Taste, 60, and Rov – A Chart on Bittul

 Over the last few days, we have been learning one of the most central sugyot on the topics of טעם כעיקר and ביטול.  The first of these principles states that the taste of non-kosher foods is considered like the food itself.  This means that if a piece of pork falls into a cooking stew and is then removed, the stew will be forbidden if it has the taste of pork in it.  This is why we need kosher dishes, and different dishes for meat and milk.

The second principle states that there are times when non-kosher foods, even if fully present, can be considered to be nullified and no longer forbidden.  This can normally happen (Biblically) when there is a majority – רוב – of kosher foods (in dry mixtures, more in number; in liquid mixtures, the majority of the volume).  However, when there is taste – the forbidden food tastes different than the kosher food, and it is a liquid-type mixture where the taste disperses throughout – then it is Biblically forbidden because of טעם כעיקר.  Rabinically we require 60 (a stand-in for taste) in cases which are similar to the Biblical one of טעם כעיקר.  The only case we do not require it for, and can use the principle of רוב even Rabbinically, is when it is a dry mixture of same-tasting items.  In this case, there is no possibility of taste or of dispersing taste throughout a mixture, and thus רוב suffices (See Hullin 99b-100a, and Tosafot 100a, s.v. Biryah).  

The chart below summarizes these principles.

Nullification – ביטול – based on Mixture Type
  Mixed Solids (יבש ביבש) Mixed Liquids – Full Dispersion (לח בלח)
Same Taste (מין במינו) Majority (רוב)  Majority (רוב) Biblically
It all tastes the same.

60 times Rabbinically
It is similar to the case of different tastes (below)

Different Tastes (מין באינו מינו) Majority (רוב) Biblically
No taste is dispersed.

60 times Rabbinically
There are different tastes present and it is similar to the case of liquid mixtures (right)

Taste or 60 times Biblically
The taste of the non-kosher item spreads throughout and is forbidden


About Rabbi Dov Linzer

Rabbi Dov Linzer is the Rosh HaYeshiva and Dean of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School, a groundbreaking Orthodox smicha program. Rabbi Linzer spearheaded the development of YCT to create an innovative four year smicha program which provides its students with rigorous talmud Torah and halakhic study and sophisticated professional training in the context of a religious atmosphere which cultivates openness and inclusiveness. Rabbi Linzer has published Halakha and machshava articles in Torah journals and lectures widely at synagogues and conferences on topics relating to Halakha, Orthodoxy, and modernity. He is most recently the awardee of the prestigious Avi Chai Fellowship.
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