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Torah prohibition on Mixing Seeds.

 
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Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:I wonder how they even had all these questions in like 1490 (I think that's when the Mishnah was written)?



Oy! You are not ready to try to convince a Temple to do anything! Read up at least a little on the Mishnah.
Then take a look at this:


It's got a line or phase or mitzvah and then all around it are the best arguements/interpretations of that law. So if you find the one on "mixing seeds" you see the original line from the OT and then, literally, two thousand years worth of discussion! Much of it conflicting!!!

I think there is a good case for "permifying" the grounds of a temple. Have you sat in a Succah? What if those grapes were permanent?

Most American Jews will not see this law as an issue. Don't bring it up but prepare a few answer if they do.
 
Cj Sloane
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Tina Paxton wrote:Well, you know, there was this other Rabbi around 30-ish AD who was a bit radical in his views of the Talmud.



Yes, but that would/should be a separate thread.

Jack Spirko thinks people could make a good living convincing Churches to "permify" their grounds. The same concepts apply to Jewish congregations.

This particular thread is about an interesting problem for very religious Jews. For sure there are loop holes but none of them involve "yashua hamashiach."
 
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Cj Verde wrote:

Tina Paxton wrote:Well, you know, there was this other Rabbi around 30-ish AD who was a bit radical in his views of the Talmud.



Yes, but that would/should be a separate thread.

Jack Spirko thinks people could make a good living convincing Churches to "permify" their grounds. The same concepts apply to Jewish congregations.

This particular thread is about an interesting problem for very religious Jews. For sure there are loop holes but none of them involve "yashua hamashiach."



Sorry, didn't mean to chance a rabbit trail. I am aware that the approach to the question at hand would not include Yeshua Hamashiach. As I stated elsewhere, the key is getting to know the individual congregation and determining where they are in terms of beliefs/feelings about gardening. How one approaches a liberal Jewish congregation would be totally different than how one approaches an Orthodox or Conservative Jewish congregation. And, even within each sect, individual synogogues will be different (presuming there is as much shades of difference amongst synogogues as there are amongst Christian church fellowhips.)

I think the idea of "permifying" church grounds (of all faiths) is a great idea. How one addresses each church depends on knowing their feelings on various issues so as to present the idea in the correct light.
 
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Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:No wonder they then had to write the Gemarah. The Interpretation of the Interpretation of the Torah. 2 billion pages long, no index.



Now you're getting somewhere!

But really, make your pitch and leave this law out. Here's a tip, if the congregation has no problem with same sex marriage, this law is not going to get in the way of planting a mixed species orchard on the grounds of the synagogue. If you can work out a plan that includes a synagogue owned hive for their own honey at Rosh Hashana, you're golden!
 
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Personally, if I was Jewish and wanted to be strict about this, I would be careful about applying English translations of Christian Old Testament passages as my primary guide on this. Now, if input came from a practiced Hebrew scholar, I would consider it. But, I'd want to be very clear I understood the Hebrew text, how those same words were used in other places in the Torah or the writings of the prophets, and I'd want to have a strong understanding of the context within which Moses was communicating. As others have suggested, a trusted rabbinic source would be a better place to start than Protestants quoting the Old Testament.

This is what is published by The Jewish Virtual Library:

The Mixing of Seed

The prohibition applies to the sowing together of two kinds of grains if they are regarded as belonging to different species (see below), or of grain and legume, as well as of other edible plants. A lenient ruling was given regarding vegetables, which were customarily sown in small beds, and it was permitted to sow five species at specified distances from one another in a bed one cubit square and with variations even 13 species (Kil. 3:l). According to most authorities, it is obligatory to separate fields sown with different species by the space of a rova (104 square cubits) or of three furrows (two cubits). In the opinion of some commentators, including Solomon Sirillio and Elijah Gaon of Vilna, the measures mentioned in the Mishnah (Kil. 2:6–10) refer to the size of the plot near which a different kind may be sown (and not to the space by which they must be separated), since plots of this size and larger have the appearance of separate fields, and there is no fear that they may be thought to have been planted indiscriminately, nor is there any risk that the different species will derive sustenance from one another. The prohibition of mixed seeds applies only in Ereẓ Israel, while the prohibitions of the other mixed species are of universal application (Kid. 39a).



