Unwanted Mixtures

Kilayim (2:5) | Yisrael Bankier | 3 years ago

The Mishnah (2:5) lists three cases where there are mixtures of different species growing together, yet one is not obligated to weed out the foreign species. The first case is where the after growth of woad presents itself in a field of produce. The second is where there are many different species growing in the area used for threshing. The final case is where tzemachim (several species) begin to grow amongst tiltan (fenugreek). We shall try to understand the leniency in these cases.

The Bartunera explains that the Chachamim did not require their removal since ultimately they will be removed anyway. The woad and tzemachim are damaging and the threshing floor will need to be cleared to create a hard surface. The Tosfot Yom Tov notes that this is also the opinion of Rashi (Bava Kama 81a).

The Tosfot Yom Tov however cites the Tosfot who find this explanation difficult. Firstly, when the Mishnah states that we do not obligate the farmer to uproot the other species, it implies that if it is left there indefinitely, there is no issur hana’ah1. Furthermore, we will learn (5:6) that if one sees a vegetable that has grown in his vineyard without his knowledge, he can say, when I reach that point I will remove it. Since he has not delayed unnecessarily and expressed his intent to removed it, even if it grows a further two-hundredth in size, it is permitted. If however he says that he will come back to it later, if it grows that small amount it is prohibited. He has expressed a level of yiush and has therefore maintained kilayim in his field – the issue of makayem kilayim. The Tosfot therefore asks that in this case as well, if the owner neglected cleaning the area it should surely become assur as he has maintained kilayim.

Citing the Ri, the Tosfot explains that he is not obligated to intervene since even if the other species were left, there would be no issue of kilayim. Firstly, he did not plant them these other species. Secondly, even though there is a prohibition of maintaining kilayim in one’s field, it would not apply since the secondary species are detrimental.

The Chazon Ish explains that the Tosfot does not mean that since it is detrimental it is not considered mekayem kilayim. Yet, if he did an overt action, like watering the mixture then it would be a problem. Instead, the Ri means that since the mixture is detrimental, it is not considered kilayim at all. Consequently, one would even be allowed to water the area.2

Perhaps this distinction helps us then to understand the position of Rashi. We may suggest that from Rashi’s perspective, this issue is being mekayem kilayim. In the later Mishnah, when the mixed area was not detrimental, a deliberate delay was tantamount to being mekayem. In this case however, according to Rashi, since it is clear the owner wants to remove it, there is no urgency in forcing him to do so as any delay will not be perceived as being mekayem. Indeed, in defending this position against the question of the Tosfot, the Rashba also differentiates between the two Mishnayot. He explains that in the later Mishnah, if the owner delays, there is a real concern the he will be lazy and neglect in doing so. In our case however, the owner would be eager to remove tzemachim in order that it not damage his tiltan. Again, it appears that he understands that the issue is being mekayim kilayim. Following the explanation of the Chazon Ish, according to this line of reasoning, an overt action to maintain the mixture (e.g. watering the area) would be prohibited.


1 Issur hana’ah means that the mixture become prohibited and one may not gain any benefit from the mixture.

The Tosfot Yom Tov explains that the Tosfot must be holding like the position of the Rashbam since according to other opinions, it only kilei kerem (in a vineyard) and not kilei zerayim that become assur be’hana’ah.

The Rashash argues that the Tosfot rejects the Rashbam’s position and there is no issur hana’ah on kilei zerayim. Therefore, the Rashash explains that the Tosfot should not be read as “ein issur be’hanaato”, but rather “ein issur be’hanachto”. In other words, Tosfot’s question is that the Mishnah implies that there is no prohibition in leaving the mixture there indefinitely, while Rashi understands that there is.

2 The Chazon Ish then addresses the cases where on planted kilayim but then regretted doing so. He asks whether it is still considered kilayim, impacting on the question of whether the area can be watered. He answers that since it was intentionally planted as kilyaim it status as kilayim persists.

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