Avodah Zarah, Chapter Two, Mishnah Seven

 

Introduction

This mishnah lists food produced by non-Jews which a Jew is allowed to eat.

 

Mishnah Seven

The following are permitted to be eaten [by an israelite]:

1)                     milk which a non-Jew milked with a Jew watching him;

2)                     honey,

3)                     grape-clusters  — even though these secrete moisture the law which renders food susceptible to defilement by a liquid does not apply to them —

4)                     preserves into which they are not accustomed to put wine or vinegar,

5)                     pickled herring which has not been minced,

6)                     brine containing fish,

7)                     a leaf of asafoetida,

8)                     and rolled olive-cakes.

a)                                 Rabbi Yose says: those olives having pits ready to drop out are prohibited.

9)                     Locusts which come out of [a shopkeeper’s] basket are prohibited, but if from storage they are permitted.

a)                                 The same rule applies to terumah.

 

Explanation

1)                  As we explained in the previous mishnah, the concern with milk is that the non-Jew might mix milk which comes from a kosher animal with milk that comes from a non-kosher animal (such as a camel).  If the Jew is watching over the non-Jew we have no such concern and the milk is therefore permitted.

2)                  Mixing foreign substances with honey would spoil the honey.  Therefore we can assume that the non-Jew did not put anything into the honey and it is permitted.

3)                  Even though some grape juice may be dripping from the cluster of grapes, we are not concerned that the non-Jew used this juice in idol worship and it would be forbidden.  The mishnah also notes that the liquid that comes out of grapes is not the type of liquid which makes a food susceptible to impurities.  As we have learned before (Eduyot 4:6) food cannot become impure until it is made wet by seven types of liquids.  Grape juice is not one of them.

4)                  Preserved foods into which it is not customary to put wine or vinegar are permitted.

5)                  If one can see that the fish in the brine is actually herring, it is permitted, unlike the minced fish which was discussed above.

6)                  In the previous mishnah we learned that it was forbidden to eat pieces of the asa foetida, since the same knife used to cut this plant might have been used to cut non-kosher food.  In this mishnah we learn that since they don’t cut the leaves of the as foetida with this type of knife, it is permitted.

7)                  Olives that have been rolled out into cakes are permitted, since no wine is used in them.  According to Rabbi Yose, if the olives have become so soft that the pits fall out, wine might have been put on them to soften them.  Therefore, they are forbidden.

8)                  Some types of locusts are kosher.  When a seller sells them, he brings them from his storehouse and puts them in a small basket, onto which he mixes a little wine.  Due to the addition of this wine, locusts that come from this basket are forbidden.  The locusts that come from the storehouse are permitted since the wine has not yet been put upon them.

The mishnah points out that the same is true with regards to terumah.  If a kohen sells locusts from the little basket, we must suspect that he has dripped wine on them, and that the wine might be terumah, which is strictly forbidden to non-priests.  If, however, the locusts come from storage, we can be sure that there is no terumah-wine mixed in with them.

 

Questions for Further Thought:

·                      What effect does the last line of the mishnah have on our understanding of the chapter?  What analogy is being made by the mishnah?   

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