The Talmud solves this difficult by noting a chronological progression. The mishnah from Hullin was R. Joshua’s opinion before he changed his mind in his conversation with R. Ishmael. Originally R. Joshua thought that Gentile cheese was prohibited because they used rennet from nevelah animals. But then R. Joshua realized that rennet does not have the status of the animal from which it comes. Rennet from a sacrificial animal can be swallowed (if the priest has an iron stomach). At this stage, R. Joshua allowed cheese curdled with rennet but not cheese curdled with stomach lining (real flesh). Thus the mishnah in Hullin does not reflect R. Joshua’s final opinion, nevertheless, the mishnah did not change.
Today’s sugya continues trying to figure out why Gentile cheese is prohibited.
These three amoraim give three more reasons why Gentile cheese is prohibited. Vinegar is prohibited because it comes from wine. Orlah is a tree in its first three years of growth, which is prohibited. It is interesting to note that everyone seems to know that it is prohibited but no one seems to know why.
R. Joshua and R. Eliezer disagree as to whether one may use the sap from an orlah tree, R. Joshua permits and R. Eliezer prohibits. So at first, the Talmud thinks that R. Nahman b. Yitzchak follows R. Eliezer who prohibits all sap. But then the Talmud realizes that if this sap comes from the fruit of an orlah tree, even R. Joshua prohibits it. Thus R. Nahman b. Yitzchak can accord even with R. Joshua (phew!).
It is forbidden for Jews to derive any benefit from Gentile wine or from orlah. In contrast, pig products are prohibited only in eating. If Gentile cheese was prohibited because of wine or orlah it should have been prohibited to derive benefit from it. But it is not. Thus these two reasons are refuted.
This entire section contains derashot relating Song of Songs 1 to scholars of Torah.
Torah scholars are like a flask of expensive perfume. They should teach their Torah to the outside world so that their good teachings (smell) can spread.
This midrash (and those below) play on the word “alamot” which literally means “maidens” or “young women.” With one vowel change it turns into “the hidden things.” When a Torah scholar teaches others, the hidden meanings of the words become revealed. As a teacher, I can tell you that this is certainly true. When teaching, I understand the material far better than I do when just learning it without the intent of teaching other.
By splitting the word “alamot” into two words and revocalizing it, we can read “over death,” an allusion to the Angel of Death. One who teaches Torah is loved even by the angel of death. While I assume that this is meant to be a good thing, I’m not really 100 per cent sure.
Another vowel change yields “olamot”—worlds. The Torah scholar earns both worlds, for he/she impacts this world and receives merit in the world to come. I read these kind of statements as saying that a particular act is good for others and is also inherently good even if if does not impact other people. At least that’s my rationalist reading of cases where the tradition says that one receives reward in both worlds.
This mishnah lists things that were made by non-Jews which Jews may not eat but fromwhich they may derive benefit.
An earlier mishnah in this chapter began with a list of things owned by a non-Jew from which it was prohibited to derive benefit. This is a more stringent legal category than food which is merely prohibited to eat, the list which is contained in our mishnah. We will explain each item in this mishnah and why it is forbidden to eat. 1) Milk—if the non-Jew milked an animal without a Jew watching, he may have mixed into the milk, milk which comes from an non-kosher animal, such as a camel. 2) Bread and oil—this prohibition is not due to a fear of the bread or oil being truly non-kosher. Rather the Sages prohibited a Jew from eating non-Jewish bread or oil in order to prevent Jews from socializing with non-Jews. The Talmud relates that it is permitted to eat bread made by bakers (as opposed to private individuals) since that will not bring Jews and non-Jews together. The mishnah notes, in what is surely a later addition, that Rabbi and his court permitted Jews to consume non-Jewish oil. The “Rabbi” referred to here is Rabbi Judah Nesia, the grandson of Rabbi Judah the Prince who composed the
This passage asks what the problem could be with milk received from non-Jews.
If the milk was from an unclean animal (such as a camel or pig), it would have a different color from milk from sheep, goats or cows (clean animals). And if the milk was a mixture, such that it would look like kosher milk, then the milk could not be used to curdle cheese, because milk from unkosher animals cannot be used to curdle. So why should we be concerned about unkosher milk?
The person here does not want to test all of the milk to see if it will curdle because he wants the milk for food, not for cheese (this was probably unusual in those days). And he can’t just test a little bit, because a little bit of milk would not curdle even if it was from a clean animal. And that milk might be from an unclean animal.
Even if he wants the milk for cheese, the test might be problematic because even if all of the clean milk does curdle, there might have been unclean milk in it and that milk would remain between the holes of the cheese.
Today’s sugya discusses the prohibition of bread made by Gentiles.
The sugya begins with R. Yohanan noting that bread was not permitted by the “court,” which seems to be some sort of official court composed of the sages. The implication is that there were others who did permit bread made by Gentiles. And indeed, the Talmud shows that some people mistakenly thought that Rabbi [Judah Hanasi] permitted bread made by Gentiles.
In reality, Rabbi only wanted to permit bread “in the field,” meaning in a non-social situation. Eating Gentile bread was prohibited because it leads to fraternization (breaking bread with someone is a sign of socializing), and in the field there is no such concern. But Rabbi did not mean to permit such bread under all circumstances.
This is a different version of how people came to mistakenly believe that Rabbi allowed non-Jewish bread.
Two amoraim note that even if Rabbi was looking for a Gentile baker, this does not mean that a Gentile baker could always be used. First of all, he would only allow a Gentile baker if no Jewish baker could be found. In other words, ideally one should eat Jewish bread. Only if there is no choice would one be allowed to eat Gentile bread.
Two, this would only apply in non-social situations (in the field). In the city, this would always be prohibited, to prevent fraternization.
We can see here in this story how contentious of an issue the bread of Gentiles was. Aibu was sort of hiding his eating of the bread, and still Rava severely criticized him. My impression is that this issue was delicate because the only possible reason for the prohibition is the fear of fraternization. Not eating Gentile bread was simply a means of keeping Jews away from non-Jews. It is not like wine, which is sometimes used in idolatrous ceremonies, nor is it like cheese, that might have non-kosher ingredients. It would be more like beer (yum!) which is also prohibited only because of fraternization. From the early medieval period, Ashkenazi Jews were not strict about this prohibition. In times when bread was usually made communally, and large communal ovens were needed, they did not have any choice but to eat Gentile bread. In modern times, as long as the bread is kosher, non-Haredi Jews generally eat bread baked by Gentiles, especially professionally baked bread.
This week’s daf begins by discussing the prohibition of oil made by non-Jews.
According to Rav, Daniel (from the Bible) made a decree against using Gentile oil. While the Talmud does not explain here what Daniel’s reasoning was, we can assume that it was to prevent Jews from fraternizing with non-Jews. In other words, the prohibition of Gentile oil was a step to keep Jews from assimilating with non-Jews.
Shmuel seems to fear that the oil actually has prohibited ingredients in it. While there is nothing wrong with the oil, if the oil was used in vessels that had been previously used with forbidden foods, then the oil is forbidden.