17 Issue #25

Parshas Emor ‫פרשת אמור‬

17 Iyar 5773

The Mitzvah of Chadash

Rabbi Michael Taubes
The Torah tells us that on the second day of Pesach (the 16th of Nissan), a special offering had to be brought to Hashem consisting of the grain from the first harvest of that season (Vayikra – 23: 10-11). Since the Torah specifies (ibid. Posuk 10) that the amount of grain brought was to be an Omer’s worth, meaning, as the Torah indicates earlier (Shemos – 16: 36), one tenth of an Eiphah, the equivalent of about two quarts, this offering was known simply as Korban Omer. The Torah elsewhere (Vaykira – 2: 14) indicates, as interpreted by the Gemara in Menachos (68b) based on another Posuk (Shemos – 9: 31), that this first grain offering consisted specifically of barley; the barley was roasted and then ground into a kind of meal, as the Gemara earlier (ibid. 66b) states. The Rambam (Hilchos T’midin U’Musafin – Perek 7, Hilchos 11-12) clearly details each step of this Korban from the preparations for the harvesting of the barley through the actual offering. The Torah then states (Vayikra – 23: 14) that until this Korban Omer is brought, it is forbidden for one to eat bread or grain products. The Mishnah in Menachos (70a), after specifying that this injunction applies to the Chameshet Minei Dagan, - the five species of grain, namely wheat, barley, spelt, oats, and rye, explains that the prohibition is to eat any of these grains (or their derivatives) which had grown, or, more literally, took root, during the past year, since the Korban Omer was brought on the previous Pesach, until the current Korban Omer is brought. Any such grain which begins to take root after Pesach is called “Chadash,” meaning “new” by this Mishnah, and it is forbidden to eat Chadash or products made from Chadash until the Korban Omer is brought on the next Pesach. The Rambam (Hilchos Ma’achalos Asuros – Perek 10, Halacha 4) and the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah – Siman 293, Se’if 3) rule accordingly. An earlier Mishna in Menachos (68a) states that in the absence of the Beis HaMikdash, when no Korban Omer is brought at all, Chadash becomes permissible to eat only following the day on which it would have been brought, that is, the 16th of Nissan. One may eat Chadash, then, starting on the evening of the 17th of Nissan, and, based on the Gemara’s conclusion (ibid. 68b), on the evening of the

18th of Nissan if one lives outside of Eretz Yisrael, where an extra day of Yom Tov is observed because of a doubt (at one time) as to the true calendar date. The Rambam (ibid. Halacha 2) and the Shulchan Aruch (ibid. - Se’if 1) again rule accordingly. It should be noted that there is a dispute as to how long it takes for these grains to take root after they are planted. The Shach (ibid. Se’if Katan 2) quotes from the Terumas HaDeshen (Sha’ailos U’Teshuvos Terumas HaDeshen – Siman 191) that it takes three days, based on an opinion quoted in the Gemara in Pesachim (55a), but Rabbi Akiva Eiger (Chiddushei Rebbe Akiva Eiger - ibid. “Hai’nu”), among others, questions this, saying that opinion is not the accepted one, and that it rather takes two weeks. The Shach himself, in his Nekudos HaKessef (ibid. – “Kedemuchach”), raises this question, noting that the Gemara in Yevamos (83a) seems to rule clearly that it takes two weeks. The Vilna Gaon (Bei’ur Ha’GR”A – ibid. end of Se’if Katan 2) brings this up as well and tries to reconcile the problem, but leaves the matter in doubt. The Aruch HaShulchan (ibid. Se’ifim 7-9) summarizes the different positions, but concludes that the view of the Terumas HaDeshen (ibid.) that it takes three days is correct when discussing, as we are, plants, as opposed to trees. This dispute would obviously have great bearing on any grains planted in the springtime just before Pesach in determining whether or not they would be labeled as Chadash. In formulating this Mitzvah not to eat Chadash, the Torah (ibid.) specifies that it is to be observed “Be’Chol Moshvotechem”, - “wherever you dwell.” This would imply that this Mitzvah is not restricted to Eretz Yisrael or to its produce. Indeed, the Mishnah in Orlah (Perek 3: Mishnah 9) states plainly that the prohibition to eat Chadash applies everywhere according to the Torah. The Mishnah in Kiddushin (36b-37a), however, presents a dispute about this, implying that the majority of authorities hold that Chadash in fact applies only in Eretz Yisrael. In the ensuing discussion, the Gemara (ibid.) suggests that the Mitzvah applies outside of Eretz Yisrael, but that even in Eretz Yisrael it was not to be operative until the land had indeed become a dwelling place, that is, after the entire conquest and division of the land. The Yerushalmi in Kiddushin (Perek 1, Halacha 8: Daf 22a) suggests that although produce grown outside of Eretz Yisrael is not subject to the laws of

