Shabbat Parashat Reeh| 5767
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - Transferring Saplings in Regard to the Laws of Orlah - Part II - From Chavot Binyamin, siman 1
[We introduced last time the case of one who uprooted a tree with a lot of dirt covering its roots, which was transported for replanting in a truck with a metal bottom. Does this break the connection with the ground and require one to count the three years of orlah from the beginning? The gemara allows lifting a stone with grass growing on it from the ground to wipe oneself, which can be done only if no Torah prohibition exists. Rashi posits that this is because even when suspended in the air (like a flower pot on stilts) it is considered attached to the ground. The Rambam and the Riva understand that the fact that there is no Torah prohibition because the original connection to the ground is a weak one and the rock will be returned after use.]
The Riva’s proposition that removing vegetation from the ground with the intention to return it is not a Torah prohibition because of the original weak connection may be limited to the rock with grass. Regarding the gemara’s parallel case of parfisa (apparently, a flower pot) that is removed to stilts, the connection to the ground is probably sufficient for a Torah prohibition to exist. Yet, the Riva may have been referring to both cases. These possibilities can affect the understanding of the Ohr Zarua, who rejects the Riva’s claim. Did he reject the whole proposition that the intention to return it to the ground makes a difference because the gemara makes no explicit distinction? Or is the Ohr Zarua’s argument with the Riva more local in nature? It does seem difficult to distinguish between grass growing on a rock and a flower pot. In both cases, one who pulls the growth from its earth is chayav and in neither case is there a physical connection to the ground which needs to be severed.
It is likely that the Ohr Zarua understands, as the Aruch does, that parfisa is put in such a manner that if left alone, the roots will connect to the ground. This fact, even before the rooting occurs, makes the connection more significant than regarding the grass on the rock, which is never expected to connect to the ground. However, the Rambam (Shabbat 8:4) did not make this distinction as he brings the halachot of the rock and parfisa as one case. How then does the Rambam deal with the fact that there is no Torah violation when removing the earth with grass from the ground?
The Rambam posits that the action of lifting the clump to place on stilts is done with an assumption, and thus a character, of permanence. The action of uprooting is not retroactively erased even if one later returns it to the ground. However, lifting up the stone for wiping is temporary in nature. This is similar to the Minchat Chinuch’s position that if one soaks grain in water, he is chayav for planting only if he leaves it until it sprouts, even though if one sows it in the ground he is chayav even if he removed it before sprouting.
In all likelihood, even the Rishonim who do not distinguish between temporary and permanent planting and uprooting said so only in regard to the laws of Shabbat. On Shabbat the focus is on a person’s actions more than on the status of the object involved. Either way, the person uprooted. However, regarding the laws of Shemittah and orlah, the situation in which the plant is in an obviously temporary state of disconnection affects the halacha. We see this from the Talmudic sources on vegetation that was dragged along by flood or by boat. They are considered to be attached the whole time even though there are certainly moments when their connection was severed. It must be that the temporary break does not affect them.
Similarly, when one transports the trees on the back of a truck, the nature of that position is very temporary. Therefore, when one returns the tree with its covered roots to the ground, he does not need to begin counting the years of orlah from the beginning.
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This edition of Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of
R' Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld o.b.m.
Hemdat Yamim is also dedicated by Les & Ethel Sutker of Chicago, Illinois in loving memory of
Max and Mary Sutker
and Louis and Lillian Klein, z"l.
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