Avodah Zarah, Chapter Four, Mishnah Nine

 

Introduction

This mishnah discusses what actions a Jew may or may not do to help a non-Jew in the winemaking process.  The second and third sections of the mishnah discuss helping ritually impure winemakers and bakers.  These sections are only brought into our tractate due to their similarity to the halakhah in section one.

 

Mishnah Nine

1)                     A Jew may tread the winepress together with a non-Jew but may not pick grapes with him. 

2)                     If an israelite was working in a state of ritual impurity, one may neither tread nor pick with him, but one may move [empty] casks with him to the press and carry them [filled] with him from the press.

3)                     If a baker was working in a state of ritual impurity, one may neither knead nor roll dough with him but we may carry loaves with him to the bakery.

 

Explanation

Section one:  A Jew is allowed to tread grapes in a winepress with a non-Jew, since the wine does not become yen nesekh until it goes down into the vat (see previous mishnah).  However, a Jew may not pick grapes with the non-Jew for the non-Jew causes the grapes to become impure. When the non-Jew puts the grapes in his impure winepress, the grapes will become impure. If a Jew helps him to do so, the Jew is helping to make produce grown in the land of Israel impure. The reason that treading on the grapes is permitted is that as soon as the non-Jew touches them, they are already impure.

Section two:  An Israelite who works in a winepress while impure is committing a sin, for he is impurifying the terumah and tithes and thereby rendering them inedible.  Since this is forbidden, another Jew may not even tread in the winepress with him, because that would be aiding a transgressor.  However, the other Jew may help this Jew before the process begins by bringing jugs to the winepress and he may help him remove the jugs when the pressing is over.  In other words, it is only forbidden to help him while the impure pressing is going on.  Before and after it is permitted.

Section three: The same rules that were stated in section two with regards to helping a winemaker who presses his wine while impure, are also true with regards to the impure baker.  One may not help him in the baking process, for he causes impurity to the terumah and tithes.  However, one may help him after the loaves are already baked. 

 

Questions for Further Thought:

·                      Why is it permitted to help the non-Jew tread but not to help the impure Jew, even though both cause the grapes to become impure?  

image_print