Spacing in a Vineyard

Kilayim (4:9) | Yisrael Bankier | 3 years ago

This week we made the transition from discussing kilei zerayim to kilei keremkilayim in a vineyard. There is a difference when dealing with individual vines or a vineyard. We learnt, that one must leave a distance of six tephachim prior to planting any produce near a vine. However, when considering a vineyard, a region of four amot around the vineyard (referred to avodat hakerem) is considered part of the vineyard and nothing may be planted there.

It is therefore critically important to understand when a collection of vines becomes defined as a vineyard. We have learnt that the definition relates to the number, configuration and spacing between the vines. We also learnt (4:9) that if the vines are spaced sixteen amot apart then one is able to plant other produce between the vines. The Bartenura explains that at this spacing, the vines are each treated independently and one need only leave a space of six tephachim.

The Mishnah also however includes the opinion of R’ Meir and R’ Shimon, who maintain that as long as there is eight amot between the vines, one would be able to plant in the region between the vines. The Bartenura notes that we learnt in the beginning of the perek that if a region was destroyed in the middle of the keremkarachat hakerem – the Mishnah required sixteen amot prior to planting in the region. The Bartenura explains that the difference as follows. A karachat hakerem is in an existing and established vineyard and therefore requires this extra space. In our Mishnah we are dealing with the initial configuration of a collection of vines, and according to R’ Meir and R’ Shimon spacing the vines eight amot apart is enough for them to be considered individual vines.1

In between recording these two opinions, R’ Yehuda presents an incident in Tzalmon in support of the position of the Tana Kama. An individual planted his rows of vines sixteen amot apart. Each year he would alternate the side that the branches would grow, in order to leave a large empty space in between the rows with no overhanging branches, in which he would plant produce. R’ Yehuda ends that this practices was approved by the Chachamim. The Bartenura explains the farmer behaved in this manner so that the branches would not cover the produce. What is the issue?

The Rashbam (Bava Batra 82b) explains that had the farmed not train the branches to one side, then as the branches would grow, they would reduce the space between the vines to be less than sixteen amot which would thereby prevent any produce from being planted between the vines. The Rashash understands that this is a rabbinic stringency only for the laws of kilayim. The significance of this explanation is that in the Gemara we find that if one purchases three trees in another’s field then he also acquires the land along with it. This however is only if they are not spaced two far apart. The Rashash understands that since this is a stringency for kilayim, the spreading of branches would not have an impact on property law. In other words, the spacing would be measure from the base of the trees and not the branches.

The Maharsha explains that the Tosfot also agrees that the branches reduce the space. Once the space is reduced between two row, they are defined as a vineyard. That being the case, this would still impact those regions between the rows that with no branches covering it. Since the pairs of rows are defined as a kerem, one would need to leave four amot next the vines on each side of the space and then only plant in the remaining eight amot wide region.2 The Maharsha notes that this is in contrast to the opinion of the Rash and Bartenura who maintain that only six tephachim need to be left. How do we understand their opinion?

The Tosfot HaRid argues with the position of the Rashbam. He explains that we always measure the distance from the base of the vines and the branches do no impact the spacing. Why then was the farmer particular to train the branches to one side? He explains that even if one plants produce at the required distance away from the vine, if the branches grow over the produce, it would make it assur. In other words, in this case the farmer simply wanted to maximize the space he could plant his produce without concern for issues of kilayim developing.


1 See the Rambam who rules that if the vines are spaced eight amot apart, then one need only leave six tephachim when planting between the vines, but must leave four amot when planting outside them. See the Tosfot Yom Tov.

2 The Mishnah Rishona however appears to understand that according to the Tosfot only six tephachim need to be left. Perhaps because the status stems from a stringency – see R’ Yonah.

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