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The sixth perek begins by asking “What is an aris?” We discover that the Mishnah is referring to trellised vines. We learnt previously about the debate between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel regarding the minimum number of rows of vines that constitutes a vineyard. In this Mishnah however we learn that if there are five trellised vines in a single row, then everyone agrees that it is considered a vineyard. Recall that this is important since one need only leave six tephachim from an individual vine, while one must leave a space of four amot from a vineyard before planting other produce.
The Mishnah continues by recording a debate between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel regarding the point from which the four amot space is measured. Beit Shammai maintain that it is measured from the base of the vine, while Beit Hillel argue it is measured from the fence on which the vines are trellised. The Rishonim debate regarding about which case Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel are arguing.
The Rambam1 understands that the debate is where the vines are on one side of the fence and one wants to plant on the other. That being the case, Beit Hillel present the more stringent opinion as he requires one to measure from the fence. If however one wanted to plant on the same side as the vine, then everyone agrees that the space is measure from the vines.
The Raavad however finds this position difficult as we have learnt that a fence constitutes a sufficient barrier allowing vines and produce to be planted on either side while being in close proximity. The Kesef Mishnah defends the Rambam explaining that this case is different since the vines are trellised on the fence. Consequently, the fence, according to Beit Hillel, are considered like the base of the vine.
According to the Raavad however the debate is when one wishes to plant on the same side as the vine. According to this understanding the position of Beit Hillel is lenient. The Kesef Mishnah however finds this position difficult. He argues that if, for example, the vines are planted at a distance of three amot from the fence, then according to Beit Hillel one would only be required to leave one amah from the vines prior to planting. Why would we be more stringent with respect to the wall than the vine itself? The Tosfot Chadashim suggests that when referring to the base of the vines, then it is treated like a normal case in which a single row is not considered a vineyard and only six tephachim need to be left. The aris however is recognizable from it branches, consequently the law of aris and its requirement to leave four amot is measured from the wall.
Returning to the Rambam’s explanation, a further difficulty raised is that if Beit Hillel is indeed stringent in this case, why is it not list amongst the other cases where Beit Hillel rule more stringently than Beit Shamai? (Eduyot 4). On the strength of this question, the Tifferet Yisrael takes a third position that Beit Hillel always measure from the fence, irrespective of which side one wishes to plant. This would mean that when planting on the side with the vines, Beit Hillel is indeed lenient (as reasoned by the Raavad).
The Kesef Mishnah however answers that this Mishnah is different since it continues with the position of R’ Yochanan ben Nuri who disputes whether Beit Hillel ever held this position; he explains that the measure of four amot for an aris is for a different law entirely. The Radvaz adds that it is possible that the Tana in Eduyot agreed with the position of R’ Yochanan ben Nuri.
The Mishnah Rishona finds support for the position of the Rambam in the answer he proposes to a different question. The Mishnah opened by asking “What is an aris?” without any prior reference to one.2 The Mishnah should have first mentioned the law that one needs leave four amot from an aris and then asked for the definition. The Mishnah Rishona suggests that this Mishnah is referring to an earlier one (4:7). The Mishnah there records a debate between the Tana Kama and R’ Yehuda regarding whether a fence on which a vine has been trained can still constitute a separation. Consequently, the Mishnah here is asking in which case involving an aris do the Chachamim agree with R’ Yehuda that the fence no longer constitutes a separation. In other words, the Mishnah teaches that if there are at least five vines, then everyone agrees that the fence is batel. The Mishnah Rishona reasons that this explanation suits the position of the Rambam who maintains that according to Beit Hillel a separation is required even when planting on the other side of the fence (in contrast to the Raavad).
1 As per the Rambam’s ruling in the Mishnah Torah, Kilayim 8:3, in contrast to the Rambam’s commentary to the Mishnah.
2 See the Melechet Shlomo who also asks this questions.
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