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Kilei HaKerem abroud:

Rabbi Moshe Bloom

I have a garden in my small backyard in Brooklyn. My backyard is largely concrete with a small rectangle of soil in the back right corner. In the front left corner of the soil area, there is a single old grapevine that has been there since before we purchased our house 8 years ago. It produces grapes. I recently learned that Kilei HaKerem applies in Chu"l and wanted to make sure we arrange things properly. I have four basic questions:

(1) About one foot behind the trunk of the grapevine (i.e, the part where it comes out of the ground) we built a raised-garden bed (which sits on the soil). The garden bed is made out of wood and is two feet high. We usually plant lettuces, squash, and cucumbers in that garden bed. Do I have to worry at all about what is planted in that raised bed and its proximity to the trunk grapevine?

(2) To the right of the trunk of the grapevine we plant carrots and lavender in the ground. Those plantings are at least two feet away from where the grapevine comes out of the ground. Do we need to worry about that? In general, how far away do we need to make sure to start other plantings?

(3) In front of the grapevine, on the concrete section of my backyard we have some planters with herbs in them. Do we have to worry about proximity to the grapevine?

(4) We don't trellis the vine. It tends to spread out in lots of directions as vines tend to do. Do we have to worry about proximity to the actual vine part or just the trunk? If it is not too much of an imposition, I would be grateful if you could provide citations to support your answers. I would love to learn about these things inside the relevant sources. 

Grafting pecan scion onto an oak tree outside of Israel

Rabbi Moshe Bloom

I live in the Diaspora. I have three mature Burr Oaks growing in the front of my property which give a lot of burr acorns. They are edible, though we do not eat them. My property is too small to add pecan trees in it, and I do not wish to destroy good trees. Is there a halachic way to graft some pecan branches onto the burr oaks in order to yield pecan nuts?

Pesach: Taking terumot and ma'aserot from horseradish with a blessing

Rabbi Yehuda HaLevy Amichay

Do I need to separate terumot and ma'aserot from horseradish (chrain) with a blessing?

Pesach: Working with chametz on Pesach

Rabbi Yehuda HaLevy Amichay

My workplace is not particularly observant, so the religious employees take off on Pesach. The reason is primarily because our work, which involves raising insects (for agricultural research), requires handling a substrate that is possibly chametz. The mixture consists of sugar, yeast, water, a little bit of acid, and bran. Is this actually chametz? What should we do? Some of the employees are resentful that their religious coworkers "can't work" on chol hamo'ed, since this prevents everyone else from taking off during that time. In short: is it permissible to work on chol hamoed Pesach at this place?

Here are answers to clarifying questions:

  • Was the substrate prepared before or on Pesach?  Before Pesach.
  • Is it wet or dry?  Wet
  • Is it edible?  Not in the least. Not even fit for a dog. The larvae (of the flies we cultivate in the lab) feed off of it.
  • What is done with the substrate?  We place the fly eggs in it, and the larvae that develop from them feed off of it.
  • Is the yeast synthetic or from barley?  They are beer preserves.
  • Is the bran free of wheat kernels?  Yes, it consists of parts of the shell of the wheat kernels, but it does not include the kernels at all.

Pesach: Sprouting legumes (kitniyut) on Pesach

Rabbi Yehuda HaLevy Amichay

I'm performing my national service at the Science Garden, and we are planning an activity for Pesach about trees, burning, and renewal. We would also like to hold a workshop on sprouting seeds. Is it possible to sprout legumes (beans, hummus, lentils, peas, etc.)? Are legumes forbidden only to eat, or are all the prohibitions that pertain to chametz apply also to legumes?


Pesach: Eating watermelon and pumpkin seeds on Pesach

Rabbi Yaakov Ariel

Is it permitted to those who avoid legumes (kitniyut) to eat watermelon and pumpkin seeds on Pesach?


Pesach: What do we do with sheaves of wheat during Pesach

Rabbis of Torah VeHa'artez Institute

We went for a nature hike and the kids gathered sheaves of wheat. Is it permissible to keep these sheaves for decoration, even during Pesach, or is it considered chametz gamur? What should we do with all the sheaves?

Pesach: Selling products with wheat flour or protien

Rabbi Yaakov Ariel

Are we supposed to sell products what include wheat protein or wheat flour (soup mix, for example) with the chametz?

Pesach: Hydroponically grown maror (1)

Rabbis of Torah VeHa'artez Institute

Does one fulfill the obligation of maror grown hydroponically?


The ins and outs of taking challah

Rabbi Moshe Bloom

Is the mitzvah of taking challah tied to the Land of Israel? Does it apply abroad? Could you also please tell me, in short, what laws and procedures are involved in this mitzvah?