ח׳ באדר ה׳תשע״ח (February 23, 2018)

Avoda Zara 39a-b: Non-Jewish Foods That Are Permitted

Following discussions of foods prepared by non-Jews that are forbidden, the Mishna on today’s daf enumerates products prepared by non-Jews that are permitted.

In this list we find, among other things –

· Milk that was milked by a non-Jew in the presence of a Jewish person

· Honey

· Clusters of juicy grapes

· Pickled food that does not ordinarily have wine or vinegar as one of its ingredients

· A leaf of the ḥiltit plant

The Gemara discusses each of these cases.

Milk. Although the Mishna appears to require that the Jewish person watch the milking process, the Gemara quotes a baraita that permits the milk as long as the Jewish person was in the vicinity, even if he was not watching. The Gemara explains that the very presence of the Jew will frighten the non-Jew and keep him from placing anything non-kosher in the milk. As we have already learned, some contemporary rabbis permit the use of milk that has government inspection guaranteeing the purity of the milk.

Honey. The Gemara explains that the laws of bishul akum will not apply, since honey is eaten in its raw state (see daf 38), and any additives will ruin it, so there is no reason for concern.

Clusters of juicy grapes. Although juice from the grapes may be squeezed out, it is not considered to be wine. Therefore there is no concern with a non-Jew having touched the juice.

Pickled food. Although some pickled food commonly contains wine or wine-vinegar, which would make it forbidden, other foods that are pickled in a manner that does not include the use of wine or vinegar are permitted; did not establish a blanket prohibition on all pickled products.

A leaf of the ḥiltit plant. The previous Mishna (35b) taught that drops of the Ferula assafoetida plant are forbidden, and the Gemara (39a) explained that this is because the bark may have been cut with a knife that had been used for non-kosher things. Regarding a leaf from the plant, there is no such concern.

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