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Bais HaVaad on the Parsha, Parshas Emor

Meat Packing

May 23, 2024

Excerpted and adapted from a shiur by Dayan Yitzhak Grossman


When you make a sale to your fellow or make a purchase from the hand of your fellow, do not aggrieve one another.

Vayikra 25:14

The Mishnah in Bava Metzia says that this prohibition, al tonu, refers to ona’as mamon (monetary fraud). The Gemara offers examples of practices forbidden to sellers: diluting wine, making an animal look to be of higher quality than it is, and soaking meat in water to make it look fresher than it is. The seller may only do these things if he informs the buyer of the item’s true condition. The Gemara says that wine may be diluted where it is the standard practice to sell it that way.

The Sma says the standard-practice dispensation also applies to the other modifications the Gemara mentions. The Shulchan Aruch HaRav cites the Sma but says that shomer nafsho yirchak mizeh (one who guards his soul should distance himself from this), because a buyer may still be misled by the item’s appearance.

The Divrei Malkiel goes further than the Shulchan Aruch HaRav and rules that a seller may not soak meat even where that is common practice. He says this differs from diluting wine, because in that case, every buyer will know precisely how much water is present based upon the custom, but a buyer cannot discern the true quality of soaked meat.[1]

[1]R’ Moshe Feinstein appears to take the side of the Sma, permitting butchers to soak liver in blood to give it a fresher appearance if that is standard practice, though his analysis is slightly more complex than the Sma’s.

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