QUESTION: The Mishnah states that one who makes a Neder not to eat meat is
allowed to eat the flesh of fish and Kosher locusts. RASHI (DH ha'Noder)
explains that what is included by a person's Neder depends on the way the
popular usage of the word that he used. The Mishnah is teaching that
people do not refer to fish and locusts as "Basar," meat.
The Gemara infers from the Mishnah that one who makes a Neder not to eat
meat is prohibited from eating the meat of birds. This follows the view of
Rebbi Akiva, who maintains that a specific object is considered to be
included in a general term if a Shali'ach -- who is commanded, with the
general term, to bring something -- would ask whether he should bring the
specific object. Since a Shali'ach would ask whether he should bring
poultry when commanded to bring "meat," poultry therefore is included in
the term "meat."
The RAMBAM (Hilchos Nedarim 9:6) rules, based on this, that in a place
where a Shali'ach who is told to buy "meat" might return with fish, fish
indeed is included in the term "meat." Consequently, one who makes a Neder
in that place not to eat meat is not allowed to eat fish. The Rambam adds
that in all places one who makes a Neder not to eat meat is prohibited
from eating poultry.
Why does the Rambam differentiate between fish and poultry? Why does he
say that fish is considered "meat" in a place where a Shali'ach might
bring back fish when asked to bring meat, but poultry is considered "meat"
in all places and does not depend on what the Shali'ach might bring back?
ANSWER: The CHIDUSHEI CHASAM SOFER offers an ingenious explanation, based
on the words of TOSFOS in Yevamos (71a, DH v'Hani). Tosfos writes that
where it is clear how people use a particular word, we follow the popular
usage as far as Nedarim are concerned, even if the Torah uses this word
differently. On the other hand, when the popular usage of the word is not
clear, for the purposes of Nedarim we follow the meaning of the word as it
is used by the Torah.
The Chasam Sofer proves that it is clear that the Torah uses the word
"Basar" to refer to the flesh of birds. The Torah says, "One may not eat a
Neveilah and Tereifah and become Tamei" (Vayikra 22:8). RASHI there
explains that this means that one who eats the Neveilah or Tereifah of a
Kosher species of bird becomes Tamei when he swallows it ("Tum'as Beis
ha'Beli'ah"). This proves that birds can be called "Tereifah." The Chasam
Sofer states that whenever the prohibition of Tereifah applies, the
prohibition of eating meat from a live animal also applies (see the Gemara
on 102b, where Rebbi Yochanan states that the verse, "Do not eat meat that
is torn (Tereifah) in the field" (Shemos 22:30), teaches that it is
forbidden to eat flesh that was taken from a live animal, and that it is
forbidden to eat the flesh of a Tereifah animal; see Insights there).
Accordingly, the Torah's usage of the word "Basar" also includes birds,
since the word "Basar" is used with reference to Tereifah.
(The Chasam Sofer points out that we cannot prove that "Basar" includes
birds from the verses in Parshas Beha'aloscha, which describe how the
Jewish people complained that they wanted "Basar" (Bamidbar 11:4), and
Hashem sent them quail (11:31). Perhaps the meat of birds is not
considered "Basar," and the reason Hashem sent them quail is because there
was no other meat available in the desert. It is similar to a Shali'ach
who is told to bring "Basar," and he does not find any meat and thus
returns to ask what he should bring.)
The Chasam Sofer writes that if the Torah would have said, "Do not cook
*Basar* with milk," instead of, "Do not cook a *kid* with the milk of its
mother" (Shemos 23:19, 34:26, Devarim 14:21), then all of the Tana'im
would have agreed that it is forbidden mid'Oraisa to cook poultry with
milk, and there would have been no dispute. However, since the Torah says,
"Do not cook a kid with the milk of its mother," it is obviously excluding
the meat of birds. The opinion that maintains that poultry cooked with
milk is forbidden mid'Oraisa derives this from the rule that whatever can
be forbidden as Neveilah is also forbidden to be cooked with milk (see
TOSFOS to 113a, DH Basar).
In contrast, fish are never called "Basar" by the Torah. Even in the
account of the Mabul, where the Torah says, "All *Basar* in the world
died" (Bereishis 7:21), this does not refer to the fish, because the fish
in the oceans survived (see Rashi to Bereishis 7:22).
Therefore, Rebbi Akiva maintains that since the Torah calls birds "Basar,"
and since in most places a Shali'ach would return to ask whether he should
bring poultry when asked to bring "Basar," the Halachah is that in all
places the term "Basar" includes poultry as well. In contrast, in a place
where a Shali'ach would not return to ask about fish, the term "Basar"
does not include fish, because "Basar" does not refer to fish in common
speech, nor does the Torah use "Basar" to refer to fish. Only in a place
where a Shali'ach would ask about fish when told to bring "Basar" is
"Basar" considered to include fish. (D. Bloom)
QUESTION: The Gemara relates that Rav Yitzchak, the son of Rav
Mesharsheya, ate meat after eating cheese without washing his hands. They
asked him that Agra rules that one does not need to wash his hands between
eating cheese and the meat of fowl, which implies that one does need to
wash his hands between eating cheese and the meat of an animal.
What is the Gemara's question? Agra is discussing one who eats "fowl and
cheese," in that order -- fowl first, and then cheese. Rav Yitzchak ate
cheese first, and then meat. Although, as Agra implies, one must wash his
hands after eating meat before cheese, perhaps it is not necessary to wash
when eating meat after cheese! Indeed, we find a similar leniency in the
Gemara later (105a), where the Gemara teaches that after eating meat one
must wait until the next meal before eating cheese, while after eating
cheese one may eat meat immediately. (TOSFOS DH Of)
(a) TOSFOS answers that when Agra mentions one who eats "fowl and cheese,"
he certainly is not referring to one who eats fowl first and then cheese,
because in his implied case of meat and cheese, it would not be sufficient
to wash one's hands after eating meat before eating cheese, because one
must wait until the following meal before eating cheese. Rather, Agra must
mean that there is no need to wash one's hands between fowl and cheese,
whether one eats cheese first or fowl first. This implies that between
eating meat and cheese, one must wash his hands; since Agra cannot be
referring to eating meat first and then cheese, he must be referring to
eating cheese first and then meat.
(b) According to RABEINU TAM and the BEHAG, one is permitted to eat cheese
immediately after eating meat as long as one washes his hands and rinses
his mouth. It is not necessary to wait until the following meal unless he
does not wash and rinse. According to this view, Agra still might be
referring only to eating meat first and then cheese.
Tosfos suggests that according to Rabeinu Tam, it must be that the Gemara
assumes that the order in which one eats meat and cheese does not make a
difference with regard to washing one's hands between them. In both cases,
one must wash his hands. The order makes a difference only with regard to
rinsing one's mouth.
(c) The VILNA GA'ON (YD 89:1) suggests an original answer to the question
of Tosfos. He explains that the Gemara had a tradition that Agra was
referring only to a situation in which one eats cheese before eating fowl;
in such a case one does not need to wash his hands. When one eats fowl
first and then wants to eat cheese, he must wash his hands. Accordingly,
with regard to eating cheese and the meat of an animal, one must wash his
hands even when he eats cheese first and then wants to eat meat.