Here is a link from where this quote originated and there is a pretty understandable discussion of definition of terms and the reasoning for the prohibition: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0014_0_14019.html

The content at the link does touch on the notion of polycultures (again, for those physically in Israel). It was a very interesting read, I thought.
 
Cj Sloane
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Dan Grubbs wrote:

...nor is there any risk that the different species will derive sustenance from one another.




That is that part that really gets me! Mainly because sometimes we know that's a good thing, and sometimes it's a bad thing (allelopathy)!
 
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That's a good point, and also what's occurred to me is that Halakha is always suspended when health or safety are at risk. For example, if you are in the danger of a famine or if you're ill you don't fast or you can eat non-kosher food. In NYC the water has mini-crustaceans in it, and since people need to drink water, the rabbis made a dispensation that you can drink the water.

With food security and health at stake, plus not knowing what someone's doing to your food if you're buying at the store (a more modern problem), there's an argument for suspending the halakha and just getting people growing food in any way possible, getting people in touch with their food supply and opening up their minds to learn more ideas, knowing a multitude of ways of acheiving people care, earth care, and fair share. Whether you use all of what you learn or not is a separate decision, but knowing it is important, and growing food sustainably is a part of ethical stewardship of God's earth.

You could always say, Plant it now, figure out whether it's kosher to eat it later. You can always pull out the plants later if you find out it's a real problem.

(Anyway halakhic means "of the path" not "rules and regulations" --as I understand it it's more principle or guideline than a boundary you have to avoid crossing at all expense.)

Ive got some talking points here, and some foodf or thought.

Also, I think if ONE church or synagogue on the street gets on the bandwagon, the rest will see and be much more likely to get on too. You see the church down the street swarming with congregants armed with smiles and shovels and you see a goooooooorgeous raised bed with rocks show up, you're gonna start thinking about new possibilities.
 
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Would a bed planted in rows of various plants be a way to proceed?
There is a practical benefit to knowing where things are. A row of carrots
next to a row of lettuce, beets next to that and so forth.

My grandfather had a vineyard of muscadines. When he planted regular
grapes in a portion of it the wine from the regular grapes had a hint of the
muscadines in it. Well, in my opinion it was more than a hint.
 
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Joshua,

Thanks for starting this thread.. and reinvigorating it lately.

I'm curious if you ever got around to talking to a rabbi about all this. Maybe finding a local Chabad house would be a good start? Beyond satisfying your halachic query, it could also be an interesting way to find a sympathetic ear.. and maybe even introduce you to other connections down the road.

Just don't give up. I'm of the opinion that this sort of thing is absolutely essential. I've been sort of mulling over similar ideas for cohesive religious groups.
 
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B.E. Ward wrote:Maybe finding a local Chabad house would be a good start?



I think that's a bad place to start. Although they have embraced some new technology like computers/mobile phones they are still dressing like the height of fashion in Poland during the 1700s.

It's also not your best leverage point. What's that Mollisonian quote? The best leverage point will give you the most change for the least effort? I think they'd be your worst leverage point.

Also, it sound like you are probably not actually a Jew, certainly in their eyes, and that could be a real sticking point.

I really don't think this law is going to get in the way of a good permaculture plan for a synagogue. Are you familiar with the Jubilee_(biblical) concept? I once asked my Rabbi how this could have possibly worked and he said there was no indication this law was followed, and certainly not today. It would throw all real estate transactions in Israel into chaos.
 
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Cj Verde wrote:I'm going to have to mulled this one over for a while. There are lots of prohibitions against all kinds of mixing and yet... Jews have been "mixing" with other cultures for 3000 years. I guess the key is how to mix cultures, people, plants, and remain distinct individuals.



Then again CJ, the Hebrew scriptures are a rather sad testament to how a chosen people stubbornly insist on doing things their own way over and over again. I personally wouldn't take the nation of Israel as a template for obedience to the word. Remember too that YWH eventually exiled the entire Israelite nation because of their "adulterous" behaviour. The Jews only retained their identity because they preserved some key elements of their set apartness and never really integrated with the nations in which they lived.
 
