Audio by Dr. Michael Sokolow
Demai 7:8: If one has ten rows of ten jars of wine and says, "One outside row is the tithe" and it is not known which [row] it is, he takes two jars diagonally. [If he said,] "Half of one outside row is the tithe" and it is not known which [row] it is, he takes four jars from the four corners. [If he said,] "One row is the tithe" and it is not known which [row] it is, he takes two diagonal rows. [If he said,] "One jar is the tithe" and it is not known which jar it is, he takes from every jar.
מי שהיו לו עשר שורות של עשר עשר כדי יין ואמר שורה החיצונה אחת מעשר ואין ידוע איזו היא נוטל שתי חביות לוכסן. חצי שורה החיצונה אחת מעשר ואין ידוע איזו היא נוטל ארבע חביות מארבע זויות. שורה אחת מעשר ואין ידוע איזו היא נוטל שורה אחת לוכסן. חצי שורה אחת מעשר ואין ידוע איזו היא נוטל שתי שורות לוכסן. חבית אחת מעשר. ואין ידוע איזו היא. נוטל מכל חבית וחבית:
"את חקתי תשמרו בהמתך לא תרביע כלאים שדך לא תזרע כלאים ובגד כלאים שעטנז לא יעלה עליך" (ויקרא, י"ט:י"ט)
Background: The מסכתא begins with exceptions to כלאי זראים, forbidden crop combinations, beginning in the first משנה with varieties of cereal grains and legumes. Note that while the species listed are excepted from כלאים in the pairs listed in the משנה, other combinations of the same varieties listed therein would be considered כלאים.
It is not clear what exactly made two species similar enough to avoid the אסור of כלאים. The ירושלמי does lists three factors: the morphology of the plant's leaves, the morphology of its fruit, and the taste of its fruit; however, how these factors are weighted alongside each other is a matter of discussion amongst ראשונים.
Editor's note: many of the species named in these משניות are obscure, and there are often different opinions on their interpretation. The translations selected for particular terms were picked with an eye on what, in my limited comprehension, was consistent, accurate and relevant, and while some alternate translations are given in the notes, this is not always the case. For a fuller understanding a more comprehensive פרוש should be consulted.
|החיטים והזונין||Wheat with darnel (a weed that resembles wheat)|
|אינן כלאים זה בזה||are not כלאים when together;|
|השעורים ושיבולת שועל||six-row barley with two-row barley|
|הכוסמין והשיפון||emmer (a bristly, wheat-like plant) with rye;|
|הפול והספיר||fava beans with garden peas;|
|הפרקדן והטפח||grasspea with red grasspea;|
|ופול הלבן והשעועים||and white beans with cowpeas|
|אינם כלאים זה בזה||are not כלאים when together.|
זונים - This weed commonly grows among other crops and produces black seeds. While the seeds are unfit for human consumption and thus would ordinarily not be subject to the laws of כלאים, it was used as bird-feed and thus would be אסור to grow mixed other crops. Its etymology is from the root 'זנה' which indicates that it is a 'degenerate' form of wheat. The ירושלמי describes this as a degeneration of ordinary wheat seeds after they have been planted, while מדרש רבה as brought down by the רע"ב says that this weed arose during the דור המבול in tandem that era's degeneration.
ושבלת שועל - Also translated as oats (רש"י). However the רמב"ם identifies it as wild or desert barley, which is consistent with two-row barley, the original species from which the six-row variety mutated.
כוסמין - Although this is commonly translated as spelt, it seems that emmer is the more likely translation, especially since it is not clear that spelt had been cultivated in the region during the era of the משנה. In addition, the רמב"ם states that the combination of כסמין and שיפון (which, besides rye, is also translated as corn or wild wheat) are not כלאים because they have the same appearance, and emmer more closely resembles rye than does spelt (as do corn and wild wheat). [Also note that the ערוך translated שיפון as spelt.]
פול - This word can mean many types of bean, but from the the רמב"ם it appears that here it indicates fava beans or broad beans, which are called ful in arabic.
והטפח - The רמב"ם describes this as a hard white grain similar in nature to barley.
ופול הלבן - Some translate פול הלבן as hyacinth beans, however those beans are not white.
והשעועים - according to the ירושלמי, this is a variety of white bean known for its laxative properties, the רמב"ם translates it as lubia in Arabic, which often refers to cowpeas; black eyed peas are a white sub-variety of cowpea.