Audio by Dr. Michael Sokolow

פרק ב - משנה א
כל סאה שיש בה רבע ממין אחר Any סאה that has in it a quarter [of a קב] of a different species (i.e. 1/24 of a סאה)
ימעט must be reduced [the different species]
רבי יוסי אומר יבור R' Yose says it must be removed;
בין ממין אחד ובין משני מינין [this rule of the משנה applies] whether it [the 1/24th of foreign species] is of one species or two species
רבי שמעון אומר לא אמרו אלא ממין אחד R' Shimon says that they did not say this except in a case of one species
וחכמים אומרים The Sages say
כל שהוא כלאים בסאה מצטרף לרובע whatever constitutes כלאים when mixed in a סאה can be added to [complete] a quarter [of a קב]
פרק ב - משנה ב
במה דברים אמורים In which matters is this (the 1:23 ratio) said?
תבואה בתבואה [in cases of] grain in grain
וקטנית בקטנית and legumes in legumes
תבואה בקטנית grain in legumes
 וקטנית בתבואה and legumes in grain
באמת אמרו זירעוני גינה שאינן נאכלין in fact, they say that inedible garden seeds
מצטרפין אחד מעשרים וארבעה combine to 1/24
 בנופל לבית סאה of what (amount of garden seeds are) is planted in a בית סאה
רבי שמעון אומר R' Shimon says
כשם שאמרו להחמיר כך אמרו להקל just as they said to be stringent, so too they said to be lenient
הפשתן בתבואה flax [seeds] with grain
מצטרפת אחד מעשרים וארבעה combine to 1/24
 בנופל לבית סאה of what (amount of flax) is planted in a בית סאה


משנה א

כל סאה שיש בה רבע - There are 6 קבים in 1 סאה; thus 1/4 of a קב is 1/24 of a סאה (a ration of 1:23), which the משנה is saying is the minimum amount of a foreign species necessary for a mixture to be forbidden.  This is only where the mixture was made unintentionally, otherwise, as set forth in the previous משנה, even a single grain of wheat mixed with a single grain of barley is אסור when intentionally planted together.

ימעט - This may be accomplished by either adding more to the majority species in the mixture, making the minority mixture constitute less than the threshold amount of 1/24, or by removing some of the minority mixture to achieve the same effect.  There appears to be three different explanations as to how this משנה can permit the intentional בטול an איסור.  One approach, brought by תוי"ט is the ר"ב, who says that מן התורה a ratio of even 1:2 is בטל ברוב, and it was only due to fears of מראית עין that the חכמים prohibited anything with 1/24 or more of a different species in the mixture.  תוי"ט rejects this reasoning, as ביטול ברוב is allowed only when the two substances cannot be distinguished from each other (e.g. a drop of forbidden liquid mixed into a larger amount of permitted liquid).  However where, as here, the forbidden substance can be picked out from the permitted substance, then ביטול is cannot be employed.  Instead, תוי"ט explains that our case is one where there is no intent to plant a mixture, and as such there is no איסור דאורייתא no matter what the ratio is, and no ביטול at all is required.  However the חבמים were מתקן that one could not plant a mixture of 1/24 due to מראית עין.  At smaller fractions there is no מראית עין, and so by adding or subtracting to the mix to get below that threshold one is not intentionally being מבטל any forbidden substance, rather the problem of מראית עין is being removed.  According to both the ר"ב and תוי"ט, even if the mixture of our משנה is planted without the reduction to below 1/24, it is only an איסור דרבנן.  However the רמב"ם indicates inהלכות כלאים, פ"ב  ה"א that if a mixture of 1/24 is planted, that is an איסור דאורייתא.  One possible explanation is that the רמב"ם held that כלאי זרעים is actually an איסור of מראית עין דאורייתא, that is to say, the prohibition of the תורה is against noticeably planting a mixture of two or more varieties.  According to this פשט, when the mixture contains 1/24 or more of a foreign species, than it is apparent that there are two or varieties and it is אסור ; however when that fraction is less than 1/24, there is no such appearance and the איסור does not apply.  Thus, as in the solution of the תוי"ט, being ממעט the foreign species is not intentionally diluting a forbidden substance to an acceptable level, but is rather the removal of the איסור altogether. 

רבי יוסי אומר יבור - According to the  רע"ב, R' Yose's reason is that if one were to dilute the mixture to less than 1/24 without removing the foreign species completely, it then creates the impression that one desires the mixture.  (The משנה ראשונה raises the question of whether we can distinguish between dilution by removal of the foreign species according to R' Yose, and  dilution by adding to the larger species.  While the former is certainly forbidden, it is possible that in the latter case, where one does not manipulate the amount of foreign species in the mixture, it would not appear as if one desires it, which R' Yose might permit it.)  However, if the mixture was less than 1/24 to begin with, than even R' Yose would permit it. 

כל שהוא כלאים בסאה מצטרף לרובע - The difference between the ת"ק and the חכמים (who we פסקן like) is best illustrated by a case where a סאה of שעורים has 1/8 of a קב of שיבולת שועל (with is not כלאים when mixed with שעורים) and 1/8 of a קב of כוסמין (which is).  According to the ת"ק, it musty be diluted, while the חכמים hold that, since there is only 1/8 of a קב (or 1/48 of the סאה) of problematic grains, it is permitted to plant the mixture.

משנה ב

זירעוני גינה שאינן נאכלין - These are plants which, while other parts can eaten, have seeds that are inedible, such as turnips or radishes.

מצטרפין אחד מעשרים וארבעה בנופל לבית סאה - The משנה here is addressing the fact that different types of crops get planted in different densities, and is dealing with what effect mixing different types of crops has on the 1:23 ration of the previous משנה.  [Note that while a סאה is a volumetric unit of dry measure, a בית סאה is a measure of area equal to 50 square אמות.]   While 1 סאה of wheat would be planted in a בית סאה, only 1.5 קבים of inedible vegetable seeds would be planted in the same area.  Therefore, while for grain mixed among grain the proportion of 1/24 is 1/4 of a קב per בית סאה (there are 6 קבים in a סאה), the equivalent of that in vegetable seeds would  actually be 1/24 of 1.5 קבים, or 1/16 of a קב; in other words 1/16 or more of a קב of inedible vegetable seeds mixed into a  בית סאה of grain would be כלאים

כשם שאמרו להחמיר כך אמרו להקל - The point is that just as there are some vegetables that are planted more sparsely than grain, so too there are crops that are planted more densely - 3 סאה of flax per בית סאה in the case of flax.  In that case, it would take 3/4 of a קב of flax (or 1/24 of 3 סאה) mixed into a סאה of grain for it to be prohibited.

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