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Cj Verde wrote:

B.E. Ward wrote:Maybe finding a local Chabad house would be a good start?



I think that's a bad place to start. Although they have embraced some new technology like computers/mobile phones they are still dressing like the height of fashion in Poland during the 1700s.

It's also not your best leverage point. What's that Mollisonian quote? The best leverage point will give you the most change for the least effort? I think they'd be your worst leverage point.

Also, it sound like you are probably not actually a Jew, certainly in their eyes, and that could be a real sticking point.

I really don't think this law is going to get in the way of a good permaculture plan for a synagogue. Are you familiar with the Jubilee_(biblical) concept? I once asked my Rabbi how this could have possibly worked and he said there was no indication this law was followed, and certainly not today. It would throw all real estate transactions in Israel into chaos.



I agree that this law will only get in the way if the people in charge don't want a permaculture garden, similar to Mollison's anecdote regarding universities and parking lots.

If the Hebrew University in Jerusalem can have a statue of Nimrod erected out the front then a polyculture garden can't be so bad
 
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Cj Verde wrote:

B.E. Ward wrote:Maybe finding a local Chabad house would be a good start?



I think that's a bad place to start. Although they have embraced some new technology like computers/mobile phones they are still dressing like the height of fashion in Poland during the 1700s.

It's also not your best leverage point. What's that Mollisonian quote? The best leverage point will give you the most change for the least effort? I think they'd be your worst leverage point.

Also, it sound like you are probably not actually a Jew, certainly in their eyes, and that could be a real sticking point.



To be clear, my suggestion to Joshua was that *he* visit a Chabad house. Seeing as how he's Jewish and attempting to satisfy this mitzvah (or at least have it interpreted to his satisfaction), and seeing as how Chabad is essentially an 'evangelical' Jewish organization with deep and widespread roots I figure the two might be a good match. I'm also not sure what their dress has much to do with anything.. they're just attempting to do what G-d (I write it like that out of respect to them) wants them to.

My own interests lie in trying to help Orthodox Christian parishes move towards more permaculture. We clearly don't have the same halachic requirements, but our problems have more to do with limited resources and education.
 
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B.E. Ward wrote:

Cj Verde wrote:
My own interests lie in trying to help Orthodox Christian parishes move towards more permaculture. We clearly don't have the same halachic requirements, but our problems have more to do with limited resources and education.



I second that regarding the limited resources....I'd love to "permify" my church but we are a very small and very poor church and at least 2/3 of the regulars are elderly.... That doesn't stop me from looking at the church & parsonage grounds and dreaming of what it could be and the amount of food it could produce for our folks...

 
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Tina Paxton wrote:
I second that regarding the limited resources....I'd love to "permify" my church but we are a very small and very poor church and at least 2/3 of the regulars are elderly.... That doesn't stop me from looking at the church & parsonage grounds and dreaming of what it could be and the amount of food it could produce for our folks...



My latest idea has been to start what I would call an 'Internal Spin Market Garden'. Basically form a small group of us that would go out, build, and tend small plots on parishioners' properties (raised or otherwise). The yield would then initially be split three ways.. 1/3 to the needy, 1/3 to the property owners, and 1/3 to be sold within the parish. The funds from that last 1/3 would go directly to the church. If it turns out to be successful enough, another chunk of the yield could be split off to sell to established CSAs, restaurants, or at farmers markets.

A way to sort of 'permie-up' the process a little would be to encourage owners to allow us to plant small-scale fruit and nut guilds on their properties as well.
 
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Hey that's a really neat concept!

OK, with spin, you do need a certain amount of up front investment in equipment for the sake of productivity and scale. Spin also focusses on the most profitable crops which are usually ones that grow fast and need the least care. Salad greens are a good example.

For a congregation, endless salad greens might not be the best fit, however I think the concept has legs. Like spin, you can plan crops depending on what a specific location offers in its micro-climate. A portion can be used to maintain the operation (equipment, compost, seeds, gas etc), and there can be a good balanced variety that aren't necessarily the most profitable (like parsnips and carrots).

