlah—produce during its first three years) fall into a pot and each one of them is not sufficient to impart taste but together they impart taste the dish is prohibited. This is because they all taste the same. The fact that they have different names does not matter.

 

ורבא אמר לך הא מני ר”מ היא דתניא רבי יהודה אומר משום רבי מאיר מנין לכל איסורין שבתורה שמצטרפין זה עם זה שנאמר (דברים יד, ג) לא תאכל כל תועבה כל שתיעבתי לך הרי הוא בבל תאכל

 

But Rava could say to you:   Whose teaching is this? It is R. Meir’s, as it has been taught: R. Judah says in the name of R. Meir: How do we know that all the prohibited things of the Torah may be combined together?  As it is stated, “You shall not eat any abominable thing” (Deuteronomy 14:3). Everything which I made abominable to you is included in the law of You shall not eat.

 

Rava says that this baraita follows R. Meir. Other sages do not hold that forbidden substances with different names join together because we follow the name, not the taste.

Avodah Zarah, Daf Samech Vav, Part 2

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Avodah Zarah, Daf Samech Vav, Part 2
Reading for Monday, September 17
Avodah Zarah 66-2

 

Introduction

According to Abaye if new wine falls on grapes, then even if there is the smallest amount, the grapes are prohibited. Today’s sugya contains a difficulty on Abaye from the mishnah.

 

תנן יין נסך שנפל ע”ג ענבים כו’ קס”ד חמרא חדתא בענבי מאי לאו בנ”ט לא במשהו

 

We learned: If yayin nesekh fell upon grapes etc. Now you should assume that this is new wine upon grapes. And are they not prohibited only if it imparts a flavor?

No, [they are prohibited] even in the smallest quantity.

 

The mishnah says that if the grapes are cracked, they are prohibited. The Talmud makes two assumptions: 1) this is new wine, which has the same taste as grapes; 2) the grapes are prohibited only if the wine imparts taste. This then rejects Abaye.

 

הא מדקתני סיפא זה הכלל כל שבהנאתו בנותן טעם אסור כל שאין בהנאתו בנותן טעם מותר מכלל דבנותן טעם עסקינן ואביי מתניתין בחמרא עתיקא בענבי

 

Since it teaches at the end [of the mishnah]: This is the general rule: whatever derives advantage [from yayin nesekh by its] imparting a flavor is prohibited, but whatever does not derive advantage [from yayin nesekh by its] imparting a flavor is permitted, it follows that we are dealing here with a case where it does impart a flavor.

Then what would Abaye [say]? Our Mishnah refers to old wine [which fell] upon grapes.

 

The problem with assuming that the grapes are prohibited even if a small amount of wine falls on them, is that the end of the mishnah clearly shows that the mishnah is referring to cases where the mixture is prohibited only if the prohibited substance imparts taste. Therefore, the mishnah does seem to be a difficulty on Abaye who prohibits the grapes even if a small amount of wine falls on them.

But, no worries, Abaye can resolve the mishnah by saying it refers to a case of old wine that falls on grapes. Since the old wine has a different taste, the grapes are prohibited only if one can taste the wine.

Avodah Zarah, Daf Samech Vav, Part 1

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Avodah Zarah, Daf Samech Vav, Part 1
Reading for Sunday, September 16
Avodah Zarah 66-1

 

Introduction

This week’s daf discusses the issue of forbidden foods falling into permitted foods and the question of whether this causes the permitted food to become prohibited.

 

חמרא עתיקא בענבי דברי הכל בנותן טעם

חמרא חדתא בענבי אביי אמר במשהו ורבא אמר בנותן טעם

Old wine [which falls] upon grapes, all agree that [they are prohibited, if] it imparts a flavor.

New wine [which falls] upon grapes, Abaye said that [they are prohibited] however small the quantity but Rava said that it must impart a flavor.

 

Old wine has a taste very different from grapes. Therefore when it falls on the grapes, all agree that the grapes are prohibited only if the wine imparts taste.

However, new wine will taste like grapes. Therefore there is a dispute about this issue—Abaye says that the grapes are prohibited even if there is only a very small amount of wine, whereas Rava says that for the grapes to be prohibited they must impart taste.

 

אביי אמר במשהו בתר טעמא אזלינן אידי ואידי חד טעמא הוא דהוה ליה מין במינו ומין במינו במשהו

 

Abaye said that [they are prohibited] however small the quantity. For we use the criterion of flavor, and since both [the wine and grapes] have the same flavor, it is a case of one species being mixed with the same species, and in such circumstances the mixture is prohibited even if there is the smallest quantity.

 

Abaye says that new wine mixing with grapes is a case of “one species being mixed with the same species,” since they both have the same taste. When two of the same species are mixed, the mixture is prohibited even if there is only the smallest amount of prohibited substance. After all, if they taste the same, how can one detect the presence of the forbidden substance.

