ONE MUST NOT TIE CAMELS TOGETHER AND PULL [ONE OF THEM]. BUT HE MAY TAKE THE CORDS IN HIS HAND AND PULL [THEM], PROVIDING HE DOES NOT TWINE THEM TOGETHER.
Now what is the problem with tying camels together? After all, isn’t that the way we always picture them in caravans? R. Ashi says “Because it looks as if he is going to a fair” – not something you would do on Shabbat!
But, he continues, this may have nothing to do with Shabbat at all! “[BUT HE MAY TAKE THE CORDS IN HIS HAND. . .] was taught only in respect to Kil’ayim.”
Kil’ayim? What’s that?
This refers back to the Torah laws forbidding certain mixed things: “You shall not plow with an ox and an ass together. You shall not wear a garment of different sorts, like woollen and linen together.” (Deut. 22:10-11) (The word kil’ayim refers to “mixed seeds” also forbidden in verse 9. But all such mixtures are group under the same term).
But what is the “mix”? We are only talking about camels here! Not camels and some other species (which would be forbidden.) It can’t be the man and the camel – pulling along with an animal is permitted (again, we’re not talking about Shabbat here). So perhaps it is the mixing of different chords? Maybe the rein from one camel is wool and the other flax – if it is “twined” together in his hand, it is as if he is “wearing” them. Again, R. Ashi says a simple holding or twining of chords around the hand is not an illegal mixture – this text teaches that they are kil’ayim only if they are twined and knotted.
Samuel disagrees with the whole premise and argues that it must be about Shabbat and the issue is that the chord can’t be too long between the man and the camel, or have too much length from the hand to the loose end – because then it looks like he is just carrying a chord!
Ah, what a knotted chord this text!