Maybe you can start a thread on this and interested people can contribute to building a framework tailored to ministry.
 
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I'm not Jewish, but I implement the Torah wherever I can, I believe the Law is for our benefit always. When I read it, I understand it to mean to prevent cross-pollination between varieties. However, I understand, that my understanding of it does match your goals of doing what you want to get done. If Churches would spend more time feeding the poor from gardens, and less time trying to build the biggest fellowship hall in town, we would all be better off. Good luck with your goals.
 
Cj Sloane
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B.E. Ward wrote:
To be clear, my suggestion to Joshua was that *he* visit a Chabad house. Seeing as how he's Jewish and attempting to satisfy this mitzvah (or at least have it interpreted to his satisfaction), and seeing as how Chabad is essentially an 'evangelical' Jewish organization with deep and widespread roots I figure the two might be a good match. I'm also not sure what their dress has much to do with anything.. they're just attempting to do what G-d (I write it like that out of respect to them) wants them to.



Maybe Joshua can chime in here but I think he said he was raised Jewish ish which is not the same. One of my first cousins is Lubavitcha, I really don't think it'll work. They are forbidden to be evangelical if the person is not Jewish.

Anyway, the way they dress is indicative of unwillingness to embrace change. God did not command anyone to dress like the Polish nobility of 300 years ago.

I do think religious buildings/ground are great public places that could/should have permaculture plans but maybe it's time to start a new thread to cross pollinate ideas. I have no idea what forum that would go in.
 
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I wonder if this will really be an issue if you don't bring it up.

The reason I wonder about this is that the majority of people know very little about plants at all and find the subject completely dull and boring. They understand plants grow from seed, some understand that plants make food from light, a few even know that plants need certain nutrients to grow.

Topics like monoculture vs. polyculture are so far beyond the average persons level of understanding that you might as well be explaining the virtues of mycorrhizal plant interactions to your chickens.

I would just go ahead and do it. If anyone who is half awake asks a question about mixing plants, I'd manage it with a reasonable counter question, like asking them to clarify the meaning of mixing (is mixing one plant between two other plants, one row between two different rows, or the artificial blending of genes from dissimilar plants?). That's beyond 95% of the populations will to investigate, because most people who ask questions aren't really looking for an accurate answer but rather they want to appear to be knowledgeable, or want to be reassured that you know what you're talking about.

Remember that these people are on a Wheaton eco scale of 1 or 2 so you have to communicate with them on one level higher.
 
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Cj Verde wrote:
I do think religious buildings/ground are great public places that could/should have permaculture plans but maybe it's time to start a new thread to cross pollinate ideas. I have no idea what forum that would go in.



Perhaps it can go in the Permaculture forum? I think it would be a great discussion but agree that we should not hijack this thread.
 
Cj Sloane
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Tina Paxton wrote:

Cj Verde wrote:
I do think religious buildings/ground are great public places that could/should have permaculture plans but maybe it's time to start a new thread to cross pollinate ideas. I have no idea what forum that would go in.



Perhaps it can go in the Permaculture forum?



Either there or Urban or Community. I say Urban because even in the rural area where I live, Houses of worship are in town.

You could start a thread in any of those forums and a moderator will move it or cross link it if they think it's appropriate.
 
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Cj Verde wrote:

Tina Paxton wrote:

Cj Verde wrote:
I do think religious buildings/ground are great public places that could/should have permaculture plans but maybe it's time to start a new thread to cross pollinate ideas. I have no idea what forum that would go in.



Perhaps it can go in the Permaculture forum?



Either there or Urban or Community. I say Urban because even in the rural area where I live, Houses of worship are in town.

You could start a thread in any of those forums and a moderator will move it or cross link it if they think it's appropriate.



