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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Shabbath

Folio 85a

and the Rabbis ascertained that five [species sown] in six [handbreadths square] do not draw [sustenance] from each other.1  And how do we know that that which the Rabbis ascertain is of consequence?2  For R. Hiyya b. Abba said in R. Johanan's name: What is meant by, Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour's landmark, which they of old have set?3  The landmark which they of old have set thou shalt not encroach upon.4  What landmarks did they of old set? R. Samuel b. Nahmani said in R. Johanan's name, [Even] as it is written, These are the sons of Seir the Horite, the inhabitants of the earth:5  are then the whole world inhabitants of heaven? But it means that they were thoroughly versed in the cultivation of the earth. For they used to say, This complete [measuring] rod [of land is fit] for olives, this complete [measuring] rod [is fit] for vines, this complete [measuring] rod for figs.6  And Horite [hori] implies that they smelled [merikin] the earth. And Hivite [hiwi]? Said R. Papa: [It teaches] that they tasted the earth like a serpent [hiwya].7  R. Aha b. Jacob said: Horite [hori] implies that they become free [horin] from [the cares of] their property.8

R. Assi said: The internal area of the seed-bed must be six [handbreadths square], apart from its borders.9  It was taught likewise: The internal area of the seed-bed must be six [handbreadths square]. How much must its borders be?10  — As we learnt, R. Judah said: Its breadth must be the full breadth of [the sole of] a foot, R. Zera — others say, R. Hanina b. Papa — said: What is R. Judah's reason? Because it is written, and wateredst it with thy foot:11  just as the [sole of] the foot is a handbreadth, so must the border too be a handbreadth.

Rab said: We learnt of a seed bed in a waste plot.12  But there is the corner space?13  — The School of Rab14  answered in Rab's name: It refers to one who fills up the corners. Yet let one sow on the outside,15  and not fill up the inside?

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Hence the implications of the verse are referred to a plot of this size.
  2. To base a law thereon.
  3. Deut. XIX, 14.
  4. By planting so near to your neighbour's border that the roots must draw sustenance from his land, thus impoverishing it.
  5. Gen. XXXVI, 20.
  6. They know how to divide up the land for cultivation, and as a corollary they must have known how much earth each species required for its sustenance. It was from them that the Rabbis acquired this knowledge, whose correctness is vouched for by this verse.
  7. In both cases for agricultural purposes.
  8. Being dispossessed thereof, v. Deut. II, 12.
  9. Fallow borders were left around seed-beds for the convenience of threshing; the area stated in the Mishnah does not include the borders.
  10. That the whole may be technically regarded as a seed-bed, and the laws appertaining thereto (v. infra) apply to it.
  11. Ibid. XI, 10.
  12. I.e., the Mishnah refers to sucb. But if it is surrounded by other beds sown with different seeds, there is only the two handbreadths space occupied by the borders of the two contiguous beds between them, whereas three handbreadths space is required between two rows of different plants.
  13. Which can be left unsown. It is then possible to have the bed surrounded by others.
  14. The term Be Rab may mean either the School founded by Rab or scholars in general; Weiss Dor, III, 158.
  15. Of the seed-bed, i.e., it need not be in the middle of an unsown plot.

Shabbath 85b

— It is a preventive measure, lest he fill up the corners. Yet let it not be other than a triangular plot1  of vegetables? Did we not learn, If a triangular plot of vegetables enters another field,2  this is permitted, because it is evidently the end of a field?3  — [The permissibility of] a triangular plot does not apply to a seed-bed.4

But Samuel maintained: We learnt of a seed-bed in the midst of [other] seed-beds. But they intermingle? — He inclines one strip in one direction and one strip in another direction,

'Ulla said: They asked in the West [Palestine]: What if a person draws one furrow across the whole?5  R. Shesheth maintained: The intermingling comes and annuls the strips.6  R. Assi said: The intermingling does not annul the strips. Rabina raised an objection to R. Ashi: If one plants two rows of cucumbers, two rows of gourds, and two rows of Egyptian beans, they are permitted;7  one row of cucumbers, one row of gourds and one of Egyptian beans, they are forbidden?8  — Here it is different, because there is entanglement.9

R. Kahana said in R. Johanan's name: If one desires to fill his whole garden with vegetables,10  he can divide it into11  bed[s] six [handbreadths] square, describe in each a circle five [handbreadths in diameter], and fill its corners with whatever he pleases.12  But there is the [space] between [the beds]?13  — Said the School of R. Jannai: He leaves the interspaces waste.14  R. Ashi said: If they [the beds] are sown in the length, he sows them [the interspaces] in the breadth, and vice versa.15  Rabina objected to R. Ashi: The planting16  of one vegetable with another [requires] six handbreadths [square],17  and they are regarded

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Lit., 'an ox-head'.
  2. Sown with other crops. Fields were generally ended off in a triangular shape.
  3. Though it comes right up to the other crops, one can see that there has been no indiscriminate sowing (cf. note on our Mishnah, p. 403, n. 5); the same should apply here.
  4. Because in the proposed case there is nothing to show that the different strips are distinct.
  5. Rashi: From north to south, crossing the middle seeds, this furrow being either of one of the five seeds or of a sixth. Tosaf: The furrow is drawn right round the four sides of the plot but deepened (by a handbreadth) and the question is whether this deepening constitutes a distinguishing mark, so that it shall be permitted.
  6. I.e., it is not a distinguishing mark, but on the contrary breaks up the separateness of the other strips, and so is forbidden.
  7. Two rows constitute a field, and therefore each plant is regarded as in a separate field, though they are in proximity to each other.
  8. This proves that a single row effects a prohibited intermingling.
  9. Their leaves become entangled above as they grow high. On this account they are forbidden.
  10. Of different kinds.
  11. Lit., 'make'.
  12. Thus (see drawing): planting in this way shows that there has been no indiscriminate intermingling.
  13. Viz., the borders which are to be left fallow, v. supra a.
  14. R. Johanan's phrase 'his whole garden' is not meant literally, but merely applies to the seed-beds into which it is divided.
  15. in this way literally the whole garden can be filled.
  16. Lit., 'working'.
  17. I.e., within a bed of this area it is possible to plant a number of different kinds of vegetables, as stated in our Mishnah.