INSIGHTS TO THE DAF
The Gemora cites Rabbi Yoshia’s opinion, that one is only liable for kil’ai hakerem – a hybrid vineyard if he sows a grape seed and two grain seeds simultaneously.
Although we rule like Rabbi Yoshia, the Rishonim differ on the parameters of his position.
Rashi implies that Rabbi Yoshia says that any prohibition of hybrid only applies when one plants three species together.
Tosfos (54a dagan) says that Rabbi Yoshia indeed says there is no Torah prohibition of a hybrid vineyard except in the case of simultaneously sowing the three species. However, he does agree that sowing the two non-grape species together is a prohibition of kil’ai zra’im – hybrid sowing. If one planted these two seeds together with a grape seed, he actually simultaneously violates two prohibitions – kil’ai zra’im and kil’ai hakerem.
The Rambam rules that although only violates the prohibition of kil’ai hakerem by sowing three seeds simultaneously, if one planted a grain or vegetation in an existing vineyard, the resulting crop is prohibited from eating and benefit.
The Ra’avad says that Rabbi Yoshia’s statement is limited to one being liable for lashes, but Rabbi Yoshia agrees that one may not plant even one seed together with a grapeseed.
Some say (see Lechem Mishneh Ma’achalos Asuros 10:6) that the Rambam says that it is prohibited from the Torah to plant one seed with a grapeseed.
Based on these different positions, the Rishonim would read the Gemora’s question slightly differently. The Gemora had said that the logical argument to require terumah for each species was due to the fact that the different species were prohibited to be planted together. The Gemora challenged this argument according to Rabbi Yoshia’s position, as mixing grains or a grain with a grape would be permitted. According to Rashi, the Gemora’s question is to be read exactly as stated, as Rabbi Yoshia would permit both types of mixtures on their own. According to Tosfos, the Gemora’s question is actually only from the case of mixing a grain with a grape, but not from the case of mixing grains, as Rabbi Yoshia agrees that mixing grains is prohibited as kil’ai zera’im. According to Ra’avad (and perhaps the Rambam), the Gemora’s question is actually only from the case of mixing grains, which Rabbi Yoshia would permit, but not from the case of mixing a grain with grape, as he agrees that that is prohibited, albeit not punished with lashes.
HALACHOS FROM THE DAF
Immersion of a Ba’al Keri
The Gemora cites a braisa: It is written [Devarim 4:9]: Make them known to your children and your children’s children and the next verse states: The day that you stood before Hashem, your G-d in Choreb. We derive from the juxtaposition of the two verses that just as when the Jews stood at Mount Sinai and received the Torah, they did so in dread and awe, with trembling and fear, so too, when Torah is being studied in all future generations, it must be learned with dread and awe, with trembling and fear. They said: One who is a zav, metzora or one who had relations with a niddah is permitted to read the Torah, Prophets and Writings, and he can study the Medrash, Talmud, Halacha and any Aggadic teachings. It is learned from here that a baal keri, one who experienced a seminal emission, is prohibited from reading the Torah, Prophets and Writings, nor can he study the Medrash, Talmud, Halacha and any Aggadic teachings. This is because the baal keri developed a tumah which occurred through levity and this is in contrast to the feelings of awe which are required when studying Torah.
The Gemora in Brochos (22a) states that one who is a baal keri should immerse himself in a ritual bath before studying Torah or praying. This is known as Tevilas Ezra.
The Gemora (ibid) states that nowadays Tevilas Ezra has been nullified. The Rif explains: Some say that it was nullified completely and a baal keri is not required to immerse himself in a mikvah prior to studying Torah or praying and others say that it was limited to studying Torah, but one would still be required to immerse himself in a mikvah prior to praying. He concludes: It is not required to immerse in a mikvah; nine kavin of water poured on his body will be sufficient.
Rabbeinu Hai Gaon states: Since it is not explicit in the Gemora, a baal keri must follow the custom of all the Jewish people and he should not commence to pray until he washes himself.
The Raavad in Sefer Haeshkol asked Rabbeinu Hai Gaon as to what should be done if one becomes a baal keri on Shabbos or on a festival when he cannot immerse himself in a mikvah. He responded that he remembers many Shabbosos being by Rav Aharon Gaon when they prayed in his house and Rav Aharon Gaon would not pray at all.
The Rambam (Hilchos Krias Shema) writes that Ezra’s enactment did not spread throughout Klal Yisroel and a majority of the community was not able to maintain it, therefore it became nullified. It has become the custom throughout Klal Yisroel to study Torah and recite Kerias Shema even while they are a baal keri since Torah is not susceptible to becoming tamei.
The Rambam in Hilchos Tefillah (4:4) writes that Ezra instituted that a baal keri should not study Torah until he immerses himself in a mikvah and a later Beis Din extended this decree to include tefillah. This was not on the account of tumah, but rather because they did not want the Talmudic scholars to be constantly with their wives like roosters. The decree regarding tefillah became nullified because the original enactment did not catch on throughout Klal Yisroel and a majority of the community was not able to maintain it. It has become the custom in certain areas for a baal keri not to pray until he washes his entire body with water based on the verse: One should prepare himself before greeting Hashem, the G-d of Israel.
The sefer Brocha Mishuleshes writes that it only became nullified in instances where one cannot locate a water source, however where water is accessible, a baal keri should not study Torah or pray until he washes himself. He concludes that one Beis Din does not have the power to nullify the decrees of a previous Beis Din.
It is written in Shailos V’teshuvos min Hashamayim (5): It is this fact (the people who are a baal keri and pray without immersing themselves) that has caused the exile to be so long. If Klal Yisroel’s tefillah would be in the proper way, our prayers would have been accepted years before.
He concludes: Perhaps we cannot accomplish that every baal keri should immerse himself in a mikvah prior to his tefillah, but at least the chazzan (leader of the services) should immerse himself and it will be in this merit that will hasten the Redemption.
Shulchan Aruch (O”C 88) rules that Ezra’s decree has been nullified and a baal keri can pray and study Torah without immersing himself. The Magen Avraham writes: Even though that one Beis Din does not have the power to nullify the decrees of a previous Beis Din unless they are greater in wisdom or numbers, since this enactment never caught on throughout Klal Yisroel, it can become nullified.
The Mishnah Berurah writes that one who has the custom to purify himself through immersion should only do so if he will not neglect the correct time to recite kerias shema and tefillah He adds that possibly, if immersing in the mikvah will result that he will not be able to pray along with a minyan, it is preferable not to go to the mikvah.
It is written in the sefer Meor V’shemesh: It is impossible to comprehend the true meaning of fearing Hashem if one is not careful in regards to this immersion. If one studies Kabbalah without purifying himself, the learning will result in heresy. He cites from the Baal Shem Tov and the Rebbe Reb Elimelech that one who wishes to comprehend Torah and mitzvos must be careful in this immersion, otherwise they will not be capable of reaching the heights they wish to attain.