Okay, here we go: http://www.permies.com/t/43036/urban/Brainstorming-Permify-religious-buildings-grounds#337757
 
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Varina Lakewood wrote:It's interesting. I looked up that verse in one of the fairly accurate more modern versions of the Bible.  It read: "Do not plant two crops in your vineyard, or both will be ruined."
Sounds like crossbreeding to me. If you think about it, it makes sense, because the FIRST thing you learn when you check into breeding plants is that most hybrids are weaker and less desirable than the parent crops, not only that, but they don't come true to seed. (Hard to remember, I guess, when we have so many successful hybrids on the market, but actually quite true.) If you interplanted all your seed crop and the seed came out hybrid...well, they say it takes 8 generations of plants to successfully stabilize a hybrid into an OP variety. In the meantime, if that was your main food crop, you could starve to death. If it was your main cash crop, you would lose money and customers, and put yourself in a bad spot. Even if neither of these was true, you'd still have lost the true heirloom strains that had been in your family for generations, which would be a different kind of tragedy.



I reflected for a while on this and have a slightly different view on this, without not necessary contradicting the other views. For me this goes into, not deceiving in business, but towards the "What you see is what you get"-principle:

- When you put different seeds into the same fields, it gets difficult to assess what the harvest actually is. What's the percentage of which field fruit which may have different values? Bear in mind that this was offered to others as well as a medium of exchange. So what would be the right price for it and how would the other side have to estimate its value.
- Different kinds of cattle is another thing there. One gets something like "hybrid vigor" in the F1 generation. That makes the animal look healthier in terms of phenotype, but doesn't tell you everything about the genotype you are actually dealing with. The F2 and following generation may yield far weaker results then. And cattle was again used as capital for further breeding by the buyer. Who may have overestimate the value, he's getting as result of mentioned effect.
- Mixing linen and woolen is similar, how can the buyer assess what he's getting there? Bear in mind that buyers includes people that may just lack the essentials of doing a accurate and precise assessment.

Those honesty rules become more clear as such, when you look-up the verses a bit earlier:

Leviticus 19:11Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another. 12And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.

13 Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning. 14Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumblingblock before the blind, but shalt fear thy God: I am the LORD.

15 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour. 16 Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD.

17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. 18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.



It then goes further with the rules in question:


Leviticus 19:19 Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee.


So it may be less a matter of agriculture/technical question than a matter of business ethics and practices that start in production of the commodities.







 
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I am just thinking that it is the desert so poisonous look alike. I know it is sometimes hard for me to tell carrots greens apart differently from poison hemlock.

Also if I am buying $100 wheat, i dont want it to be cut with $9 spelt supposedly by accident so dont try to trick me. And what if spelt grain took an extra 20days to ripen and if you harvest it early togather all as one it will be high in estrogen or some dangerous plant hormone/chemical and then all of a sudden I am defiled.

I think it was mostly with seed grains and not with fruit trees or vegetable, etc.

I think that when it came to fruit trees it was different where you shouldn't force the fruit tree to harvest in the 1st 3year let the energy go towards the root/soil system. I also remember where it says that if you see a fruit tree not producing it was common to give it another 7years, don't be in a rush to force nature to nature to just give you short term gains instead we should let nature fix what needs to be fixed (say the soil).

There was also another part where it said if you are about to build your house and if you see an existing fruit tree it is basically "scared" and you should instead build your house somewhere else, but dont even think about cutting it down.
 
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R White wrote:
So it may be less a matter of agriculture/technical question than a matter of business ethics and practices that start in production of the commodities.




Amazing what we can learn when we look at writings with an unbiased eye, or from a different perspective.  Some folks want to take things out of context to support a pre-existing bias.


What you wrote makes a LOT of sense, if taken the context you do.   I am not that familiar, so will defer to your research, but if one does indeed follow the other, it really COULD be as simple as this.
 
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Interesting to see this old thread find new life.

For many of these Levitical prohibitions, the primary concern was that the Hebrew people not participate in the detestable practices of their pagan neighbors.  Again and again, the downfall of Israel was adoption of their pagan deities and worship practices.  Thus, the injunction against boiling a baby goat or sheep in it's mother's milk was because this was a practice of the wicked Canaanites.  That was a part of a larger idolatry that Gods people were warned to stay far away from.  Orthodox Jews, not wanting to make a mistake and somehow mix the dairy with the meat in a person's stomach went so far as to prohibit meat and dairy from being served at the same meal.  That's why you won't find butter or a glass of milk at the next Seder meal—don't ask for cream for your coffee.

