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The Mishna (Terumot 7:5) says:

שְׁתֵּי קֻפּוֹת, אַחַת שֶׁל תְּרוּמָה וְאַחַת שֶׁל חֻלִּין, שֶׁנָּפְלָה סְאָה תְרוּמָה לְתוֹךְ אַחַת מֵהֶן וְאֵין יָדוּעַ לְאֵיזוֹ מֵהֶן נָפְלָה, הֲרֵי אֲנִי אוֹמֵר, לְתוֹךְ שֶׁל תְּרוּמָה נָפְלָה.‏

If there were two baskets, one of Terumah and one of Chulin, and a Se'ah [specific unit of volume] of Terumah fell into one of them, but it is not known into which it fell, I can assume that it had fallen into that of the Terumah.

This case is strange because usually teruma, which is forbidden to be eaten from the Torah, should be treated strictly in a case of doubt.

My question is: What is the logic for being lenient when we don't know which basket the teruma fell into, based on the assumption it fell in a particular way, against the general rule to be strict with regard to a doubt in Torah law?


This is a summary of my research so far, which I put here so as not to distract from the main question:

Some commentators (Tosafot Yom Tov quoting Rambam Hilchot Terumot 13:13-14, Tif'eret Yisra'el) avoid the question by saying that the case is dealing with teruma in this time, which is prohibited to eat from the rabbis (derabbanan). If it were dealing with teruma prohibited from the Torah (de'orayta), it would not be permitted to assume the teruma fell into teruma.

However, it seems that this Mishna is necessarily dealing with teruma de'orayta. The Tosefta (6:10) quotes the same law in the name of Rabbi Yosi. Rabbi Yosi holds teruma is forbidden from the Torah at all times (Yevamot 82b).

Furthermore, the Peney Moshe (Mar'e Happanim 7:3 ד"ה רבי שמעון בן לקיש) says that the Tosafot Yom Tov misunderstood the Rambam, which was his source for saying this case is teruma derabbanan. The Rambam only meant to say it about the case of two things falling into two boxes, not one thing falling into two boxes. That would mean the Rambam takes the case of this Mishnah to be from the Torah.

In fact, it is Rabbi Yochanan (Yerushalmi 7:3), who is the one holds that teruma is still forbidden from the Torah (Yevamot 81a), who says that we are dealing with a case where there isn't a majority of chullin to nullify the teruma, which doesn't allow us to use the proportion of the mixture as a way to make the case permitted from the Torah (according to which there needs to be a majority of chullin).

Possible starting point: Yevamot 82b defends Rabbi Yochanan (in a slightly different case) by saying that this concept ("שאני אומר") is different, but it doesn't explain the logic why it should be different.

This question might also apply to Rabbi Eli'ezer's opinion (Terumot 5:2-6), but there are differences: the concept of safek is less prominent there, his opinion has both lenient and strict ramifications, and the sages disagree with him.

  • "This case is strange because usually teruma, which is forbidden to be eaten from the Torah, should be treated strictly in a case of doubt." More relevant than that t'ruma can't be eaten is that m'duma can't be eaten. Is that also mid'oray'sa in this case (assuming the t'ruma fell into the chulin)? ¶ Is "kol kavua k'mechetza al mechetza dame" relevant here, perhaps?? – msh210 Apr 29 at 20:51
  • @msh210 Meduma is nullified at 1/2 by the Torah and 1/101 by the rabbis. Whether there is a majority to nullify it according to Torah law is a dispute in the Yerushalmi. I quoted Rabbi Yochanan's opinion because he is the one who holds teruma is still forbidden from the Torah – b a Apr 29 at 21:06
  • at first glance there is a machloket in Yebamot if there is rov (מדאורייתא תרומה חד בתרי בטל) or teruma derabanan (leniency of the isur itself) – kouty Apr 30 at 4:06
  • I agree with @msh that meduma is going to enter somewhere. 4:12 looks relevant. – Heshy Apr 30 at 13:56
  • @Heshy In 4:12 there is enough to nullify the meduma even with the shi'ur derabbanan (1/101), and the chiddush of the mishna is that two places can join to make the shi'ur. Here there is not even enough to nullify it with the shi'ur de'orayta (1/2) according to Rabbi Yochanan – b a Apr 30 at 18:33
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The answer is Chezkat Chulin (permitted) + Safek if something fell there, lead to permit even for An Isur Deorayta.

