Keritot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Three

 

Introduction

At the end of yesterday’s mishnah we learned that if a person eats two halves of an olive’s worth of one prohibited substance, he is liable. Our mishnah deals with the question of how close these two acts must be for them to be considered one act of eating, such that he would be liable.

 

Mishnah Three

1)      Within what time must he eat them [for him to be liable]?   [The time he would need] if he ate a similar amount of parched grains of corn, the words of Rabbi Meir.

2)      But the rabbis say: he must take from the beginning to the end [of his eating] no more time than is required for the eating of a peras (a half a loaf of bread) [to be liable].

3)      If one eats unclean food or drinks unclean drinks, or if he drinks a quarter [of a log] of wine and then enters the Temple—[he is liable if it takes less time] than it takes to eat a peras.

4)      Rabbi Elazar says: if the drinking was interrupted or if he diluted it, he is exempt.

 

Explanation

Section one: Rabbi Meir holds that we imagine the prohibited substances as if they were parched grains of corn. If it took him longer to eat the prohibited substances than it would have to have eaten a similar amount of parched grains of corn, then he is exempt.

Section two: The other rabbis say that as long as he ate the half-olives within the amount of time it would take to eat half a loaf of a standard sized loaf of bread (four olive’s worth of bread) then he is liable. We should note that in later halakhah this became a standard as far as eating obligatory substances, such as matzah on Pesah. One must eat the matzah within this period of time for it to count as his obligatory matzah. Tiny pieces of matzah eaten throughout the meal are not sufficient to fulfill one’s obligation.

Section three: This section deals with a priest who does something to disqualify himself from either eating holy food (terumah and sacrifices) or from entering the Temple. If he eats or drinks impure foods he cannot eat holy foods. If he drinks wine, he cannot go into the Temple (see Leviticus 10:9). Our mishnah teaches that if he eats or drinks these things within the amount of time it would require to eat half of a loaf of bread, then he cannot eat holy food (if he ate impure food or drink) or go into the Temple (if he drank wine).

Section four: Rabbi Elazar provides a different measure when it comes to drinking the wine. If he interrupted his drinking, or if he stopped long enough to dilute it with water, meaning he didn’t drink the whole quarter log at once, then he is allowed to go into the Temple.     

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