י״א בתמוז ה׳תשע״ח (June 24, 2018)

Zevahim 72a-b: Objects of Unique Importance

Ordinarily, when permitted and forbidden items become mixed together, depending on circumstances, the forbidden items can become batel (nullified) be-rov – when the majority of the items are permitted – or be-shishim – when the amount of permitted items is such that in a mixture the forbidden items could not be tasted, which is determined by to be when there is sixty times as much permitted material as there is forbidden material.

The Gemara on today’s daf discusses an exception to that rule, specifically that when certain objects are considered to have unique importance they cannot become nullified. We follow the opinion of Rabbi Akiva who enumerates seven such objects:

1. Egozei Perekh – Nuts from Perekh

2. Rimonei Badan – Pomegranates from Badan

3. Ḥaviyot setumot – Sealed barrels

4. Ḥilfei teradin – Beet greens

5. Kilḥei keruv – Cabbage stalks

6. Dla’at Yevanit – Grecian gourds

Rabbi Akiva adds:

7. Kikarot shel ba’al ha-bayit – Loaves of a homeowner.

The egoz (walnut) is a commonly grown nut in Israel, which grows even in the warmer parts of the country. It is not uncommon to find an egoz tree planted in the shade of a palm tree in the Jordan Valley, with the palm tree shading the egoz from the sun. There are three types of egozim that are divided based on the thickness of their shells, with egozei perekh having very thin shells. Such nuts were considered to be of the highest quality.

The sealed barrels that are mentioned refer to casks of wine. These casks were usually made of earthenware with a stopper on top that was used to close the cask. When the cask was being moved or was going to be put into storage, the stopper was sealed with clay, which was removed when the cask was meant to be opened. Once the cask was opened, the wine would be exposed to the air and its quality would deteriorate.

It should be noted that the Rambam rules that these seven things are enumerated as examples, and that really it is those things that stand alone as important that will be granted this status based on the reality of every place and time.