Kil'ayim

  • Rav Moshe Taragin

            The gemara in Pesachim (25a) and in Chullin (116a) address the issue of kil'ayim - the biblical prohibition against planting grains and grapes together.  The gemara distinguishes between two forms of kil'ayim.  In one case, the two types of seeds are planted together, resulting in the prohibited growth of kil'ayim.  In a second case, the grains are joined at a later stage, after having already taken root in a permissible fashion.  Regarding this second form of kil'ayim, there are a number of possible scenarios.  One possible situation may involve planting wheat in a large vase or pot (with holes in it), and subsequently placing this pot in the vicinity of grape vines.  Being that the gemara on several occasions notes that plants growing in pots with holes are nourished by the adjacent ground (and by plants growing in that ground), the relocation of this pot into the vicinity of grapes establishes a 'combined nourishment,' which in turn entails of violation of the prohibition of kil'ayim.  Another possible scenario may involve a case in which a wall was erected to separate wheat and grapes which were planted alongside each other.  This wall, which cordons the two, prevents a violation of kil'ayim.  If, however, the wall should fall down, even after the two species have already begun to grow, the resulting fruit and grain is to be considered kil'ayim.

 

            The gemara in Pesachim (25a) inquires as to the shiur of these two forms of kil'ayim.  What type of growth is necessary so that the 'planter' is considered to have violated the prohibition of kil'ayim, and in turn the produce becomes prohibited?  Surely, merely placing the seeds in the ground or relocating the wheat does should not entail an issur!!

 

            The gemara responds by distinguishing between the two types of kil'ayim described above.  Newly planted crops are to be considered kil'ayim once the seeds have taken root (hashrasha), whereas in the latter case (where plants which have already grown are placed near each other), the fruits are only considered kil'ayim once the two species have grown an additional 1/200 of their original size.  Until this stage, however, the fruits and grains remain permitted.

 

            This article will explore the nature of this second halakha, which establishes that the status of kil'ayim sets in only after these relocated crops have augmented by a ratio of at least 1/200 of their original size (prior to the transfer).

 

            Rashi and Tosafot, in both Pesachim and Chullin (115b), suggest a rational based upon the principle of "bitul" (subordination of the issur).  Generally, when a small quantity of prohibited food is assimilated with a larger quantity of permitted food, if the ratio of permitted food to prohibited food is 60 to 1, the prohibited food is "batel" and the mixture if permitted.  In this case as well if the ready grown quantity is less than 1/200 to the previous plant, it becomes subordinate to the permissible part.  More than 1/200 of growth cannot become batel.  The concept of 'bitul' applies with a different ratio.

 

            Rashi cites the Sifri which explains that the prohibition of kil'ayim is "double" that of teruma, inasmuch as teruma is only forbidden to eat while certain benefits ("hana'a") are permissible, whereas from kil'ayim it is prohibited to derive benefit as well.  Likewise, the Sifri continues, the quantities required to constitute 'bitul' are also "double."  For bitul to occur in the case of teruma, a ratio of 100 to 1 is necessary, hence, for bitul to occur in kil'ayim a ratio of 200 to 1 is required.

 

            What emerges is that according to Rashi and Tosafot, until the plant has grown at least 1/200 in this 'combined state,' bitul continually occurs.  The plant is to be viewed as one large object and whatever growth occurs as kil'ayim is outweighed by the original plant which grew legally.  This bitul, according to Rashi and Tosafot, is similar to that which would occur if a quantity of kil'ayim wine ACTUALLY fell into a barrel in which a volume of regular wine 200 times more were stored.  The entire barrel could be consumed since bitul has occurred.  Once, however, the new growth exceeds 1/200 of the original plant, the proportions can no longer support a state of bitul, and the entire plant is prohibited as it contains a MIXTURE of issur and heter without a sufficient discrepancy in favor of the heter.

 

            While Rashi and Tosafot base their understanding of the required ratio of 1/200 on the well known principle of bitul, one might have suggested an alternate understanding.  One might suggest that this ratio of 1/200 is a "shiur" in the fullest sense of the word.  Just as a halakhic act of "eating" is not complete until a certain minimum quantity has been consumed, similarly a halakhic act of "growing" has not occurred until a certain growth has been added.  Here, the shiur or dimensions of growth necessary so that a halakhically recognized "growth" can be said to have occurred is not absolute but relative.  To be considered a plant which grew in a state of kil'ayim, a relocated, mature plant must add at least 1/200 to its original size.

 

            There is a basic difference between these two approaches.  According to Rashi and Tosafot, the moment this relocated plant begins to grow (even the minutest quantity), the new growth is technically considered kil'ayim.  However, in the larger picture it is overwhelmed by the rest of the original plant which is considered pure heter.  As the dimensions change, so does their 'relationship,' until the issur gathers sufficient strength to cast its influence upon the original plant and convert it to issur.  According to the second approach, however, no issur exists even in a theoretical sense until a sufficient amount of growth has occurred.  Once, however, this occurs, the entire plant is considered absolutely and completely assur and not merely a mixture of heter and issur with the latter overpowering and converting the former.

 

            The differences between these two approaches are not merely theoretical, although even at this level they are so fundamentally distinct.  What would happen if this quantity of growth occurred in stages?  Such a scenario is presented by the gemara in Bava Batra (2b) which discusses a wall which falls and is rebuilt, and falls again and is subsequently rebuilt.  What would happen if the plants incremented 1/400 during the first period without a wall, and an additional 1/400 during the second period? 

