• Of trees, plants and mixtures

Of trees, plants and mixtures

1. The prohibition to graft trees of different species in effect even today. This law does not apply only to eretz Yisroel but also in other parts of the world. It does not apply to grafting two non-fruit-bearing trees. It only is in effect concerning the actual grafting, not cross planting. Also the law of cross breeding two animals, birds, etc. is also in effect even today and also not limited to Eretz Yisroel. A not so well known fact is the opinion of most authorities that a non-Jew is also restricted from performing such acts. The punishment is not as severe as the seven noachide laws but nonetheless is forbidden. Therefore, it also follows, that a Jew cannot direct or assist a non Jew in such acts for it constitutes “Lifne Ever”.

2. The prohibition of sowing various species of seeds together is forbidden only in Eretz Yisroel. The Rabbonim did not even impose a Rabbinic restriction outside of Eretz Yisroel. The Torah law only restricts the actual sowing of the seeds together. The Rabbonim, as a fence, restricted planting in close proximity. However, they imposed this only if the two plants are close enough to draw nourishment from each other and also the visual impression is one of a mixture of plants. Hence, one may even plant two seeds in one hole provided they can be directed to face different directions and thereby not give an appearance of mixture.

3. The Torah prohibition of Kilei Hakerem is more severe. This is the sowing together of two diverse seeds with a grape seed. Unlike the previous category of mixture, this combination results in the product being forbidden for human benefit. Because of this extra stringency, the Chazal also imposed a Rabbinic restriction outside of Eretz Yisroel. Even the placing of a flowerpot in the vicinity of a vineyard could possibly be classified as an infraction of this rule.

4. During the first three years of the growth of a tree the fruits produced are forbidden for human benefit. This rule called Orla is in effect even outside of Eretz Yisroel. The fruits of the fourth year are deemed sacred and must be consumed in Yerushalayim or redeemed onto coins. This is in effect even today and a proper bracha would be recited. Outside of Eretz Yisroel it probably does not take effect. The Chochmas Odom does suggest redeeming the fourth year’s growth of vines even outside of Eretz Yisroel, but without reciting a brocha. The fruits of Orla outside of Eretz Yisroel only pose a problem when we are sure of their status, otherwise we need not worry.