Shabbat Parashat Ki Tavo| 5764
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - Kilayim - VII - The Prohibition of Grafting - Kilei Harkava - From Eretz Hemdah II, 2: 1,2
In addition to the explicit Torah prohibition of sowing a field with the seeds of different species, Chazal derived the prohibition of grafting the branch of one tree onto another tree of a different species, in such a manner that the branch becomes attached to the host tree. This case is the connection between the prohibition of mixed sowing and that of mixed breeding of animals, which the Torah brings in tandem. By this, we mean that one combines two types of plants in a way that a new species. Sometimes, the prohibition is violated without forcing a branch into a tree, but, for example, by placing a vine into the roots of a watermelon. This is forbidden even if it is done in order that it will receive more moisture, not with the intention or result of creating a new type of fruit.
In a few ways, the prohibition of grafting is stricter than that of mixed sowing (kilei zeraim). Firstly, grafting is forbidden by the Torah even outside Eretz Yisrael. The logic is that grafting is derived from cross-breeding, which is not a land-based mitzva and thus applied even in chut la’aretz. Additionally, grafting applies even to trees, while kilei zeraim applies only to seeds. The reason is similar to what we have just explained. The pasuk on kilei zeraimi mentionssowing, not planting, which applies to trees. However, as kilei harkava is not derived from the words of kilei zeraim but from the concept of cross-breeding, any two species are included, whether they are sowed or planted.
On the other hand, it may be incorrect to look at grafting as a prohibition that is totally unrelated to mixed sowing. For example, the Chatam Sofer cites an opinion that only the grafting of two species of fruit which together will create a fruit is prohibited.
There is also a question how to apply the introduction to the pasuk, which is the source of the related prohibitions of mixed species, in regard to grafting. The pasuk says, “Et chukotai tishmoro” (You shall keep my statutes). The Amora, Shmuel (Kiddushin 39a) understands these words in reference to the rules [of nature] that are included in the creation, in other words, that they shouldn’t be interfered with by forbidden human intervention. This concept may provide the impetus to extend the prohibition of mixed species to grafting despite the fact that it is omitted from the pasuk in the explicit form. However, the gemara in Sanhedrin (60a) brings this approach to the pasuk in the context of R. Eliezer’s opinion that kilayim is forbidden for gentiles (Bnei Noach) as well. This can imply that according to Rabbanan, who hold that only Jews are obligated in kilayim, chok means a mitzva without a known reason, not a concept from the beginning of time. This appears to be Rashi’s opinion. However, according to Tosafot, all agree that the chok of kilayim is an ancient one, and the machloket is as follows. According to R. Eliezer, the chok was long ago decreed upon all mankind. According to Rabbanan, the rules were not commanded to mankind until Bnei Yisrael accepted the Torah, but the rules were incorporated into the world through nature.
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