The Gemara Yebamot says regarding a berayta similar to our Mishna, that the Kula שאני אומר (because I assume that)

  • is because of a Rov Chulin (> 50%, not > 100/1). Even if the Teruma falls on the chulin, it's batel berov deorayta. this is Resh Lakish opinion (Resh Lakish rules that Teruma nowedays is Derabana, but I am not convinced that he cannot explain the Berayta even with Teruma Deorayta, see Maharsha. The Gemara seems to say that he doesn't make difference between Teruma Deorayta or derabanan the words of the Gemara are "בדרבנו נמי ריבויא הוא דבעינן" )(1).

  • Or because the Berayta opinion is that teruma bizman Haze derabanan (aliba derabanan derabbi Yose), there is not Isur deorayta anyways, the safek Isur is enough, this allow us to make as if the Teruma falls on the Teruma.This is Rabbi Yochanan opinion. (and there is a side in Gemara that Isur derabanan even without שאני אומר and without Rov is annuled. I am not able to explain it now).

  • For the opinion of Rabbi Yochanan, the last explanation, probably the conclusion, of the Gemara is that we need no rov because it is only a safek if the Teruma falls on the Chulin. The permission is the Result of שאני אומר only.

Rabbi Yose rules that Teruma nowadays is Deorayta (for wine and cereals), Rashi says (Yevamot 81a) that for other species, it's Deorayta with stringencies of the Teruma Deorayta. And Rabbi Yochanan rules as Rabbi Yose (Yevamot Gemara and Rashi 81a, 82b).

The Tosfot on Yevamot 82a, paragraph "Shte Kupot" asks: Why Resh lakish didn't ask to Rabbi Yochanan, if Teruma nowadays is Deorayta, why the Mishna allows the Kupa of Chulin, there is a Safek Isur Deorayta. And he answers (the statement begins by ואפשר), that for Rabbi Yochanan there is no Kushia because Resh Lakish himself agrees with Teruma Deorayta with Rob doesn't prohibit the Kupa of Chulin if there is a doubt if the truma fell there because of the Chezkat Chulin.

The Tosfot Yeshanim from manuscript explains this very clearly. In our Mishna,even if we interpret it without Rov, with Teruma Deorayta, there is no problem to understand the leniency. The reason is that perhaps nothing fell in the Kupa of Chulin and there is Chezkat Chulin. It's not the same for the Berayta in Yevamot, because איתחזק נפילה in the Kupa of chulin.

I think that the Tosfot Yeshanim gives clearly the reasoning to answer your question: safek if something fell in the Chulin + Chezkat Chulin => Mutar. See Rabbi Shimeon Shkop Shaare Yosher shaar 2 chapter 11 about the Tosfot Yevamot.

The Tosfot Yom Tov and Tiferet Israel you cited follow the way of the Rashba in Torat Habayit Bayt 4Shaar 2. He says that no one will permit even in the case of our Mishna without Rov for a prohibition Deorayta. The Tur YD 111 and the SA 111.3 stated as the Rashba for an Isur Deorayta.


(1): This sugia is treated in Torat Habayt Haaroch Bait 4 shaar 2. He says that despite that generally Safek derabanan Lakula, Resh Lakish holds that the doubt here is more than a simple doubt if something fell because we know that the isur fell elsewhere. See Raavad who rules as the Rashba in Sefer Katuv Sham on the Baal Hamaor about Gemara Pesachim 9a-b-10a. (אפילו שני עכברים ושני בתים כיון דאיכא ביאת עכבר בתרוויהו ואיכא חמץ בחד מינייהו כמי שהוחזק שם חמץ הוי) and Baal Hamaaor as the Tosfot Yeshanim.

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