Oktzim, Chapter One, Mishnah Two
Today’s mishnah discusses what parts of certain types of produce are considered to be part of the plant.
1) Roots of garlic, onions or leeks that are still moist, or their top-parts, whether they are moist or dry, also the central stalk that is within the edible part, the roots of lettuce, the radish and the turnip, the words of Rabbi Meir.
2) Rabbi Judah says: only the large roots of the radish are included, but its fibrous roots are not included.
3) The roots of the mint, rue, wild herbs and garden herbs that have been uprooted in order to be planted elsewhere, and the spine of an ear of grain, and its husk.
4) Rabbi Elazar says: also the earth covering of roots;
5) All these things contract and convey impurity and are included.
Sections one through four: In these four sections, various tannaim determine what parts of certain types of produce, specifically the roots and the spines/stalks of root vegetables, count as being part of the produce. In general roots are part of the plant if they will either be eaten or if they will be used for replanting. Inedible roots are not part of the produce. So too other parts of the produce, and even the dirt accompanying the produce according to Rabbi Elazar, count with the produce if they are necessary to it. I think that most of these are fairly clear from the translation, so I won’t explain each one on its own.
Section five: All of the parts of produce that are listed above do three things: they contract impurity if the rest of the piece of produce was defiled. If they are defiled they convey their impurity to the other part. Finally, they are reckoned with the remainder of the produce to constitute the requisite amount to become impure.