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Thought for the Day: Squeezing Liquids Out Of Stuff

I don't know about you, but I can't remember the last time I plugged a wine barrel with a linen stopper.  In fact, I am pretty darn sure that I never have.  So when I saw that 320:18 started that way, I figured this will be quick.  After all, it's not the first syef in Shulchan Aruch I've ever seen, nor the first Mishna Brura I've learned.  I had a good feeling about this.  Of course, I was wrong.

That syef takes two full pages of the Mishna Brura, including eight sub-paragraphs and three juicy Bi'ur Halachas.  Why?  Because of the little bit of wine that inevitably gets squeezed out of the cloth when the barrel is either stoppered or unstoppered.  That, friend, is the issur of s'chita.  Note, however, that s'chita is not one of the 39.  There's a bit of a machlokes about what the problem really is, and whether/under what conditions it is d'oraiso or d'rabanan.  We'll talk about that anon.  Then there is that "inevitably", aka "p'sik reisha" business.  If you don't catch the ungesquozen liquid in a bowl, then it's "p'sik reisha sh'lo nicha lei"/inevitable consequence that results in no benefit.  We aren't going to talk about that anon.

The confusion surrounding the precise malacha being violated, says Rabeinu Tam, is because it depends.  If the liquid under consideration is water (or even white wine, according to the T"az), then the squeezing results in cleaning the linen... the malacha is laudering/libun.  In that case, it really doesn't matter of you catch the liquid or not; the malacha was done once the squeezing started.

If, on the other hand, the liquid is something else, then the issur is actually a g'zeira because of m'farek -- removing a liquid from it's protective container.  However, if you don't catch the liquid, then is doesn't look like m'farek at all.  In that case, Rabeinu Tam says it is mutar l'chatchila.  Others, however, consider it still a g'zeira; basically, "lo plug"/we don't make such fine distinctions in g'zeiros.

So you can go from a real, live issur d'oraiso that would obligate one in a korban chatas, to assur m'd'rabanan, to mutar l'chatchila just with very little warning.  Something to think about when you are the sixth person washing and that hand towel is getting pretty wet...

Have a good Shabbos!

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