For the week ending 1 October 2011 / 2 Tishri 5772

Chullin 100 - 106

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • When a piece of forbidden nevailah meat is cooked together with kosher pieces
  • If gid hanasheh prohibition applies to non-kosher animals
  • When did the ban on gid hanasheh begin
  • Is there a prohibition to eat flesh from a live non-kosher animal
  • How thought can affect the status of a forbidden food
  • Is one guilty of violating a prohibition when eating forbidden food which is already forbidden under another category
  • Does forbidden food stuck between the teeth count as part of the amount for which there is a punishment
  • The prohibition against mixing meat with milk
  • Which meats come under this Torah prohibition
  • Chicken and cheese on the same table
  • Waiting between meat and milk meals
  • Washing hands before and after meals
  • Evil spirits and black magic
  • Which waters are kosher for mitzvah of washing hands

Washing Hands Before and After Meal

Washing hands before a meal is a mitzvah and washing them at the end of the meal is an obligation.

This statement by Rabbi Idi bar Avin in the name of Rabbi Yitzchak bar Ashyan begs an explanation as to the difference between a mitzvah and an obligation since we are commanded by our Sages to do both.

Tosefot cites the explanation of Rabbeinu Tam based on a gemara (Mesechta Eiruvin 17a) which mentions washing hands as one of the things soldiers engaged in war are exempt from. The Sage Abaye qualifies this exemption by ruling that it applies only to washing before the meal but not to washing them after the meal. The reason for this is that Rabbi Chiya has pointed out that the need for washing hands after the meal is to cleanse any Sodomite salt which may have clung to the fingers and which can cause blindness. Since this washing is for health protection, it cannot be dispensed with even in time of war.

This, concludes Tosefot, is the distinction between a mitzvah and an obligation. The obligation to protect the eyes is inviolable.

An added dimension to this distinction is provided by the Sefer Halachot Gedolot. We are required to make a blessing upon washing the hands before a meal but not before washing afterwards. This is so because the latter washing is not for a religious purpose but rather for human welfare.

  • Chullin 105a

What the Sages Say

"In regard to this matter (how long to wait between meat and dairy meals) I compare to my father like vinegar compares to wine."

  • The Sage Shmuel - Chullin 105a

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