Kilayim, Chapter Three, Mishnah One

Introduction

In previous mishnayot we learned that vegetables must be separated by a space of six handbreadths to prevent a problem of kilayim. In todays mishnah we learn that this is only so in a case of a field of vegetables. When it comes to smaller furrows, the rabbis were more lenient and allowed one to distance them by a measure of only 1 ½ handbreadths, the amount of land the rabbis thought that each vegetable used to derive nutrients.

To understand this mishnah we must also recall that if the point of one area planted with one species ends at the beginning of another species, this is permitted.  I have tried to make a drawing below to illustrate this.

In this drawing the triangle can be of one species and the rectangle of another.

Mishnah One

1)      A furrow of vegetables measuring six handbreadths by six handbreadths: it is permitted to sow in it five [different] types of seeds–four [species], one on [each of] the four sides of the bed, and one in the middle.

2)      If it had a border one handbreadth high, one may sow in it thirteen [different species] three on every border, and one in the middle.

3)      It is prohibited to plant a turnip head in the border since that would fill it [completely].

a)      Rabbi Judah said: [it is permitted to sow] six [species] in the middle.

Explanation

Section one:  I have drawn an approximation of what this furrow will look like below:

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I dont know how to draw half-filled boxes, so pretend that all boxes marked with a are filled with a triangle, such that only a point of this triangle is in contact with the planted area on the outside.  In this way one can plant four different species on the outside and still maximize his planting on the inside.

Section two:  If there is a border that is one handbreadth high, and one handbreadth wide, it turns out that the square is eight handbreadths by eight handbreadths.  He can now sow thirteen different seeds, as you can see in the following drawing:

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Again, imagine that the a boxes are filled to make triangles, coming to a point at their contact with the rows on the outside.  In this way, he can sow thirteen different seeds, twelve on the outside rows, and a large patch in the middle.

Rabbi Judah below disagrees with this and holds that one can plant six in the middle.  This could be accomplished by drawing six diamonds in the middle, so that only the angles of the triangles touch the edges of the outside squares, like this.

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Each letter forms a diamond (sorry that Im not cable of drawing this.)  In this way the only the angles of the diamonds touch the squares.

Section three:  Turnip plants produce many leaves. Therefore if they are planted outside, it will look like they have mixed in with the other species and this is prohibited.