1) THINGS WHICH GROW FROM THE GROUND
QUESTION: The Gemara cites several Beraisos which discuss the types of item which a hired laborer may or may not eat while he works with them. The first Beraisa derives from the verse (Devarim 25:4) that a laborer may eat only items which grow from the ground. Accordingly, a laborer who is milking a cow, making milk curdle, or pressing the curds into cheese is not entitled to eat the foods with which he is working.
It is clear from the Gemara that milk is not considered something that grows from the ground ("Gidulei Karka"). However, the Gemara in Eruvin (27b) derives from the verse that when one buys food in Yerushalayim with money of Ma'aser Sheni, the money must be used to buy only food items that were produced from other food items and that are "Gidulei Karka." The Gemara there says that this includes animals, since they are produced from other animals and they are considered "Gidulei Karka" since their nourishment comes from the ground. Why does the Gemara here imply that animals are not "Gidulei Karka"? (TOSFOS and TOSFOS SHANTZ cited by the Shitah Mekubetzes)
ANSWER: TOSFOS (DH Gidulei Karka) answers that the Gemara here uses the term "Gidulei Karka" only in reference to things that actually grow out of the ground, as implied by the word in the verse which the Gemara is expounding -- "Dayish," threshing, which applies only to actual produce of the ground. The Gemara in Eruvin uses the same term, "Gidulei Karka," with a different connotation. There, the term refers to anything which obtains nourishment from the ground or from produce that grows in the ground.
The verse of Ma'aser Sheni states that the money may be used to buy "cattle, sheep, wine, or beverage" (Devarim 14:26), and the Gemara explains that the common denominator of these things is that they are "Gidulei Karka." The Gemara uses that terminology in its broader sense to refer even to things that receive their nourishment from the ground. With regard to the food that a laborer may eat while he works, the verse says "Dayish," and the Gemara therefore excludes items which cannot be considered "Dayish," such as animals, which do not actually grow out of the ground. (I. Alsheich)
2) THE POINT AT WHICH DOUGH IS OBLIGATED IN "CHALAH"
QUESTION: The Gemara cites several Beraisos which discuss what type of items a hired laborer may not eat while he works with them. The last Beraisa states that a laborer may eat the fruit only as long as it has not been processed to the point that it is obligated in Chalah ("Lo Nigmar Melachto l'Chalah"). This excludes dough that is being kneaded, rounded, or baked.
Kneading ("Lash") comes before the process of rounding the dough ("Mekatef") and baking it ("Ofeh"). Once the Beraisa states that a laborer who is kneading dough may not eat from it because it has reached a point of "Nigmar Melachto l'Chalah," why does the Beraisa need to add the two later procedures?
ANSWER: TOSFOS and the RITVA answer that the reason why the Beraisa mentions "Ofeh," baking, is that it is possible to bake dough without kneading it first. When the flour is mixed with a lot of water such that it becomes very thin, it does not need to be kneaded. The Beraisa must teach that dough which is baked before kneading becomes obligated in Chalah without the process of kneading.
Why, though, does the Beraisa mention the Melachah of "Mekatef," rounding the dough, if that Melachah must always be preceded by kneading? Tosfos leaves this question unanswered.
The RITVA and TOSFOS RABEINU PERETZ answer that since the Tana mentions "Lash" and "Ofeh," he also mentions "Mekatef," even though it is not necessary to mention it. The TOSFOS HA'ROSH writes that the Tana is describing the "order of preparation of bread," and thus he mentions "Mekatef" even though it is not necessary.
The Acharonim ask why the Rishonim do not ask a similar question on the first Beraisa that the Gemara quotes. The Beraisa derives from the verse (Devarim 25:4) that a laborer may eat only from items which grow from the ground. Thus, the Beraisa continues, a laborer who is milking a cow, making milk curdle, or pressing the curds into cheese is not entitled to eat the foods with which he is working. There, too, the question arises: why does the Beraisa mention the two later procedures, if milking a cow must come before them?
The TORAS CHAIM answers that the Rishonim's question does not apply at all to the earlier Beraisa. That Beraisa merely lists procedures that do not involve things that grow from the ground. Hence, it lists milking along with cheese-making. In the later Beraisa, though, the Beraisa teaches the point at which dough becomes obligated in Chalah, and thus it is unnecessary to mention stages that take place only after the dough has already become obligated in Chalah. (I. Alsheich)
3) MAKING THE FRUIT TASTIER
QUESTION: Rava concludes that when the Beraisa says that a laborer may dip his fruit into salt, it refers to when he eats one fruit at a time and he and his employer did not stipulate a specific number of fruits that he may eat. In such a case, his act of dipping the fruit into salt does not establish an obligation to separate Ma'aser. However, when the laborer eats two fruits at a time, he may not dip them into salt because doing so makes the fruit obligated in Ma'aser. If, however, the laborer and the employer agreed on a specific number of fruits that the laborer may eat, then he may not eat two even if he does not dip them into salt.
The Gemara earlier (89a) discusses the question of whether a laborer is permitted to scorch the fruit (to make it tastier) and eat it, or whether he is prohibited from scorching the fruit just as he is prohibited from eating it with another condiment. Rava's statement seems to resolve this question of the Gemara. Dipping the fruit in salt (to make it tastier) is akin to scorching it with a flame and is, in fact, even more similar to eating it with a condiment. Thus, if the laborer is permitted to dip the fruit in salt, he certainly should be permitted to scorch it. Why, then, does the Gemara not answer its question based on Rava's statement?
(a) TOSFOS (DH Po'el) cites RABEINU TAM who answers that the Gemara never questions whether a laborer may scorch fruit that is completely edible in its present state; that is obviously permitted, because it merely enhances the taste of the fruit. The Gemara asks its question only with regard to fruit that is barely edible in its present state, which will become completely edible if the laborer scorches it. In such a case, is the act of scorching fruit like eating it with other condiments, since the scorching enables the laborer to eat a lot of the fruit, or is the act of scorching fruit (that is barely edible) permitted just as one may scorch fruit that is fully edible? Rava's statement, however, deals with whether one may salt fruit that is already fully edible, and therefore Rava's words provide no answer to the Gemara's original question.
(b) RASHI, however, understands that the Gemara's earlier question deals with scorching fruit even when the fruit is fully edible. TOSFOS therefore offers another answer (which is also the approach of the RAMBAN in Milchamos and the RITVA). Rava's statement refers specifically to a case in which the employer gives explicit permission to the laborer to eat the fruit. In such a case, the laborer may dip the fruit in salt even though doing so will cause him to eat more. However, Rava's ruling does not imply that the laborer is permitted to scorch the fruit in a case in which the employer did not expressly permit the laborer to eat the fruit (even though the Torah entitles the laborer to eat the fruit even without the employer's permission).
(c) The BA'AL HA'ME'OR disagrees with Tosfos and asserts that the Gemara's question indeed is answered by Rava's ruling. According to Rava, a laborer may scorch the fruit, just as a laborer may dip the fruit into salt. (I. Alsheich)