Forbidden Mixtures (Kilayim)

Introduction to Forbidden Mixtures/Kilayim

The limits of kilayim keep:

  • Individual creations true to themselves, in the way they were created by God, and
  • Different, or opposing, spiritual forces governing creation in their own places and within their own bounds.

In the holiness of the Tabernacle or Temple, where opposites were peaceably and constructively resolved, kilayim in the form of sha'atnez was not only permitted but formed the foundation of all main tapestries and two of the High Priest's garments.

NOTE: The Shulchan Aruch lists over 120 halachot pertaining to kilayim in planting!

Kilayim-type laws apply today to:

  • Animals (not yoking an ox and donkey together; not interbreeding, say, a horse and a donkey to produce a mule),
  • Food (not eating milk with meat),
  • Clothing - not wearing a garment made of a mixture of linen and wool (sha'atnez), and
  • Plants (interplanting, interbreeding, and grafting different species).

NOTE: Vineyards in Eretz Yisrael may only be near fruit trees if:

  • A wall divides fruit tree and vineyard, OR
  • The vineyard is not a bona fide vineyard. A bona fide vineyard has at least 5 grapevines in at least two rows, with at least two vines in one row and three in the other.


Using an Animal Crossbred by Someone Else

You may not crossbreed animals, but you may use such an animal if it was already crossbred by someone else.


Planting in Eretz Yisrael

Do not plant two species of fruit or vegetable plants (and trees) together (“kilayim”) in Eretz YisraelThe prohibition covers all types of food-producing plants: herbs; vegetables; grains; trees….

EXAMPLE: In Eretz Yisrael, do not plant a vegetable with a fruit or grain or one type of vegetable with another type of vegetable, one type of fruit with a different type of fruit, and one type of grain with another type of grain.


Planting in Pots in Eretz Yisrael

Within Eretz Yisraelyou may not plant disparate species in the same pot if the pot:

  • Is made of wood or earthenware, or
  • Has a hole in the bottom, regardless of the material it is made from.

If the pot does not have a hole in the bottom and if it is made of plastic, glass, or metal, you may plant multiple species together.

Planting in Pots outside of Eretz Yisrael

Outside of Eretz Yisrael, plants in pots are not subject to kilayim laws.


Grafting When Kilayim

You may not:

  • Graft two trees of different species together (grafting a branch or shoot from one tree onto the trunk of a different type of tree).
  • Pay someone else to graft a tree for you, not even a non-Jew.

NOTE: You may use such a tree if it was already grafted by someone else.

Copyright 2015 Richard B. Aiken. Halacha L’Maaseh appears courtesy of Visit their website for more information.