VEGETABLES

A distinction must be made between the two kinds of vegetables which the Mishnah calls respectively "garden vegetables" and "field vegetables," i.e., that grow wild in the field. Field vegetables were gathered from earliest times as is reflected in the curse upon Adam and Eve, "And thou shalt eat the herb of the field" (Gen. 3:18). A large number of field vegetables grow in Ereẓ Israel, particularly in the winter, and some are tasty and nutritious. There is a probable reference to them in Proverbs 15:17, "Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith." mallow leaves, orach , and species of maror were consumed by the indigent, and in times of famine they wandered about in search of wild vegetables such as rocket . There must also have been many other varieties. The growing of garden vegetables developed from the wild variety, and there is no doubt that their cultivation dates from ancient times, both in Israel and neighboring countries, particularly Egypt and Babylon, which are rich in water (Deut. 11:10). In Israel, too, there were many gardens which received their water from wells, springs, and rivers by means of pumps (see Agricultural Methods and Implements in Ancient Ereẓ Israel ). Vegetables were also served at royal tables; Ahab coveted Naboth's vineyard, "that I may have it for a garden of vegetables" (I Kings 21:2). Seasonal vegetables were served at royal tables all the year round; the Midrash states of Solomon's household that it was supplied with beet (teradin) in the summer and with "chate melons " (kishu'in; the Cucumis melon var chate) in the winter (Deut. R. 1:5). Similarly, it is related of the emperor Antoninus and Judah ha-Nasi, "that lettuce , chate melon, and radish were not absent from their tables either summer or winter" (Av. Zar. 11a). Vegetables in season were abundant and cheap. Opinions differed on the nutritional value of vegetables. Generally speaking, cooked vegetables were valued, although people were apprehensive about eating them raw (see Ber. 44b). Five garden vegetables are mentioned in one verse among the foods eaten by the Israelites in Egypt for which they yearned in the wilderness (Num. 11:5), these being chate melon, watermelon, leek , onion , and garlic . In rabbinical literature, scores of species of garden and field vegetables are mentioned, and in addition to those on which separate articles appear, the following are important. -Artichoke Called in the Mishnah kinras, it is the Cynara scolymus; a very similar species grows wild in Israel and several halakhot discuss this vegetable (Kil. 5:8; Uk. 1:6). The word dardar in the verse, "Thorns also and dardar ('thistles') shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field," was explained to mean "artichokes," because it consists of rows (darim) upon rows (Gen. R. 20:10), referring to the leaves of the edible inflorescence. -Celery and Parsley The karpas of rabbinical literature has been identified with celery – Apium graveolens – which grows wild in Israel in damp localities. Apparently it is the wild species which is called karpas she-ba-neharot ("celery of the rivers"; Shev. 9:1), which the Jerusalem Talmud (Shev. 9:1, 38c) identifies with petrosilinon – parsley. According to another view, "the graft of fennel with celery produces petrosilinon" (TJ, Kil. 1:4, 27a). These three plants belong to the family Umbelliferae and are alike in appearance also and slightly similar in taste. It should be noted that Ashkenazi Jews use parsley instead of celery for the seder of Passover. -Colocasia The Colocasia antiquorum, whose large tuber is rich in starch, in rabbinical literature is called kolkasyah (TJ, Shev. 2:10, 34b) or kolkas (ibid., Pe'ah 1:5, 16c). It appears to have been recently introduced into Ereẓ Israel in the time of the Mishnah and the question of its liability to tithing is discussed (Pe'ah, ibid.). The Mishnah calls it karkas (Ma'as. 5:8). Ginger lily (Black cola) – Arum palaestinum – belongs to the same family. It is often mentioned in rabbinical literature where it is called luf. Its leaves and tuber were eaten after cooking to remove its bitter taste, and it was highly regarded. There are many references to the methods of growing and preserving it (v. Kil 2:5; Shev. 5:2 and 4). It grows wild in Israel and to the present day is eaten by Oriental Jews. Wild ginger – Arum dioscoridis – called lof ha-shotah also grows in Israel, its leaves being used for human consumption and its tubers for animal fodder (Shev. 7:1–2). -Cress Two species of cress are mentioned in the Mishnah. Shiḥlayim, garden cress – Lepidium latifolium – grew wild by the banks of rivers. Its pungent leaves were "sweetened" with salt or vinegar (Uk. 3:4). Purslane, the Portulaca oleracea, is a wild vegetable common during summer in gardens and fields. Its fleshy leaves are eaten raw as a salad or cooked. It is referred to in the Mishnah under two names, ḥalaglogot (Shev. 9:1) and regelah (Shev. 7:1, 9:5), and in the Talmud is called porpeḥinah (Meg. 18a). The Aramaic name porpeḥinah was current in the second century, and an interesting fact is recorded in connection with it. The rabbis did not know to what the Hebrew name ḥalaglogot referred until they learned from a maidservant of Judah ha-Nasi's household, where Hebrew was spoken, that it was porpeḥinah – purslane (ibid.). -Turnip and Rape The turnip, Brassica rapa, called in the Mishnah lefet, was a common kitchen vegetable. It was eaten raw, cooked or ground (TJ, Ter. 2:3, 41c), and "improves with long cooking" (TJ, Ber.   6:1, 10a). It was mainly the food of the poor, and hence the statement. "Woe to the house where the turnip is common." It was used to improve the flavor of meat (Ber. 44b). Rape, Brassica napus, in Hebrew nafos or nafoẓ, is very similar to the turnip in shape and flavor. They were therefore not regarded as mixed species (Kil. 1:3; see mixed species ), whereas radish and rape, alike in shape but different in flavor, were regarded as different species (TJ, Kil 1:5, 27a; but see Maim. Yad, Zera'im 3:6). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Loew. Flora, passim; Krauss, Tal Arch, 1 (1910), 116f.; J. Feliks, Olam ha-Ẓome'aḥ ha-Mikra'i (19682), 164–203; idem, Ha-Ḥakla'ut be-Ereẓ Yisrael bi-Tekufat ha-Mishnah ve-ha Talmud (1963), 300–12; idem, Kilei Zera'im ve-Harkavah (1967), 44–88. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Feliks, Ha-Ẓome'aḥ, 62, 90, 94, 95, 98, 103, 141, 149. (Jehuda Feliks)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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