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A GENERAL RULE ON DOUBTFUL CASES:
כל קבוע כמחצה על מחצה דמי . – זבחים ע"ג, ב
If a person bought a piece of meat in a public place, or in a marketplace, where there were both Jewish and non-Jewish shopkeepers that sold meat, and he later forgot from which shop he had bought the meat (whether from the "kosher" shops or the "non-kosher" shops in the marketplace), even though the majority of shops that sold meat in the marketplace belonged to Jewish vendors, the meat is to be considered "carrion" and forbidden unto Jews for consumption. One does not say
that since the majority of shops belong to Jews, the meat must therefore, in
all-probability, belong to a Jewish vendor. Rather, here, the Sages have taught
us a general rule when judging doubtful cases where the buyer could not remember from which shop he had purchased the meat. The case rests with whether or not he had purchased the meat from a permanently fixed stall or structure - for example, when there may have been NINE Jewish shops that sold meat and only ONE non-Jewish shop that sold meat in the same marketplace, all of which are permanent structures, or he had simply stumbled across meat that had fallen from one of these shops. The general rule is this: "Whatsover is
permanently fixed [when the doubtful case occurred], [the thing in question] is
to be considered as though it had come equally from both sides" (lit.
"half and half"), or what is deemed as meat that had been purchased
from five Jewish shopkeepers and five non-Jewish shopkeepers alike, without any
consideration for the majority. Being then a doubtful case, and being a thing
which, the Torah prohibits eating if it had been butchered by a non-Jew, the
case is acted upon stringently, and the meat is discarded or thrown to the
dogs. However, if the meat had fallen from one of the ten shops and someone
stumbled across it, not knowing from which shop it had fallen, the meat is
PERMITTED, seeing that "whatsoever comes out of a mixed multitude is
presumed to have come from the majority" (כל דפריש
מרובא פריש) - Zev. 73a, meaning, the discovered meat had fallen away from
one of the nine "kosher" shops (the majority), and can be eaten by
In the first case, it is not "Besar Hane'alam min ha-'ayin" (meat that has gone out of sight, and where there is a concern that a ravenous bird may have brought the meat from afar), since the meat was bought by a Jew and remained in his possession. His only problem is that he doesn't remember where he bought the meat, therefore it CANNOT be eaten since it is tantamount to a doubtful case with equal possibilities. In the second case, this would depend. If the marketplace was teeming with people and there happened to be some confusion in the stalls which caused the meat of one shopkeeper to be mixed up with the meat of a non-Jewish shopkeeper, here we don't say it was "Besar Hane'alam min ha-'ayin," but rather, meat that becomes permitted for consumption because of the rule: כל דפירש מרובא פירש – Zev. 73a (that in all-probability, the meat is from the "kosher" shop, being that they were the majority).
For your information: The above ruling is found stated explicitly in Maimonides' Code of Jewish Law (Hil. Ma'akhaloth Asuroth 8:11). The source for "Whatsover is permanently fixed [when the doubtful case occurred], [the thing in question] is to be considered as though it had come equally from both sides" (lit. "half and half"), is the Babylonian Talmud, Zevahim 73b, as also Yoma 84b, Sanhedrin 79a and Baba Kama 44b. The example given of nine "kosher" shops and one "non-kosher" shop is brought down in a Boraitta, and either quoted or alluded to in several places in the Babylonian Talmud (e.g. Hullin 95a, Pesahim 9b, Niddah 18a, Ketubboth 16 a, et al.). The ruling is also contained in the Mechaber's Shulchan Arukh, Yoreh De'ah 110:3.