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I'm trying to comprehend the concept of "אפשר לסוחטו אסור" (roughly: "if it's possible to extract it - something prohibited from something otherwise permitted - it is prohibited"). As far as I can tell, logically, it should mean "even though it is possible to extract it, it is prohibited". My problem is that, whenever I encounter it in Hebrew, it is just the expression alone, and whenever I encounter it in English, it is translated more or less as I did above (except it's usually not fully translated; it usually goes something like "we hold אפשר לסוחטו is אסור"), which is entirely unhelpful in trying to actually understand the concept. In fact, that "translation", almost sounds like it is to be understood as, "because it's possible to extract it, it is prohibited." That can't be the correct rendering, can it?

If it's the former, why does the literature on it use that expression (אפשר לסוחטו אסור)? Why not just say "we don't Pasken that it is possible to (Halachically) extract it," or, "it is not possible to extract it," which are much more common (and in my opinion clearer) ways of expressing that the Halachah rejects a proposed line of reasoning?

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The gemara in Hullin (108a) discusses the halachic status of אפשר לסוחטו, and brings different opinions of whether it that thing is assur or mutar once squeezed.

אי קסבר אפשר לסוחטו מותר חתיכה אמאי נעשית נבלה אלא קסבר אפשר לסוחטו אסור

What you see here is a common grammatical usage in the gemara -- a noun phrase identifying some object, followed by an adjective explaining the status of that object. אפשר לסוחטו is the noun phrase, and אסור (or מותר in the gemara above) is the adjective.

The translations that you've presented translate the phrase אפשר לסוחטו as a clause, adding in words like "if it's" or "even though it's". A more helpful and grammatically faithful translation of the three words אפשר לסוחטו אסור would be "something from which it is possible to squeeze [the taste of the issur it soaked up] is assur [anyway]." (You might further explain this by saying that even though the taste of the issur has been removed through squeezing, the din of issur still can't be removed from it.)

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I thought the object having the action done to it was the piece of Heter that had absorbed Isur. If you extract the Isur, the piece reverts to its original status of Heter (or not if we Pasken Asur). You are strongly implying the opposite - that the Heter is being extracted from the Isur yet remains Asur. – Seth J Jun 28 '12 at 2:10
@SethJ: You're right. I misunderstood, and your understanding better fits with my understanding of the word סוחט, which means to squeeze rather than extract. (Like squeezing a fruit for its juice is סוחט in Hilchot Shabbat.) You might get a better explanation at adultyeshivala.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/…. I think that the grammatical phenomenon I described is still correct, and I'll update my answer to reflect the better translation. – Chanoch Jun 28 '12 at 2:43
Hmm, I still think that leans more towards interpreting it as even though. What I'm getting from you, though, is that אפשר לסוחטו is an Halachic construct rather than a phrase. Somehow, to me, this makes my question stronger. Why not just say "אי קסבר אפשר לסוחטו אמאי נעשית נבלה אלא קסבר אי אפשר לסוחטו" ? – Seth J Jun 28 '12 at 13:09

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