Kilayim, Chapter Six, Mishnah One



In mishnah 4:5 we learned that according to Bet Hillel, there need to be two rows of vines for their to be a vineyard, whereas Bet Shammai held that only one row was necessary.  As a reminder, if something is considered a vineyard, he will have to distance seeds four cubits from there, whereas if it is considered to be individual vines, he will only have to distance the seeds six handbreadths.

In today’s mishnah we learn that Bet Hillel agrees with Bet Shammai that an aris, vines draped over reeds or a fence, is treated like a vineyard.  In English this is translated as an “espalier,” a word which I admit that until now I did not know.  My on-line dictionary translates it as, “a plant, especially a fruit tree, trained to grow flat against an upright surface, for example, a wall or fence, or on wires.” 


Mishnah One

1)      What is an aris (an espalier) [which is regarded as a vineyard]? 

a)      One who has planted a [single] row consisting of five vines beside a fence ten handbreadths high, or beside a trench ten handbreadths deep and four wide, they leave a space of four cubits in which to work it.

2)      Bet Shammai says: they measure the four cubits from the body of the vine to the field; 

a)      But Bet Hillel says: from the fence to the field. 

3)      Rabbi Yohanan ben Nuri said: all who say so are mistaken! Rather, if there are four cubits from the body of the vines to the fence, they leave a space in which to work it and they may sow the rest. 

4)      And how much is the space in which work to work a vine?

a)      Six handbreadths in every direction.  

b)      Rabbi Akiva says: three.



Section one:  For an aris to be considered like a vineyard, it must have at least five vines planted next to a fence ten handbreadths high or a trench ten handbreadths deep and four wide. They would train the vine to grow either on the sides of the fence, or on the walls of the trench.  It seems that since this structure is more substantial, Bet Hillel agrees that it is treated like a vineyard.  Practically speaking, treating the vines as a vineyard means that he will have to distance any seeds four cubits from them, as opposed to six handbreadths, the distance for single vines.

Section two: The mishanh now records a disagreement as to where they measure from when providing a space to work the vineyard. According to Bet Shammai they measure from the vines themselves.  Bet Hillel says that they measure from the fence on which the vines are trained to the plot that he wants to plant with seeds, even though there will end up being less than four cubits between the actual vines and the seeds.

Section three:  Rabbi Yohanan ben Nuri disagrees with the tradition in the previous sections, according to which Bet Hillel holds that one row of vines is counted as a vineyard if it is in the form of an aris. Rabbi Yohanan b. Nuri admits that there was a tradition concerning “four cubits” and an “aris,” but he holds that the tradition was not like that recorded above. The “four cubits” and an “aris” tradition teaches that if the aris grew four cubits out from the fence, then they leave a space (of six handbreadths) in which to work the aris, just as they do with a single row of vines, and they may plant between this space and the fence.  However, if there are less than four cubits, then one can’t plant between the vines and the fence. 

Section four:  This section now teaches how much space one must leave to work a single vine, meaning how much space one must leave between the vine and any seeds. According to the first opinion, he needs to leave six handbreadths, whereas Rabbi Akiva holds that three are sufficient.