1) THE CHEESE OF NOCHRIM
OPINIONS: The Gemara discusses the Mishnah's statement (29b) that one may not eat the cheese of Nochrim. Rebbi Yehoshua ben Levi says that the reason for this prohibition is the concern that a poisonous snake might have inserted poison into the cheese. Rebbi Yirmeyah asks that this cannot be the reason because, according to this reason, hard cheese and old cheese should be permitted, just as hardened wine and old wine are permitted, since they cannot become hard and old with poison in them. Rebbi Chanina (according to some texts, Rebbi Yirmeyah himself) answers that it is impossible for the cheese not to have some remnants of milk left in it.
To what does Rebbi Chanina refer when he says that it is impossible that the cheese does not have remnants of milk left in it? Why should remnants of milk prohibit the cheese?
(a) RASHI (DH l'Fi) states that Rebbi Chanina is giving a new reason for the prohibition of cheese of Nochrim. He is saying that between the cracks of the cheese there always remains some milk that was milked by the Nochrim who made the cheese. Cheese manufactured by Nochrim without the supervision of a Jew is prohibited, because the Nochri might have added milk from a non-kosher animal, which the Torah prohibits (see Bechoros 6b). Rashi continues and says that milk from a non-kosher animal does not harden, and if it is mixed with the milk of a kosher animal it separates into the whey (the liquid part of the cheese, or "Nisyovei d'Chalva") which remains in the cracks of the cheese. (See also the RAMBAM and MAGID MISHNEH (Hilchos Ma'achalos Asuros 3:15) who explain that this is also the reason given by "some of the Ge'onim.")
(b) TOSFOS has difficulty with Rashi's explanation. Why would a Nochri farmer mix non-kosher milk into his cheese, when he knows that the non-kosher milk will not bond with the kosher milk to produce the cheese, but rather it will remain as a residual substance? Tosfos quotes RABEINU TAM who explains that this answer (of Rebbi Yirmeyah, according to Rabeinu Tam's Girsa) is not a new reason for the prohibition. Rather, he is answering that even if the cheese is old or hard, there still might be some poison from the snake between the cracks of the cheese that one might not notice. The RI cites a proof from the Yerushalmi, in which the answer given there is explicitly expressed the way Rabeinu Tam explains it according to the Gemara here.
Based on this explanation, Rabeinu Tam rules that when there is no other Kashrus problem involved, one is permitted to eat the cheese of Nochrim today, because there no longer is a need to be concerned about the problem of poisonous snakes, since they are not common.
The MORDECHAI (#826) quotes a Teshuvah of Rabeinu Tam (as Tosfos alludes to in DH d'Ha) in which he rules that the cheese of Nochrim is permitted. Rabeinu Tam qualifies this ruling and says that it is permitted only when the Nochrim milk the animal for the purpose of making it into cheese. When the milk is intended to be used as milk, it becomes prohibited due to the decree against drinking unsupervised milk of Nochrim (which is prohibited because of the concern that the Nochrim add non-kosher milk), and once the milk has become prohibited, it remains prohibited. If a person has some cheese made by Nochrim and is not sure what the intent of the Nochrim was when the milk was made, he may be lenient and eat the cheese.
RAV MOSHE FEINSTEIN zt'l (in IGROS MOSHE YD 1:49) points out that there is a logical, although not Halachic, difference between the opinion of Rabeinu Tam as it is expressed by Tosfos and as it is expressed by the Mordechai. In Tosfos, Rabeinu Tam's opinion is based on the fact that there is no reason why the Nochri cheesemaker would put non-kosher milk in his cheese if he knows that it would not become cheese. In the Mordechai, Rabeinu Tam's opinion addresses the possibility that a Nochri cheesemaker might indeed add non-kosher milk to the cheese. This could happen in a case in which the cheesemaker decides to make his cheese with milk that was originally intended for drinking. Rabeinu Tam does not prohibit the cheese based on this reason, because it is not mentioned in the Gemara, Bavli or Yerushalmi, as a reason to prohibit the cheese. This also answers the question that Tosfos asks on the view of Rashi, for this situation provides a very possible case in which one might have non-kosher milk in his cheese.
