One must keep a distance of six tefachim between rows of different vegetables planted in same field (2:10). The Mishnah states that if however one wants to plant rows of pumpkins/gourds in a field containing other vegetables, that one must leave a greater distance due to the nature of the gourd’s branches and leaves, which are long and can become entangled in the produce alongside it.
The distance that one must leave is debated when discussing a case where one wishes to plant some gourds in a field with rows of onions (3:6). R’ Yishmael maintains that one must remove 2 rows of onions and plant 1 row of gourds in that space. Since each row generally took up 4 amot of space this effectively leaves 2 amot on each side of the newly planted seeds1. He also requires that two rows of onions be left before another row of gourds can be introduced. This leaves 12 amot between one row of newly planted gourd and the next.2 R’Akiva holds that one may plant two rows of pumpkins in the area vacated by the 2 rows of uprooted onions and then leave two rows of onions prior planting another row of gourds, leaving 8 amot between the 2 rows of pumpkins. The Chachamim agree with aspects of both R’Yishmael’s and R’Akiva’s opinions. The Chachamim requires a space of 12 amot between the 2 rows of newly planted gourds (like R’Yishmael), however, they also side with R’Akiva and maintain that one does not need to leave a 2 amot gap between the onion and pumpkin rows. One must only maintain the usual distance (that of a ‘telem’’/ditch) that is required between the gourds and onions.
This Mishnah seems puzzling in light of another Mishnah learnt earlier (3:4) – which states that one is permitted to plant two rows of kishuim, two rows of pumpkins/gourds and two rows of pol hamitzri with only the space of a ditch between them. This is because each of the vegetable rows appear as if they were a independent fields, and there is a recognition that there is no kilayim. This seems to be contradictory with the Mishnah learnt above, regarding distance between onions and gourds.
There are two answers for this question brought in the Yerushalmi. One of these maintains that this Mishnah requiring only the distance of a ditch between rows is the opinion of R’ Akiva who, in our Mishnah, allows one to plant onions and gourds with the minimum amount of space between the 2 species. The other answer explains that all Tannaim agree in that Mishnah, because the gourd, kishuyim (cucumbers) and pol hamitzri all have long leaves which are distinguishable one from another, so there is no need for the larger distance as is required in the case of the onion and gourd.
Another answer solves the apparent contradiction by stating that they are referring to two separate cases. When uprooting existing produce to introduce another, one must be more stringent than when planting in the first instance. In a field that has not been planted yet, it has not been designated or recognised as belonging to a particular seed, and in that case there is enough of a heker between species by leaving only a ditch.
Interestingly, the Mishnah Rishona has an alternative explanation to reconcile the contradiction. R’ Akiva He mentions that the beginning of the Mishnah(3:4) aligns with the opinion of R’ Akiva who holds that one is able to plant 2 rows of gourds next to 2 rows of another plant. However the seifa of that same Mishnah (3:4) states that if one plants 1 row of kishuyim,one row of gourd/pumpkin and one row of pol hamitzri (with only a telem’s distance between each) it is assur. According to Mishnah Rishona, this is the opinion of R’ Yishmael and Chachamim that require a gap of 12 amot between repeating rows. Therefore each Tanna believe the Mishnah is teaching different points.
The Rash in his commentary of the original Mishnah states that according to all Tannaim, one must remove 2 rows of onions, and then dig up ‘borot´ and then plant the gourds. According to this explanation, we can no longer answer the contradiction between the 2 mishnayot by stating that the Mishnah which permits planting 2 rows of differing vegetables to be in accordance with the opinion of R’ Akiva (first answer of the Yerushalmi). This is because all Tannaim (even R’ Akiva) would hold that when uprooting onions and planting gourds one requires ‘borot’ which are not required in the earlier Mishnah(which requires only a ‘telem’ between each row). The Mishnah Rishona answers this problem by stating that the Rash maintained a difference between planting 2 rows and a whole field. When planting a field (as is done when uprooting the onions) one requires more distance – however the earlier Mishnah(which only requires a telem) is only referring to planting 2 rows, and thus is not as stringent.
1 One must also leave a ‘ditch’ on both sides of each row, to maintain a distance with the row alongside it.
2 This is due to the fact that there is 2 amot of space next to the row of gourds then 2 existing rows of onions (8 amot) and another two amot of space before the next row of gourds is planted (ie. This single row has also replaced 2 rows of onions)
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