What is Yoshon?
Taste of Talmud and Halacha
What’s new? All grain that was planted after the second day of Pesach is new for this year and may not be eaten until after the second day of Pesach of the following year. This is the Biblical commandment called Chodosh (new). It is derived from a verse in this week’s Parasha (Levit. 23:14). The practical applications of this Mitzva are that one may not derive benefit from any new grain products that will be harvested during the upcoming fall harvest season, until a small amount of grain from the new harvest is brought as a flour offering called the “Omer”. This offering was brought on the second day of Pesach. There is a question in the Talmud in tractate Kiddushin as to what grain this law applies. Does it apply only to grain of the land of Israel or to grain grown in other lands as well? There is a general rule which states that all Mitzvos which are a chovas gavra (obligation on a person) apply to Jews living in all lands and that Mitzvos that are a chovas karka (obligation on the land) only apply to produce of the land of Israel. According to Rabbi Yishmael, Chodosh is a mitzvah dependent on the land and therefore only applies to grain of the land of Israel. Rabbi Eliezer is of the opinion that Chodosh must be observed even with grain of other lands. What is the basis of their disagreement? The Talmud says they disagree on how to understand an enigmatic phrase in the verse in Leviticus chapter 23. It says there, “You must bring the measure of an Omer (approx.1.5 liters) from the first of your harvest… [Until then] do not eat any grain product… this a law for all generations, ‘bchol moshvoseichem’ – in all of your dwelling places”. R’ Yishamel and R’ Akiva disagree as to how to define the term “moshvoseichem” (your dwelling places) in its usage by the laws of wine libations. According to R’ Yishmael, “moshvoseichem” in that reference was to tell us that wine libations were only offered in conjunction with offerings brought in the land of Israel after it was fully conquered and settled. Hence, R’ Yishmael extrapolates from here that in reference to Chodosh as well, the term “moshvoseichem” is to be understood in the same way. According to this opinion the laws of Chodosh also only apply to grain of the land of Israel, after the land of Israel was conquered and settled. However, R’ Akiva defines the term “moshvoseichem” differently. His understanding is that this term teaches us that wine libations are brought in all lands. Rashi explains that R’ Eliezer (in tractate Kiddushin) is following the opinion of R’ Akiva and therefore the word, “moshvoseichem” by the laws of Chodosh also comes to include the grain of all lands, even outside of Israel. According to this, there is a Biblical prohibition not to eat any products made from the new grain of this year, of all lands. Hence the desire of G-d fearing Jews to be vigilant and to only eat products made from “Yoshon” (old) grain; grain that was harvested before the “Omer” offering was brought and not “Chodosh” (new) grain.
Taste of Parasha
“On Pesach the world is judged on grain”. The Talmud says that we bring a grain offering before G-d on Pesach to pray for a year blessed with abundant grain. Many ask, “How could the judgment on grain be on Pesach when we know that all of our sustenance is decided on Rosh Hashana as it says in Tractate Rosh Hashana “Kol M’zonosav shel adam k’tzuvin lo Meirosh Hashana ad Rosh Hashana?” All of a man’s food is allocated from Rosh Hashana until the next Rosh Hashana.” One answer is that even though there is an initial Judgment on Rosh Hashana about all of the details of our life, on Pesach, there is a second judgment on how much grain, we will actually receive. Rabbi Yonason Eyibishitz (1690-1764) offers a novel answer to this question, the judgment on Pesach is only for the grain of the land of Israel. This is why only grain from the land of Israel may be used for the Korban of the Omer and this is why Chodosh only applies in the land of Israel. It is clear that he is only saying this according to the opinion of R’ Yishmael. R’ Eliezer would have to go with the first answer because he is of the opinion that Chodosh applies everywhere!