Thus, the prohibition in many of these Levitical laws is about steering clear of the common practices of the non-Jewish religions that surrounded them and threatened to compromise their faith.  The practical outworking of this seen repeatedly throughout the Old Testament, from Solomon allowing his many non-Hebrew wives to bring with them their foreign deities (and the nation ultimately being punished for it), going forward, the nation going into exile twice from the land (again, in punishment for adopting the idols of their neighbors) and even in matters like rebuilding the walls and temple post-exile (when Nehemiah and Ezra continually had to discipline the people for their drifting back into pagan ways).  The idea is that small compromises lead to larger ones down the road.  

There is certainly truth to that.

It is interesting that Jesus' parable of the wheat and the tares would have been taught against this backdrop of co-mingling seeds.  He certainly would have known that passage and injunction.  Wheat and tares look very similar as they grow, but tares are poisonous.  An enemy who hated the farmer threw tare seeds into the newly seeded field and the workers discovered it after both had sprouted.  The farmer instructs his workers to not try to root-out the tares, because in doing so, they would probably trample all over the wheat and would most likely uproot a bunch of the wheat in the process.  He instructed them, "Let them grow side-by-side.  We'll do the separation at harvest time."  

The meaning of the parable: in this world good and evil will exist side-by-side, and it may be difficult to sort them out.  If you go on a personal rampage to get rid of all the bad people, you're going to wreck a lot of good stuff in the process.  But in the end, the wheat will be harvested while the tares will go into the fire to be burned up.  Obviously, for Christ's audience, it had a profoundly spiritual meaning.  From a farmer's perspective, it also is wise advise—observe before you act.  From a permaculture perspective, I'm pretty sure that Christ wasn't taking a stand against companion planting, nor is the Old Testament prohibition about being anti three sisters guilds.
 
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I've been continually referencing your forum while building my greenhouse, but I registered for this thread

A couple of things spring to mind. First, start with reform and conservative and modern Orthodox congregations. They might bring up Halacha concerns, but they aren't going to be sticklers for what's in the Mishna - the spirit will matter more than the letter.

Regarding the prohibition itself, I (not a Torah scholar) would be FAR more inclined to think it somehow related to the leaving the corners of the field unharvested. I think if you can show that permaculture is about first returning an unnatural habitat to a more natural state and THEN planting your 'crop' seeds, and also if you stick to rows and don't mix the seeds during planting, you can make a case that part of this was perhaps to make it easier for the poor of a community to know when a field is open to them. If there are multiple crops, how does someone walking by know whether the field has been harvested or not? How do they know what they can take and what they must leave? Multiple crops makes this much more difficult, and I think 9/10 rabbis would agree leaving the corners for the poor is the more important mitzvot vs. in what order you return an ecology to a plantable state.

If you go in with a solid plan for observing the loosest interpretation of the sowing law (rows, don't sow the seeds at the same time), and ALSO a solid plan for observing a stricter interpretation of the corners of the field law (can you get the bar mitzvah class to harvest and take it to a food bank or an organization in a food-deprived neighborhood or the local Jewish nursing home? Or ALL THREE?) I think you'll meet open minds.
 
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wayne stephen wrote: I like what Lewis Black has to say about Christians interpreting the Torah. "You never see a Rabbi on TV interpreting the New Testament  , do you ! ".  



However, it occurs to me that a New Testament parable may shed some light. In the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, the landowner was surprised when tares came up in his wheat field. "Didn't you plant good seed?" was the question asked. In the parable, an enemy came in the night and sowed the tares. If this parable accurately reflects the culture of the day, we have to ask, why were the weeds (tares) so surprising, and why did they come up only because an enemy sowed them? This seems very strange to me given the ubiquity of weeds that sow themselves. I wonder if something about the farming practices of the day made for "pure" fields without weeds, sown with "pure" seeds?
 
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