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Shabbat Parashat Ki Tetzei| 5764
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - Kilayim - VI - What Species are Included in the Prohibition of Mixed Sowing? - Part II - From Eretz Hemdah II, 1:7
The Rambam (Kilayim 1:4) says that the prohibition on sowing seeds of different species (kilei zeraim) applies only to plants that are for edible food, as opposed to bitter grasses. However, the Kesef Mishneh (ad loc.) asks from the mishna (Kilayim 5:8) that the only criterion is that they are the type of vegetation that one is usually interested in keeping. He also cited a Yerushalmi that the laws of kilayim apply to zunin (a certain species) because they are eaten by birds. The Kesef Mishneh, therefore, interprets the Rambam to apply to all species that one is interested in keeping, with edible ones just being the most common example. According to the Kesef Mishneh, it does not appear that the species must be edible even to animals (based on his first question). The Radvaz (Kilayim 2:9) understands the Rambam according to his simple reading, that the species must be edible for humans. The Levush takes the middle approach, stating that the species must be edible, but it is sufficient for it to be edible for animals.
How does the Radvaz explain the Yerushalmi that zunin have kilayim because they are eaten by birds? The P’nei Moshe answers that zunin are subject to the laws of kilayim because they belong to the same family as wheat, which is, of course, edible. However, this is very difficult to accept, as the Yerushalmi mentions only the factor of being edible for birds.
One can, perhaps, reconcile the Radvaz if we assume that there are two factors that must be met in order for the laws of kilayim to apply.
The first requirement is that species must be fit for human consumption. If not, the field in which they grow is not categorized as “sadcha.” The second requirement is that people must make an effort to sustain such plants in order for them to be considered “zera.”
Regarding the requirement of being edible, it may be sufficient for the species to be even minimally edible, as seems to be indicated by the mishna (Kilayim 2:5). The Radvaz may understand that zunin are minimally edible for man. However, people will not make efforts to grow or sustain such a plant for human consumption except under bizarre circumstances. In order to meet the second requirement, it needs to have a practical value. For that reason the Yerushalmi stresses that zunin are useful to feed to birds.
The Tiferet Shmuel reconciles the Rambam, answering the Kesef Mishaneh’s questions on his simple reading, by saying that in order to have a Torah prohibition, the species needs to be edible for humans, whereas rabbinically, it is sufficient to be edible for animals. The Yerushalmi is, then, talking on the rabbinic level. (This approach is difficult to insert into the Rambam’s wording.)
On a practical level, one should accept the Kesef Mishneh’s strict ruling, out of fear of a Torah prohibition. However, one should realize that this entire discussion is pertinent only when but one of the mixed seeds is not humanly edible. However, when both are inedible, then the prohibition does not apply because the species are considered of the same category, that of non-edible seeds. We have precedent for this distinction in the halacha that one may graft the branch of one non fruit-bearing tree onto another (Chazon Ish, Kilayim 1:12).
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