Daf Yomi

For the week ending 31 August 2002 / 23 Elul 5762

#57 - Bava Batra 156-162

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Thistles in the Vineyard

When Rabbi Elazar was presented with a challenge to his ruling regarding a dying persons oral distribution of his property from a ruling of the Sages involving the sons of Roichel, he countered that no proof could be brought from them. They were sinners, he declared, who deserved to buried by their mother and the ruling against them by the Sages was a penalty for their misdeeds.

What was so terrible about these people to deserve such a condemnation?

They maintained thistles in their vineyard, and it is the position of Rabbi Elazar that one who does so is guilty of violating the Torah command against kilayim (growing different species together).

Two problems exist in understanding why this was considered a transgression. First of all, the Torah (Vayikra 19:19) explicitly states You shall not sow your field kilyaim which seems to limit the ban to actually sowing the foreign species in the field. The sons of Roichel did not sow the thistles in their vineyard, reports Rabbi Yehuda in the name of the Sage Shmuel. They only hesitated to remove them once they grew by themselves. The second problem is that only something customary for people to maintain is considered kilyaim if it grows in the vineyard or wheat field, and thistles hardly fit into this category.

Rashbam provides a solution to both problems. In regard to the issue of maintaining versus sowing, he cites a gemara (Mesechta Moel Katan 2b) which states that maintaining kilayim which grew by itself is also forbidden. This is based on reading the last word in that aforementioned passages phrase banning the crossbreeding of animals as the first word of the next three-word phrase. This produces the phrase kilayim in your field shall not be which serves as a prohibition on maintenance as well as sowing.

On the question of thistles being something which people do not maintain for any purpose, Rashbam reminds us that plants grown even for animal food also create kilayim in a vineyard. Thistles, Rabbi Elazar points out, were grown in Arabia as food for camels. Although his position is challenged by the other Sages who held that only in the place where it is so commonly grown will thistles create kilayim it was Rabbi Elazars position that thistles create kilayim everywhere, which convinced him that the sons of Roichel were sinners and that the ruling of the court against them in a financial matter was a penalty for their transgression.

Bava Batra 156b

Inheriting A Blessing

In the place of your fathers will be your sons. You (Hashem) will appoint them princes throughout the land. (Tehillim 45:17)

This passage is cited in our gemara as a blessing. But who are the fathers that it is referring to?

Maharsha takes issue with the explanations of Rashbam and other commentaries who view this as a blessing that the children of a righteous man will inherit his glory. The use of the plural term fathers rather than the singular father indicates that this is not a reference to the individual father or inheritance but rather to the fathers of our people and their collective descendants.

And you shall be blessed said Hashem to Avraham (Bereishet 12:2)

And G-d blessed Yitzchak. (ibid. 25:11)

And G-d appeared to Yaakov and He blessed him. (ibid. 35:9)

All three of our forefathers were blessed by Hashem. The blessing cited above in Tehillim is an assurance that the blessing given to them in regard to all matters will be inherited by their descendants. The concluding part of the passage which speaks of being appointed princes refers to the promise which Hashem gave to these forefathers that He would give their descendants Eretz Yisrael.

(In the texts of Maharsha that we have, the passage quoted regarding the blessing of Yaakov is He blessed him there which is in Bereishet 32:30. The problem with this is that the blessing there was not given by Hashem, but was, as Rashi explains, a concession on the part of the patron angel of Esav that the blessings Yaakov received from his father were not the illegitimate products of deceit but rightfully belongs to him. If this is not a printing error the only reason for Maharsha preferring this source to the one in Bereishet 35:9 is that the interpretation of that passage cited by Rashi is that it was not an ordinary blessing but rather an expression of condolence on the loss of his mother. This explanation is problematic, however, because the blessing of Yitzchak cited by Maharsha is also interpreted by Rashi as a condolence call.)

Bava Batra 159a

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