 

ורבא אמר בנותן טעם בתר שמא אזלינן והאי שמא לחוד והאי שמא לחוד וה”ל מין בשאינו מינו ומין בשאינו מינו בנ”ט

 

But Rava said that it must impart a flavor. For we use the criterion of name; and since they each have a different name it is a case of one species [being mixed] with a different species, and in such circumstances the mixture is prohibited only if [the prohibited substance] imparts flavor.

 

Rava follows the name of the substance, not the taste. New wine has a different name from grapes and therefore for the wine to prohibit the grapes it would have to impart taste. Note that it would in reality be impossible to test for this because they have the same name. Therefore the only criteria would be to determine an actual amount of wine that needs to fall on the grapes. This is where the notion of 1/60th comes into play. If there is 60 times as much permitted substance, the mixture is permitted. But if less, it is prohibited.

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Avodah Zarah, Daf Samech Heh, Part 6

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Avodah Zarah, Daf Samech Heh, Part 6
Reading for Friday, September 14
Avodah Zarah 65-6

 

Introduction

Today’s section begins with a new mishnah which discusses yayin nesekh that falls on other food items.  The question is whether or not this causes the food to become prohibited.

 

מתני׳ יין נסך שנפל ע”ג ענבים ידיחן והן מותרות ואם היו מבוקעות אסורות נפל ע”ג תאנים או על גבי תמרים אם יש בהן בנותן טעם אסור

 

If yayin nesekh fell upon grapes, one may rinse them and they are permitted, but if they were split they are prohibited.

If it fell upon figs or upon dates, should there be in them [sufficient wine] to impart a flavor, they are prohibited.

 

If yayin nesekh falls upon grapes, the grapes may be washed and then they are permitted.  Since the yayin nesekh does not have any effect on the taste of the grapes, they are permitted.  If, however, the grapes were split open, then the wine could seep into them and effect their taste. In this case it is not possible to wash away the potential taste of the wine and therefore the grapes are forbidden.

 

ומעשה בביתוס בן זונן שהביא גרוגרות בספינה ונשתברה חבית של יין נסך ונפל על גביהן ושאל לחכמים והתירום

זה הכלל כל שבהנאתו בנותן טעם אסור כל שאין בהנאתו בנותן טעם מותר כגון חומץ שנפל ע”ג גריסין:

It happened with Boethus ben Zunin that he carried dried figs in a ship and a cask of yayin nesekh was broken and it fell upon them; and he consulted the Sages who declared them permitted.

This is the general rule: whatever derives advantage [from yayin nesekh by its] imparting a flavor is prohibited, but whatever does not derive advantage [from yayin nesekh by its] imparting a flavor is permitted, as, for example vinegar which fell upon split beans.

 

If yayin nesekh falls on other types of foods, such as dates or figs, the food becomes prohibited only if the wine improves the flavor of the food.  The mishnah mentions a story of a person who carried figs and yayin nesekh on a ship. When one of the casks of wine broke on the figs he asked the Sages if the figs were still permissible, and they permitted them.  Since the wine does not improve the flavor of the figs, the person has not derived benefit from the wine and therefore the figs are permitted.  This general rule, that the wine causes the food to be forbidden only if it imparts a good flavor, is stated specifically in the next lines of the mishnah. The mishnah concludes with an example of another situation in which the taste is not improved, when vinegar (which comes from wine) falls on split beans.

 

גמ׳ מעשה לסתור חסורי מיחסרא והכי קתני אם נותן טעם לפגם הוא מותר ומעשה נמי בביתוס בן זונן שהיה מביא גרוגרות בספינה ונשתברה חבית של יין נסך ונפל על גביהן ובא מעשה לפני חכמים והתירום

 

GEMARA. A story that contradicts [the rest of the mishnah!]

[The wording of the Mishnah] is defective and should read as follows: If [the wine] imparts a bad taste, it is permitted; and thus it happened with Boethus b. Zunin that he carried dried figs in a ship and a jug of yayin nesekh was broken and it fell upon them. The case came in front of the Sages who declared them permitted.

 

The Talmud feels that the story of Boethus contradicts the abstract halakhah that appeared before it. To remedy this they add in that the wine gave a bad taste to the figs. I think we knew that in the first place.

 

ההוא כרי דחיטי דנפל עליה חביתא דיין נסך שרייה רבא לזבוניה לעובדי כוכבים

איתיביה רבה בר ליואי לרבא בגד שאבד בו כלאים ה”ז לא ימכרנה לעובד כוכבים ולא יעשנה מרדעת לחמור אבל עושה אותו תכריכין למת מצוה לעובד כוכבים מ”ט לא דלמא אתי לזבוניה לישראל ה”נ אתי לזבוניה לישראל

הדר שרא למיטחינהו ולמפינהו ולזבונינהו לעובדי כוכבים שלא בפני ישראל

There was a heap of wheat onto which a jug of wine fell and Rava permitted it to be sold to non-Jews.

