I have a question with regards to the sugya in Pesachym 74B regarding soaking meat in vinegar.

To start with:

  1. if blood has already been purged, why soak in vinegar to remove the blood?
  2. how can the vinegar be treif due to the blood but then not make the meat treif?

1 Answer 1


The meaning of this sugya is actually disputed by Rashi and Tosafos.

Rashi (ד"ה חלייה) offers two definitions of this term: the juice that comes out of the meat when it's cut, or vinegar that it's soaked in after roasting it, to remove the blood. And indeed he holds that even when the vinegar becomes forbidden due to the blood, the meat can remain kosher.

Tosafos (ד"ה אסמיק) questions Rashi's explanation on various grounds, including both of the problems you mentioned. They explain that the Gemara is referring to raw meat; soaking it in vinegar was used as an alternative method of kashering, since it binds the blood in place, and as long as it hasn't moved around in the meat it remains kosher (see mekubal's comments to this question) - although Rema (Yoreh De'ah 67:6) discourages this practice even for regular meat; for liver it was already forbidden by the Geonim (ibid. 73:2)). Given enough time, though, it will start drawing out the blood. So the various possibilities are:

  • If the meat doesn't turn red: according to the סתמא דגמרא and Rav Ashi, there's no problem. According to Ravina, the meat is fine but the vinegar is forbidden, since inevitably some blood must have come out of the capillaries (though since it's such a tiny amount, the meat itself remains kosher).

  • If the meat turns red: this means that the blood is already getting drawn out. According to the סתמא דגמרא (and, if I'm understanding correctly, Rav Ashi too, and certainly Ravina), both the meat and the vinegar become forbidden.

So this leaves us to explain what Rashi meant. It may be that he understands "meat that turned red" in the same way as the Raavad (quoted in Migdal Oz to Rambam, Hil. Maachalos Asuros 6:12) - that it means that blood collected in one place (e.g., because of an injury). If I recall correctly, the halachah is indeed that such clots have to be opened and drained before the meat is salted or roasted; so here the question would be what if this wasn't done, and it was soaked in vinegar afterwards. (Though if that's the case, I'm not sure why Rashi would say that the meat itself is permissible.)

  • this is giving me such a headache. i passed it on to my chavrusa lead, i'll let you know if we think we understand it after review.
    – inSeattle
    Dec 21, 2010 at 2:21

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