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Planting Qishuin* by Magic: A Talmud Tale

Telling by Jack Kellner

May 2022 | Iyar 5782


Rabbi Eliezer was a great Rabbi who lived in Judea (the Land of Israel) thousands of years ago. He was such a great Rabbi that he is the 6th most frequently mentioned sage in the Mishnah (oral Torah). Rabbi Eliezer had many students and was known for being very wise on many topics.

At the end of his life, Rabbi Eliezer is on his deathbed talking to a student. He thinks back to all of the things he knows and all of the things people asked him about and one thing really starts to bother him.

“You know what,” he said. “I know 300 [and some say he actually said 3,000] halachot/laws about planting qishuin and nobody asked me about it except for that one time when Rabbi Akiva asked…”

“Once upon a time, me and him were walking along a path and he said to me, ‘Rabbi teach me how to plant qishuin.’ I said one [magic] word and the whole field became filled with qishuin!

After seeing the field get full of qishuin, Rabbi Akiva asked me ‘Rabbi, teach me how to plant them but also can you teach me how to pull the plants out when they’re done?’

At that moment I said another single [magic] word and all of the plants became gathered in one place!”

*Note: In Aramaic, plurals end in “in” instead of “im”

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