Sunday, 25 March 2018

Avodah Zara 69: Drinks with a Mouse, Trusting Barrels of Wine with Gentile Guards

Today's daf continues a conversation about forbidden and permitted food and drink.  Specifically, they continue to discuss what should be permitted after a mouse falls into vinegar.  Is it permitted because the mouse disintegrated and thus a person would drink small pieces of mouse?  Or forbidden because a whole mouse would only affect the liquid immediately surrounding it and thus the drinker would not ingest the mouse at all?!  Although the mouse might have a strong taste, it is suggested that this case should not be more stringent than a case of terumah falling into chulin, non-sacred things.  In the end they determine that a mouse that has fallen into vinegar or wine forbids the liquid if it is more than one-sixtieth of the entire container, just like other halachot.

A new Mishna shares a number of teachings:
  • if a Gentile was travelling together with a Jew and barrels of wine, 
    • if the barrels are guarded when the Jew leaves, they are permitted
    • if the Jew told the Gentile that he would not return for enough time to break the plug or the lid, seal it, and dry it, the barrels are forbidden
    • R. Shimon ben Gamliel says that the barrels are also forbidden if the Gentile has time to break the seal, remove the plug, replace it with a new plug and reseal it
  • If a Jew left a Gentile on a wagon/ship with barrels of wine and took a shortcut,
    • the wine is permitted even if the Jew entered the city and bathed in a bathhouse
    • the wine is forbidden if the Jew said he would not return in time to pierce, seal and dry the seal
    • R. Shimon ben Gamliel says that it is forbidden if there is only time to open, seal and dry the opening
  • If a Jew left a Gentile in a store with barrels of wine, even if he goes in and out, the wine is permitted
    • If he told him that he would not return in time to pierce, seal and dry, the wine is forbidden
    • R. Shimon ben Gamliel forbids it if there is only time to open, seal and dry
  • If a Jew ate with a Gentile and left flask of wine on the table and small table, the wine on the table is forbidden while the wine on the small table is permitted
  • If the Jew said, "dilute the wine and drink" then all of the wine is forbidden
  • Open barrels of wine in the house are forbidden Closed barrels are forbidden if he was away long enough to open, seal and dry
The remainder of today's daf is the start of the Gemara's conversation about this Mishna.  They define "guarded" barrels.  This leads them to a discussion about who the Gentile workers might be - how trustworthy they are and what they believe about the Jew's path, where the Jew actually goes, and whether there might be ways for the Jew to quickly return.  This is compared and contrasted with a baraita which describes how far a Jew would walk within 18 minutes to change the status of 'guarded' items.

The Gemara compares the examples of a Gentile in a store with the Gentile on a ship.  Each of these situations involves different risks, including whether or not there might be witnesses.  The rabbis wonder about whether the plug for the barrel is made of plaster or mud, which would take over a day to dry and turn white.   They consider whether or not a very small air hole might be large enough to siphon liquid from a barrel.


  1. I just want to say i admire your posts and perhaps will one day also contribute. I would like to know more about you though

    1. Thanks for your email. Daf Yomi is an interesting commitment. It is fascinating, confusing and sometimes upsetting. I encourage you to participate as well. Each of us has something to add based on our own experiences and beliefs.