Rabbah b. Livai raised a difficulty against Rava: A garment into which mixed threads have been lost, he may not sell it to a non-Jew, nor may he make of it a pack-saddle for a donkey, but he may use it as shrouds for an unidentified dead boy.  

Why may he not [sell it] to a non-Jew? Lest he sell it to a Jew! So  too he might come to sell it to an Israelite?

Rava changed his mind and permitted [the Jew] to mill it, bake it and sell [the loaves] to a non-Jew not in the presence of an Israelite.

 

Rava allowed the Jew to sell the wheat to a non-Jew even though the wine could be tasted. Evidently, the Jew cannot eat the wheat but he can derive benefit from it.

But Rabbah b. Livai raises a difficulty. It will not be that noticeable that wine fell onto this wheat and if the non-Jew sells it back to a Jew, the Jew will eat prohibited food. We learn in a baraita that Jews must be concerned about such situations. If there is a piece of cloth into which “sha’atnez” has been placed, one may not sell it to a non-Jew lest he come to sell it to a Jew.

Rava accepts this difficulty and then modifies his opinion slightly. The Jew cannot sell this wheat straight to non-Jew out of fear that the non-Jew will sell it back to a Jew. He must first bake it into bread. Jews are not allowed to eat bread baked by non-Jews so there is no concern that a Jew will buy it back.

 

תנן יין נסך שנפל ע”ג ענבים ידיחן והן מותרות ואם היו מבוקעות אסורות מבוקעות אין שאין מבוקעות לא אמר רב פפא שאני חיטי הואיל ואגב צירייהו כמבוקעות דמיין

 

We learned: If yayin nesekh fell upon grapes, one may rinse them and they are permitted, but if they were split they are prohibited.

If they are split they are [prohibited], but if not split they are not!

Papa said: Wheat is different because of its slits it is as if it is split.

 

Although the wheat is not actually split like the grapes, since wheat grains naturally have a slit in them, they are always considered as if they are split.

Avodah Zarah, Daf Samech Heh, Part 5

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Avodah Zarah, Daf Samech Heh, Part 5
Reading for Thursday, September 13
Avodah Zarah 65-5

 

Introduction

Today’s sugya contains a story of R. Aha’s father who sold wine to gentiles and kept the jugs as payment.

 

אבוה דרב אחא בריה דרב איקא הוה שפיך להו חמרא לעובדי כוכבים ואזיל מעבר להו מעברא ויהבו ליה גולפי באגרא אתו אמרו ליה לאביי א”ל כי קא טרח בהתירא קא טרח

 

The father of R. Aha the son of R. Ika used to pour out wine for non-Jews and carry it across the ford for them, receiving from them the jars as payment.

They came and told the matter to Abaye who told them: When he labored he did so with what was permitted.

 

Aha’s father used to sell kosher wine to non-Jews in jugs. He would pour the wine into wine-skins that belonged to the non-Jews. He would then carry the wine-skins across the ford. His payment was keeping the jugs that held the wine before he sold it to the non-Jews. The question is does this count as transporting yayin nesekh?

Abaye allowed this because when he was carrying the wine it had not yet become yayin nesekh.

 

והא רוצה בקיומו דלא נצטרו זיקי

 

But did he not want the preservation of the [the wine] that the wine-skins should not split!

 

The Talmud raises a difficulty—doesn’t R. Aha’s father want the water-skins to be preserved. If they burst, then he will have to give them the jugs. Thus in a sense he is invested in the preservation of the wine.

דמתני בהדייהו

 

This refers to case where had made a prior condition with them.

 

Aha’s father made a condition with the non-Jews—he would keep the jugs even if the wine-skins split and the wine was lost. In other words, he was paid up front.

 

א”נ דמייתו פריסדקי בהדייהו

 

Alternatively, they brought barrels with them.

 

It might also be a case where the non-Jews brought barrels with him to hold the wine if the wine-skins should break.

 

והא קא מעבר להו מעברא דקא טרח באיסורא

 

But, [it was objected,] he carried them across the ford for them and consequently he labored with what was prohibited!

 

The Talmud raises another difficulty—once the wine is put into the non-Jew’s wineskins, the wine is prohibited. Now R. Aha’s father is being paid to ferry across yayin nesekh—this should be prohibited.

 

דא”ל למברויא מעיקרא א”נ דנקיטי ביה קיטרי:

 

It is case where he instructed the ferryman from the outset [to convey the buyers across].

Or [as an alternative explanation] they carried with them knots (as a signal to the ferryman).

 

Aha’s father would make a deal at the beginning of the week that he would pay the ferryman a lump sum and that the ferryman would not take a fee for carrying the individual non-Jews. Alternatively, he made some sort of sign with knots to signal the ferryman that the ferryman would not charge the gentiles. So he was not getting paid for the transport. I would note that all of these conditions seem to make it relatively unlikely that one would be allowed to engage in such a business transaction. R. Aha had the ability to get the ferryman to transport these people for free. But not everyone would have such power.

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