 

            The Rabbenu Tam suggests that we should treat this as any case of a ta'arovet (mixture of heter and issur) in which we would apply the principle of "kamma kamma batel."  As each minute quantity of issur falls into the heter, it is overwhelmed by the heter.  Only when a sufficient quantity of issur falls 'at once' into heter can it prohibit the resident heter.  In our case, then, the first 1/400 which grows before the wall was rebuilt was insufficient and becomes overwhelmed by the original 399/400 of heter, so that it all becomes permissible.  Subsequently, when the wall falls again and the plant grows another 1/400, this too is overwhelmed by the rest of the plant, ALL OF WHICH is now considered heter.

 

            The Ramban disagrees with Rabbenu Tam and rejects this application of "kamma kamma batel."  The required amount of 1/200 is not necessary to provide the necessary ratio for bitul, rather, once the plant has grown 1/200 of its original size it is considered to have grown in a prohibited manner and the entire plant is therefore considered kil'ayim.  Even if this growth occurs in two installments, the prohibited growth has occurred and the plant is now defined as kil'ayim.

 

            An additional consequence of the above debate might be discerned in a dispute between the Rashba and Tosafot.  The Rashba in Bava Batra (36) cites an opinion that if the fruit itself grew an additional 1/200, only the fruit, and not the bush, stalks or vines in the case of grapes, would become assur.  Tosafot in Chullin (116) argue - once the fruit increases by 1/200 the entire plant becomes prohibited.

 

            Certainly, one factor which would greatly influence this issue is the halakhic degree of integration between the plant and the fruit - are they viewed as halakhically one item or two distinct (but conjoined) items?  This machloket, however, may also be based upon the above question - how to we view the growth which occurred in a state of kil'ayim?  According to aforementioned Rashi and Tosafot, the entire plant is to be viewed as one mixture - consisting of the original heter and of the ever-growing issur - a mixture which becomes fully prohibited once its quantity of issur exceeds a certain limit.  This metamorphosis would seemingly extend to the entire plant - tree as well as fruit.  However, according to our alternate opinion which views the additional growth as defining the plant as one of kil'ayim,  we might limit this classification to only the part which actually grew.  If the growth came forth from the fruit ALONE, then only the fruit may be defined as kil'ayim, and not the stalk or the vines.

 

             A third issue which might be influenced by our understanding of the proportion of 1/200 is the manner by which we actually determine this ratio.  The Rambam in Hilkhot Kil'ayim (5:21) writes that "if someone plants a vegetable near a vine, we inspect the vegetable to see whether it grew an extra 1/200th while it was proximate to the grapes."  One might gather the impression from the Rambam that we don't require that EACH grow 1/200th; it suffices that EITHER be augmented.  Clearly, if we view the additional growth as the ACTUAL forbidden item and the rest as prohibited by extension (because it cannot be physically or logically separated from the 'issur'), we would be inclined to concur with this position.  Once the vegetable alone is augmented, it is prohibited and the vine is then converted to issur.  Alternatively, if the growth of 1/200 is not to be viewed as the ACTUAL issur, but rather as an indicator that the two have grown together in a meaningful yet prohibited manner, we might disagree with the Rambam.  We might claim that this prohibited "mutual growth" is only achieved if both elements were augmented as a result.  Therefore, we might demand that EACH plant grow an additional 1/200 in order to be considered kil'ayim.

 

METHODOLOGICAL POINTS:

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1. At times, a halakhic factor can directly establish a change in an object's status, or merely indicate that another factor has occurred which is primarily responsible for the transformation.  In classical terminology, we can view a factor as a "siman" (indicator) or a "siba" (cause itself). In our instance, does the growth indicate that the two have fused sufficiently, in turn establishing a pervasive prohibition?  Does the MERGING of the two rather than the ACTUAL growth create the new issur?  Or, might we suggest that the mutual growth doesn't indicate an issur, rather is causes it.  The new 1/200th which grew through mutual nutrification is inherently assur.  This issur "percolates" throughout the entirety of the integrated and inseparable "mixture" until its quantity is great enough to prevent the growth from being overwhelmed by the presence of the heter.

 

            In a parallel vein, we might question whether the 'signs' required on a kosher animal ESTABLISH the animal's status of  kosher, or merely INDICATE that this animal is a SPECIES which the Torah allowed.  What would happen if a cow didn't produce these signs - or for that matter if a donkey did?

 

FURTHER STUDY:

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1. See the aforementioned Rambam which describes a method for actually testing the ratio of 1/200 of growth.  Contrast this with the test which the Ra'avad suggests.  What is the fundamental difference between them?  Does their dispute regarding the method of testing reveal a fundamental difference in understanding the concept of 1/200?

 

2. See the aforementioned gemarot in Chullin and Pesachim.  Often, the gemara distinguishes between two types of issurim: those which were always prohibited (orla, neveila) and those which were once permitted (meat and milk, chametz) and are now prohibited.  Based upon the different models developed above, how would you characterize kil'ayim?  Is it possible to categorize it with orla, and claim that whatever eventually will be the heart of the issur was never really permitted, but rather was prohibited from its inception?