Tevul Yom, Chapter Three, Mishnah Six



Today’s mishnah deals with a person who is chewing food and the food falls out of his mouth. First it falls onto his clothes and then onto a terumah loaf of bread (and then my poor meatball, it rolled out the door!). The question is—does the moisture on the food cause the loaf of terumah to be susceptible to impurity.


Mishnah Six

1)      A clean person who chewed food and it fell on his garments and on a loaf of terumah, it [the loaf] is not susceptible to uncleanness.  

2)      If he ate crushed olives or moist dates, [or] if his intention was to suck out the pit, and it fell on his garments and on a loaf of terumah, it is susceptible to uncleanness.

3)      If he ate dried olives, or dried figs or it was not his intention to suck out the pit, and they fell on his garments and on a loaf of terumah, it is not susceptible to uncleanness.  

4)      This is the case irrespective of whether it was a clean person or a tevul yom [who was eating].

a)      Rabbi Meir says: in either case it becomes susceptible to uncleanness in the case of a tevul yom, since liquids issuing from unclean persons render anything susceptible whether it was to his liking or not.

b)      But the sages say: a tevul yom is not regarded as an unclean person.




Section one: The person did not want this food to end up on his clothes. Therefore, this is considered a case of liquids that are “not to his liking.” For liquid to make food susceptible to impurity it generally has to be that he wanted the liquids to come into contact with his food (see introduction to Makhshirin).

We should note that the mishnah describes a terumah loaf even though the same halakhah is true even if the loaf is hullin. As far as liquid causing susceptibility to impurity, it makes no difference whether the food is terumah or hullin. The reason the mishnah mentions a terumah loaf is that in section four the tevul yom is discussed and a tevul yom disqualifies terumah.

Section two: In this case he gathered up a lot of spit in his mouth in order to get the pit out of the olives or dates. Thus the spit was originally something he wanted. Even though later he didn’t want the food to fall on his clothes, since originally he did want this spit, it causes the loaf to be susceptible.

Section three: In this case, the dates or olives were dry and he didn’t want to (or perhaps couldn’t) suck out the pit. Since he didn’t need the liquid of his own spittle it does not cause the loaf to be susceptible to impurity.

Section four: According to the first opinion, the above halakhot are true even if the person was a tevul yom. A tevul yom is not treated as if he were impure—as we see in the sages’ response to Rabbi Meir.

Rabbi Meir says that a tevul yom is considered like an impure person, and an impure person who causes liquids to come into contact with produce causes the produce to be susceptible (and impure) regardless of whether it was to his liking. This halakhah was taught in Makshirin 1:1.

While this debate is about one particular and obscure case, we see here a broad dispute. Rabbi Meir holds that a tevul yom, a person who went to the mikveh but the sun has not yet set, is treated as if he was impure. The sages disagree.