Saturday, 29 April 2017

Bava Batra 97: Diluted Tamad; Selling Wine

We know that tamad, a drink that is made from grape pomace* and water, should be tithed if the concentration is 1:1.  But what if, like in the majority of situations, the tamad is three parts water to one part grape pomace? or four parts water to one part grape pomade?  At what point is the tamad diluted enough to be permitted to a priest to drink?  At what point is it diluted enough to be permitted to  a non-priest if the term was not tithed?  

The rabbis debate this question.  They include related questions, like whether  the tamad is first or second tithe?  Further, they discuss the changes in the flavour of the tamad and whether or not that taste should have any bearing on its permissibility.  And what if the tamad is demai, doubtfully tithed produce?  What about tumah - when is tamad susceptible to ritual impurity?  If one adds more and more water to their grape pomace so that the tamad, at what point might tamad that is tamei be considered to be water and thus not able to render food susceptible to tumah? 

Finally, what quality of wine is required for the Shabbat prayers?  Should it be fit for the altar?  The rabbis spend some time on this question.  They consider the age of the juice or wine, the timing of one's knowledge about the wine's status, the smell of the wine, the dilution of the wine, whether or not the wine was left uncovered or the grapes were open to impurity or the venom of a snake, and whether or not a wine made of pomace is acceptable at all.  Just before concluding this Gemara, we learn about white wine versus red wine: Proverbs 23:31 suggests that red wine is considered to be superior to white.

Our daf ends with the start of a new Mishna: If one sells wine to another and it sours, the seller is not responsible for any loss.   If it was common knowledge that the seller 's wine always sours, then this was a mistaken transaction and the seller is financially responsible for any loss.  If the seller said to the buyer that the wine was spiced, then it must last until Shavuot.  Saying that the wine is old means that it came from the previous year.  Saying that the wine is aged means that it came from three years earlier.

*what remains of the grapes after they have been pressed (skin, stems, seeds, pulp, etc.)

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