Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Overheard in the Beit Midrash

“Just because you
 can't taste
ta‘am after shishim,
 that doesn't mean God can't!”

ta‘am טעם = 'taste', a recognition attesting to the presence of a substance
shishim שישים = 'sixty', the 1-to-60 ratio at which ta‘am legally disappears

There is a dispute in the Gemara as to whether identical substances can be בטל bateil 'nullified' in each other, the way that one substance can be nullified in a different substance by a ratio so overwhelming that the taste can no longer be discerned.

The source of the opinion that מין במינו אינו בטל, 'a substance in its own type is not nullified', comes from Vayiqra’/Leviticus 16:18, where after mixing together the blood of a goat sacrifice with the blood of a much larger bull sacrifice, the Torah describes the Kohein Gadol utilizing "the blood of the bull and the blood of the goat" — as if they are still distinct! — instead of just "the [blended] blood".

Hence, just because you can't taste the difference, it doesn't mean that God can't.


Blogger thanbo said...

Bitul for Temple stuff (truma, maaser, orla, okra, etc.) follows different rules than food bitul: 1:100, 1:200, not at all, etc.

And 1:60 is a rule of thumb for taam, since we don't use the "non-Jew to taste" methodology. The real thing is taam.

11/28/2007 11:07 AM  

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