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Thought for the Day: More on Spoons in Pots, This Time With חנ''ן!

You should never stick a milchig spoon into a bubbling pot of cholent.  But in case it does happen, you know can always refer to the TftD on that topic understand the issues.  I even covered the case for both s'fardim and ashkenazim.  I only mentioned the case of sticking the same spoon in twice, since that's the case of the Shulchan Aruch.  A chaver of mine noted that two is not just an example, but is the max.  My first thought was that he was mistaken.  Before I replied, though, I decided to investigate further.  I did and I found that my first thought that he was mistaken was actually mistaken.  Hence today's TftD.

Where did my mistake start?  The comparison to the t'ruma case.  T'ruma, the mishna tells us is בטל in 100 (not 60).  Suppose you have 100 oz of Kedem grape juice and 10 oz of t'ruma grape juice.  If you drop one oz of t'ruma into the bottle of Kedem, no problem; it's בטל.  Now suppose you drop another 1 oz in there; then it depends.  If you realized your mistake before the second oz, then you still have no problem; the first oz is בטל and so the second oz of t'ruma just fell into 100 oz of Kedem.  However, if you didn't know between times, then you now have 2 oz of t'ruma in the Kedem and that most certainly is not בטל.  Clearly that logic would apply to 3, 4, 5, 98, 103, etc oz; once you realize the mistake, then the rule of בטל is applied immediately.  If you are good to go, you are good to go.

I found no problem with the fact that the Shulchan Aruch mentioned two dippings specifically, since that's the common case.  I looked at the Ta''z and was gratified to see that he elaborated that dipping twice without intervening knowledge is just like dipping two spoons.  Still tracking and feeling goood.  Then I looked at the Sha''ch, who said: notice that the Ta''z says two specifically and not just two; that's because at worst you have to consider the spoon as doubly dipped, but not more.  Ah... so I was wrong.  Thank you , Yossi.  Now... why was I wrong?

To understand that, we need one more concept: חתיכה נעשית נבילה/the whole chunk becomes a piece of forbidden food; a concept more usually denoted by simply, חנ''ן.  It works like this.  Suppose you have 59 oz of hot meat juice into which one oz of milk is thoroughly mixed.  You now have 60 oz of the forbidden food known as milk and meat, not just one or two ounces.  Everyone agrees to that.  Suppose though, that you have one ounce of pork juice that falls into that microvat of 59 oz of hot meat juice.  In that case the pork is not בטל, so you have 60 oz of meat/pork juice that you forbidden to eat.  However, whether you have 60 oz of forbidden food is a matter of disagreement; the Shulchan Aruch says no, the Rema says yes.  The difference is what happens if that blob falls into a vat of another 60 oz of meat juice.  According to the Shulchan Aruch you have one oz of pork juice in 119 oz of meat juice; clearly and definitively בטל.  According to the Rema, though, you have 60 oz of forbidden meat juice (חנ''ן means the entire mass actually becomes the forbidden food as far as halacha is concerned) in 60 oz of meat juice -- not בטל, and even worse, you now have 120 oz of forbidden meat/pork juice.

Back to our spoon.  The first time that the spoon goes into the cholent, it leaks milk and absorbs meat.  At that point -- because of חנ''ן -- the absorbed milk taste in the spoon becomes that forbidden food known as milk and meat.  On the second -- and subsequent dippings -- the spoon can't get worse, it's considered a chunk of forbidden meat/milk.  Since we are already being very stringent in considering the entire spoon to be a chunk of forbidden food (and not just the amount actually absorbed), the Shulchan Aruch stops at needing double the volume for ביטול; one for the milk exuded on the first dipping, one for the milk/meat stuff exuded on the second dipping.  If it is בטל after two, then you can stir and dip to your heart's content, the cholent will remain kosher.  (Yeah... try that with you wife watching.)

One more thing... why is the Rema -- who is stringent to say חנ''ן on any forbidden substance -- all of the sudden so lenient, requiring only one times the volume for ביטול?  The Sha''ch says that basically the Rema is combining two facts: (1) saying חנ''ן on absorbed food is already a stringency, (2) the second dipping is often in a second degree vessel which has cooled off a bit.

I learn so much more when I am wrong.  Baruch HaShem, I get plenty of opportunities to learn!


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