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Who knows fifty-nine?

Please cite/link your sources, if possible. At some point in the next few days, I will:

  • Upvote all interesting answers.

  • Accept the best answer.

  • Go on to the next number.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

59 are (usually) the number of days in two consecutive Jewish months, since mostly they alternate between 29 and 30 days.

For halachic purposes, too, the 59th day can count as the last one of a two-month period. Thus, if one accepts on himself two consecutive periods of naziriteship, he may end them respectively on the 30th and 59th days (although it's preferable to keep 30 full days of naziriteship each time, and thus to bring his offerings on the 31st and 61st). (Rambam, Hil. Nezirus 4:2)

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Fifty-nine are the minimum parts (by volume) of kosher food into which one part non-kosher food can be added, leaving the mixture kosher, in the following limited cases:

  • 59 cups of kosher meat are cooked with 1 cup of raw udder meat. Since the udder meat contains both meat and milk, its quantity of meat is sufficient to add to the 59 cups other meat to nullify the milk. The kosher meat stays kosher (though not the udder meat). Yoreh Deah 90:1, based on Rashba's understanding.
  • In most cases where the non-kosher is only rabbinically prohibited, according to Rambam. This does not appear to be the accepted halacha.
  • The non-kosher food is countered by some other, totally different, non-kosher food. E.g. 59 parts kosher food, one part blood, one part forbidden fats (cheilev). Each non-kosher prohibition has 60 against it.
  • This case, similarly. 59 parts pareve against one part meat and one park milk. The meat and milk are each respectively countered by 60.

I think I just realized why Shach and others write 60 as ס׳ but spell out 59 as חמשים ותשע (besides the fact that 60 occurs far more often in hilchos kashrus than 59) -- because נ״ט would be too easily confused for another term in hilchos kashrus, נותן טעם.

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1  
The abbreviation נ"ט (for 59) comes up many times anyway (especially in older printings of ש"ע and רשב"א). It's usually not too hard to tell from context. –  WAF Jul 8 '10 at 20:08

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