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Bava Metzia, 89


QUESTION: The Gemara cites several Beraisos which discuss what type of items a hired laborer may not eat while he is working with them. The first Beraisa derives from the verse (Devarim 25:4) that a laborer may eat only items which grow from the ground, excluding a laborer who is milking a cow, making milk curdle, or pressing the curds into cheese.

It is clear from our Gemara that milk is not considered something that grows from the ground ("Gidulei Karka"). However, the Gemara in Eruvin (27b) derives from the verse that when using the money of Ma'aser Sheni in Yerushalayim to buy food, one may buy only a food item that was produced from another food item, and which is "Gidulei Karka." The Gemara there says that this includes animals, since they are reproduced from other animals, and they are considered "Gidulei Karka" since their nourishment comes from the ground! Why, then, does our Gemara imply that animals are *not* "Gidulei Karka?" (TOSFOS, TOSFOS SHANTZ cited by the SHITAH MEKUBETZES)

ANSWER: TOSFOS (DH Gidulei Karka) answers that our Gemara is referring only to things which actually grow out of the ground as "Gidulei Karka," as is implied by the word in the verse which the Gemara is expounding -- "Dayish," or threshing, which applies only to actual produce that grows from the ground. The Gemara in Eruvin is referring to a second time of "Gidulei Karka" -- anything which obtains nourishment from the ground or from produce that grows in the ground.

The verse regarding Ma'aser Sheni mentions that the money may be used to buy "cattle, sheep, wine, or beverage" (Devarim 14:26), and the Gemara learns that the common denominator is that all of these things "grow from the ground," using that terminology in its broad sense as referring even to things that receive their nourishment from the ground. With regard to the food that a laborer may eat while working, the verse says "Dayish," thus excluding items to which "Dayish" does not apply, such as animals that do not actually grow out of the ground. (I. Alsheich)

QUESTION: The Gemara cites several Beraisos which discuss what type of items a hired laborer may not eat while he is working with them. The last Beraisa states that a laborer may eat the fruit only as long it has not been processed to the point that it is Chayav in Chalah ("Lo Nigmar Melachto l'Chalah"). This excludes dough that is being kneaded, rounded, or baked.

We know that kneading ("Lash") comes before the process of rounding the dough ("Mekatef") and baking it ("Ofeh"). If the Beraisa tells us that a laborer who is kneading dough may not eat from it since it has reach a point of "Nigmar Melachto l'Chalah," then why does the Beraisa have to add the two later procedures?

ANSWER: TOSFOS and the RITVA answer that the reason why the Beraisa mentions "Ofeh," baking, is because it is possible to bake dough without kneading it first, in which case it will become Chayav in Chalah without the process of kneading. When the flour is mixed with a lot of water, such that it is a very thin dough, it does not need to be kneaded.

Why, though, does the Beraisa mention the Melachah of "Mekatef," rounding the dough, if that Melachah must always be preceded by kneading? Tosfos leaves this question unanswered.

The RITVA and TOSFOS RABEINU PERETZ answer that since the Tana mentions "Lash" and "Ofeh," he also mentions "Mekatef," even though it was not necessary to mention it. The TOSFOS HA'ROSH writes that the Tana is mentioning the "order of preparation of bread," and thus he mentions "Mekatef" even though it is not necessary.

The Acharonim ask why the Rishonim do not ask a similar question on the first Beraisa that the Gemara quotes. The Beraisa derives from the verse (Devarim 25:4) that a laborer may eat only from items which grow from the ground, excluding a laborer who is milking a cow, making milk curdle, or pressing the curds into cheese. There, too, the question arises: why does the Beraisa mention the two later procedures, if milking a cow must come before them?

The TORAS CHAIM answers that the question does not apply at all to the earlier Beraisa. Here, the Beraisa is merely listing procedures that do not involve things that grow from the ground. Hence, it lists milking along with cheese-making. In the later Beraisa, though, the Beraisa is teaching the point at which dough is Chayav in Chalah, and thus it is unnecessary to mention stages that come *after* the dough has already become Chayav in Chalah. (I. Alsheich)


QUESTION: Rava concludes that when the Beraisa says that the laborer may dip his fruits into salt, it is referring to when he is eating one at a time, and he and his employer did not stipulate a given number of fruits that he may eat. In such a case, dipping in salt does not establish an obligation to separate Ma'aser. However, when the laborer eats two fruits at a time, then he may not dip them into salt because doing so makes the fruit Chayav in Ma'aser. When the laborer and the employer stipulated a certain number of fruits that the laborer may eat, then he may not eat two even if he does not dip them into salt.

According to Rava, the Gemara should be able to answer its earlier question (89a) of whether a laborer is permitted to scorch the fruit (to make it tastier) and eat it, since dipping the fruit in salt (to make it tastier) is akin to scorching it with a flame. Indeed, if it is permitted to dip the fruit into salt -- which is an act more similar to eating the fruit with another condiment (which is Asur), then certainly scorching the fruit should be permitted! Why does the Gemara not answer its question from Rava's statement?


(a) TOSFOS (DH Po'el) cites RABEINU TAM who answers that when the fruit is fit to eat in its present state, it is obvious that the labor is permitted to scorch it, for doing so merely enhances the taste of the fruit. The Gemara's questions involves fruit that is barely fit to eat in its present, and scorching it will make it completely fit to eat. In such a case, the Gemara asks whether scorching the fruit is like eating it with other condiments, since it is the scorching which enables the laborer to eat a lot of the fruit, or perhaps there is no difference between scorching fruit that is already fully edible and scorching fruit that is barely edible.

(b) According to RASHI, however, the answer of Rabeinu Tam does not suffice. TOSFOS therefore offers another answer (which is also the approach of the RAMBAN in Milchamos and the RITVA). When Rava permits dipping the fruit in salt, he is referring only to when the employer gave permission to the laborer to do so. Hence, we cannot answer from Rava's ruling that scorching fruit (without the employer's permission) is permitted.

(c) The BA'AL HA'ME'OR writes that, indeed, according to Rava who holds that the laborer may dip the fruits into salt, it is certainly permitted to scorch the fruits, and according to Rava the Gemara's question is answered. (I. Alsheich)

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