Oktzim, Chapter Three, Mishnah Four

 

Introduction

Today’s mishnah discusses what constitutes food such that if it was originally terumah it is still considered terumah and it would still be subject to the laws of food impurity.

We should note that the identity of some of these spices is speculative. Nevertheless, the principles are clear.

 

Mishnah Four

1)      The aneth stalk after having given its taste to a dish is no longer subject to the laws of terumah, and also no longer imparts food uncleanness.

2)      The young sprouts of hawthorn, of lapidum, or leaves of the wild arum, do not impart food uncleanness until they are sweetened.

3)      Rabbi Shimon says: also [the leaves of] the colocynth are like them.

 

Explanation

Section one: Once a stalk of aneth has given away its taste into a dish, it is no longer considered to be food. It’s just a stalk. Therefore, if it was terumah, the stalk can now be eaten by a non-priest. And it is no longer subject to the laws of food impurity.

Section two: These sprouts or other agricultural products are not considered human food in their raw form. They are “food” only once they’ve been “sweetened” by soaking them in wine, vinegar or salt water, sort of pickling them. There are many foods we eat today that would probably have the same rule—for instance raw coffee or chocolate. These are inedible in their raw form and wouldn’t be considered food until they’ve been processed.

Section three: Some say that the vegetable referred to here is a type of wild vine while some say it is a wild melon. In any case, the leaves are not edible until sweetened.   

 

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