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Something "sharp" for the purpose of reawakening taste in vessels which are "eino ben yomo" (ones that haven't been used for 24 hours), is a subject of dispute. According to the first opinion the Mechaber (YD 96:1), "sharp" is limited to only "chiltas", as explained by the Taz:

בסכין של בשר בן יומו. זהו כסברת מהר"ם בטור דלא מקרי דבר חריף אלא קורט של חלתית דמנקב בני מעיה של בהמה כשאוכל אותה וע"כ נותן טעם לשבח אפי' אינו בן יומו אבל שאר דברים חריפים אין דינם כן

What exactly is "chiltis"? The reason for the question is to understand exactly what the Mechaber holds as being sharp.

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    While translation questions for helping to understand a Jewish text are on topic, please show some basic work before coming here. Just typing the word into Google takes you straight to the wikipedia page he.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%97%D7%9C%D7%AA%D7%99%D7%AA I'm left not knowing if that wasn't within your capabilities or if there's something there you don't understand. Without you giving background I don't know how to answer you effectively. (I assume if you were able to look up the translation of a word in a dictionary, you would have done so instead of askng volunters to do it for you)
    – Double AA
    Feb 12, 2023 at 15:50

1 Answer 1

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Chiltis is a root vegetable known as Asafetida1,2, which is like garlic and is considered extremely strong and used in India for cooking and medicine. It is called חלתית from the root חוֹלֶה, sick, because it makes one sick (supposedly burns a hole in one's stomach if not careful3).

It is mentioned in the Mishna in Avodah Zara 35B, where it listed as one of the items one may not purchase from non-Jews. Rashi:

חלתית - מין פירי הוא שקורין לזר"א4 בלע"ז ומחתכין את קרטיו בסכין ואסור משום שמנוניתא דסכינא

It appears in halachic discussion as an extreme case for sharpness; something sharper than onion or garlic, and therefore some opinions, such as the Maharam M'Rottenburg, hold that only it is mechalia l’shvach - refreshes taste in a pleasant way, not t'znon etc.

Similarly, in many cases where we say that a davar charif (something spicy/sharp) is not boleya kula (see SH YD Siman 96:1) or mechalia l’shvach (such as with lemon and salt in SH YD Siman 96:3,4), chiltis is listed as an exception, given how extremely sharp it is.


1 - Wikipedia article (warning: contains swear words)
2 - Klein dictionary entry
3 - See page 23 of this OU article
4 - Otzar Laazei Rashi entry

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    Great find! Apparently it has a lot of medicinal plussides, see: webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-248/asafoetida
    – Shmuel
    Feb 12, 2023 at 20:31
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    Who are you quoting who defines it as Asafetida?
    – user6591
    Feb 13, 2023 at 3:29
  • My own Rav, because it seems this isn't controversial. Do you know any other opinions @user6591?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Feb 13, 2023 at 7:20
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    Usually something like this would be sourced, especially on this site. Seems to be the same item as Jastrow translates it.
    – user6591
    Feb 13, 2023 at 12:37
  • @user6591 thanks for pointing that out. Edited
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Feb 13, 2023 at 12:52

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