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Kilei Hakerem on the Porch


My daughter planted grape seeds in a pot with drainage holes and 10 of them have sprouted. The pot is standing in a shelf on a porch.  I have got a lot of other fruit tree seedlings (apple, lemon, pomegranate and more) in similar pots on that porch, though not on the same shelf. We live in Israel.

1) Do the potted grape seedlings need a minimum distance from the other fruit tree seedlings while on the porch? If so, how much distance?

2) What about vegetables like tomatoes that grow on a table on the porch?

3) If I plan to plant the 10 grape seedlings into a garden that has other fruit trees (olives, citruses etc.) but no vegetables anywhere, how much distance is needed?

4) If I plant instead only one grapevine in the garden, how much distance to other trees?

5) How does one in general measure the distance from a grapevine to other plants? From the root/trunk or from the tips of the vines (which in a grown up plant can extend for meters from the trunk and grow longer throughout the summer)?


Rabbi Moshe Bloom

The prohibition of kilei hakerem applies only when planting grapevines next to plants not defined as trees (vegetables, legumes, and grains). For this reason, it is perfectly permissible for grapevines to be planted next to trees.

In general, the necessary distance required is: one ama from a single grapevine and four amot from a vineyard. A vineyard is defined as at least two rows with at least five grapevines in total (at least two grapevines in one row and three in the other row; in the words of Chazal: "שתיים כנגד שתיים ואחד יוצא זנב" "two in parallel and one protruding tail").

In your case, there is a question whether a pot can be considered a vineyard. In practice, one can be lenient and not consider it a vineyard (so a one-ama distance is enough), for several reasons: (1) the young grapevines will be later transplanted into a garden, (2) they are currently planted closely together, and (3) the vegetables on the table and are higher than the grapes.

Kilei hakerem applies on the porch and also at home.

Planting in a perforated pot, for the purposes of kilei hakerem, is considered the same as planting in the ground. For unperforated pots, there is room to be lenient when there is only one grapevine and not a vineyard.

For kilei zeraim, the prohibition is against marit ayin (so it won't look as if there is a mixture of plants growing together), so there is no problem with planting different vegetables in different pots close together, without any distance between them (since they are distinctly separate). However, this is still forbidden when it comes to kilei hakerem.

The necessary distance is measured from the trunk, not from the edge of the vine. However, if the vine spread out beyond this distance, it is forbidden to plant vegetables there; if the vine hangs over a vegetable garden, both the grapes and vegetables will be prohibited for consumption.

In practice: It seems that you can be lenient and you need to distance your vegetables only one ama (48 cm, according to R' Chaim Na'eh) from the grapevines. Just make sure that your grapevines don't hang over the vegetables.