Shabbat Parashat Devarim| 5764
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - Kilayim - Part II -The Source for the Prohibition of Sowing of Mixed Species - Based on Eretz Hemdah, vol. II, 1:1
The Torah writes explicitly: “You shall observe my decrees: your animals you shall not cross-breed with other species, your fields you shall not sow with mixed seed, and clothes with a mixture of different fibers (sha’atnez) you shall not place upon you” (Vayikra 19:19). Despite this fact, Rashi in several places (including Shabbat 84b) says that the prohibition of kilei zerzaim (seeding a field with a mixture of species) is only rabbinic. In one place, Rashi does seem to agree to the Torah origin of the prohibition. How do we deal with both Rashi’s internal contradiction and the contradiction from an apparently explicit pasuk?
Tosafot brings several questions on Rashi. One is from the gemara’s (Chulin 115a) suggestion that that which grows from a field that was sown with a mixture of seeds is prohibited based on the pasuk, “Do not eat any abomination” (Devarim 14:3). That pasuk is the basis of a general rule that products of forbidden processes are forbidden to eat. However, the pasuk is pertinent only if the process (in this case, kilei zeraim) is forbidden from the Torah. Another question is from the gemara (Kiddushin 39a), which learns from the word “sadcha” (your field), not that one is forbidden to graft, but that the laws of kilei zeraim apply only in Eretz Yisrael. That again presumes that the prohibition has a source in the Torah. But even Tosafot is difficult to understand. Why does he need to derive his objection to Rashi from inferences from gemarot if thereis an explicit pasuk on the matter?
The gemara (Sanhedrin 60a) picks up on the juxtaposition of the prohibition of sowing a field with mix species and the prohibition of cross-breeding species of animals and derives that one is forbidden to graft trees, which is the botanical equivalent of cross-breeding. If one takes the importance of the juxtaposition to an extreme, he can claim that despite the simple meaning of the words, the pasuk is referring only to grafting and not to kilei zeraim at all. For that reason, Tosafot did not bring a proof for kilei zeraim from the pasuk, rather from gemarot.
The possibility of learning the pasuk just to forbid grafting may be behind Rashi’s opinion as well. There are indications that Rashi understood that there was a machloket between R. Eliezer and Rabbanan whether grafting is forbidden from the Torah (R. Eliezer) or not. It is possible that Rashi understood that according to the opinion that grafting is forbidden from the Torah, then only it is forbidden and not kilei zeraim. According to the opinion that grafting is rabbinic in origin, then kilei zeraim is the subject of the Torah’s prohibition. Since R. Yochanan (Kiddushin 39a) rules that grafting is from the Torah, Rashi may have concluded that kilei zeraim is rabbinic. Consequently, Tosafot’s questions are no longer difficult for Rashi. The gemarot that Tosafot cites as proofs that kilei zeraim are from the Torah may be going according to the opinion that grafting is rabbinic. Rashi’s internal contradiction can also be reconciled, as different gemarot may be explained in line with different opinions found in Shas, as may be appropriate based on local subtleties.
In terms of halacha, both the Rambam and Shulchan Aruch rule, like Tosafot, that kilei zeraim is from the Torah and is punishable by flogging.
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