The CHASAM SOFER (Teshuvos, YD 7) gives a different answer to Tosfos' question on Rashi's explanation. He says that when the Chachamim prohibited milk from a kosher animal that was milked by a Nochri without Jewish supervision, they prohibited it in cheese as well, as long as it remains in a liquid form. Hence, if the cheese is totally hard, then it is not prohibited, since the milk is no longer in a liquid form and the prohibition of Nochri milk no longer applies. The problem arises when there is some Nochri milk left between the cracks of the cheese which still retains the status of prohibited Nochri milk. The Chasam Sofer concludes that "any eye that sees can see" that this is the opinion of Rashi.
However, the CHAZON ISH (YD 41:4) and IGROS MOSHE (ibid.) point out that it is difficult to use this approach to explain the words of Rashi. As mentioned above, Rashi clearly states that some non-kosher milk might be left in the cracks of the cheese, and not that kosher milk that was milked by a Nochri was left in the cheese.
The SEDER YAKOV answers the Chazon Ish's question. Rashi is explaining why we still must worry about Nochri milk in the cheese. If the reason why Nochri milk is prohibited does not apply to cheese (since it has been totally transformed), then why should that prohibition pose a problem to eating the Nochri cheese? Rashi explains, therefore, that there is some milk left in the cracks of the cheese. We must now be concerned about Nochri milk for the same reason that ordinary milk produced by Nochrim is prohibited -- because some non-kosher milk might be mixed with it. This non-kosher milk would not be totally mixed with the cheese, therefore retaining its status of Isur. Once it is possible that non-kosher milk could find its way into the cheese, Rashi understands that all of the kosher milk (made by Nochrim) in the cheese is also a problem, because it retains its status of Nochri milk, and is prohibited. (Y. MONTROSE)
2) AGADAH: A TALMID CHACHAM IS LIKE A FLASK OF PERFUME
QUESTION: Rav Nachman brei d'Rav Chisda explains that the verse, "For the smell of your good oils" (Shir ha'Shirim 1:3), refers to a Talmid Chacham, who is like a flask of perfume in a number of ways. The aroma of a flask of perfume is only noticed when it is open, but not when it is closed. Moreover, things that are covered and not accessible to other people are -- to a Talmid Chacham -- revealed and accessible.
How are these characteristics of a flask of perfume manifest in a Talmid Chacham?
(a) RASHI explains that just as the exquisite smell of a flask of perfume is recognized only when the lid is open, so, too, a Talmid Chacham is recognized only when he teaches Torah to others. Moreover, when he teaches Torah to others, he merits to have the hidden aspects of Torah revealed to him without exerting extra effort.
The BEN YEHOYADA explains that this is "Midah k'Neged Midah," a reward measure for measure. Since the teacher of Torah opens the hearts of the masses to the Torah, Hash-m opens his heart to understand things that were previously hidden from him.
This may also be one of the meanings behind Rebbi's statement in Makos (10a), "I learned much Torah from my teachers, and more from my colleagues, and from my students I learned most of all." In the merit of teaching Torah to students, Hash-m reveals hidden aspects of Torah to the person that he otherwise would not have merited to comprehend (see Insights to Makos 10:1).
(b) TOSFOS says that the additional benefit of having hidden aspects revealed to him does not refer to understanding Torah. Rather, this refers to the secrets of men, which are normally hidden from others. Since this person has become recognized as a Torah scholar through his teaching, people reveal to him their innermost secrets in order to seek his advice. Tosfos points out that this is the meaning of the Mishnah in Avos (1:6) which says, "Make for yourself a Rav." Tosfos apparently learns that the Mishnah there does not refer to making for oneself a Rav in order to learn Torah from him (as RASHI, the RAMBAM, and RABEINU YONAH explain there), but rather in order to seek advice and personal guidance from him.
The DIKDUKEI SOFRIM explains that Tosfos explains the Gemara this way because Tosfos has a different Girsa in the Gemara. The text of the Gemara according to his Girsa reads, "People who are hidden reveal themselves to him." Tosfos understands that this refers to the secrets and private circumstances of people which are revealed only to this Talmid Chacham. (The printer of the Gemara mistakenly omitted the Girsa of Tosfos from Tosfos' words.) (Y. MONTROSE)