Chadash, the phrase: “Be’Chol Moshvotechem” teaches that Chadash produce from Eretz Yisrael which is brought outside the land may still not be eaten. The aforementioned Gemara in Menachos (68b) presents this dispute somewhat differently; some Amoraim learn that the Mitzvah of Chadash applies outside of Eretz Yisrael on a Torah level, while others hold that the Mitzvah is MideRabbanan anywhere outside the land; either way, though, the Mitzvah applies everywhere. The Rambam cited above (ibid. Halacha 2) rules clearly that the Mitzvah of Chadash applies on a Torah level everywhere, as do the Rif in Kiddushin (15b Bidapei HaRi”F), the Rosh there (Perek 1, Siman 62), and others. Elsewhere, however, the Rosh (Sha’ailos U’Tesshuvos HaRosh – K’lal 2: Siman 1) quotes some Rishonim who hold that there is a doubt as to whether this Mitzvah applies outside of Eretz Yisrael, and others who hold that it applies only MideRabbanan outside the land, and still others who hold that even MideRabbanan it applies only to the lands immediately neighboring Eretz Yisrael. The Aruch HaShulchan (Yoreh Deah – ibid. Se’ifim 2-6) presents a synopsis and a discussion of all of these views, and the basis for their positions. The Shulchan Aruch quoted above (Yoreh Deah – ibid. Se’if 2) rules that the Mitzvah of Chadash applies both to Eretz Yisrael and outside the land, adding that it doesn’t matter whether the particular field is owned by a Jew or by a non-jew, the subject of a different dispute. The Ramo, however, (ibid. Se’if 3), writes that because of certain doubts which generally prevail as to when most available grains actually grew, one may be lenient and disregard the problem of Chadash outside of Eretz Yisrael, unless one is indeed sure when the grain grew. He then adds that even when it is proper to be stringent with this Mitzvah, one should not publicize this Halacha if people generally use Chadash products, because it is better for people to err unintentionally than to err intentionally. The long-standing practice in most communities, as already noted by the aforementioned Terumas HaDeshen (ibid.), has been to be lenient, permitting eating Chadash products grown outside of Eretz Yisrael; many Poskim have attempted to defend this leniency. The Taz (ibid. Se’if Katan 4), for example, tries to explain why we may be lenient even if it means following the minority view. The Bach, in his commentary to the Tur (Yoreh Deah – ibid. “Kesiv”), writes that in his country, the practice even among the Gedolei Torah and their students was to be lenient about this, and that it is not clear from the Gemara that Chadash applies anywhere but in Eretz yisrael. He thus concludes that no Torah authority should prohibit eating Chadash, ruling against the accepted leniency, and only one who is known as an exceptionally pious person who is strict about other things should accept this stringency upon himself as a Middas Chassidut, an act of extra piety.

It must be stressed, however, that the Vilna Gaon (Bei’ur Ha’GR”A - ibid. Se’if Katan 2) disagrees strongly, and uncharacteristically attacks the lenient opinions sharply, writing forcefully that the sources indicate that Chadash applies even outside of Eretz Yisrael. The Magen Avraham (Orech Chaim – Siman 489, Se’if 17), while defending the lenient position from a number of points of view, concludes that it is proper for one who wishes to be stricter to do so. The Mishnah Berurah (ibid. Se’if Katan 45), after summarizing the different positions, likewise writes that while one shouldn’t object to those who are lenient, one should personally try to take the stricter view and avoid eating Chadash products even outside of Eretz Yisrael. The Proper Perspective

Yisrael Snow
Recently the Senate of the United States held a vote regarding increased gun control. The proposal suggested that there should be an increased number of background checks of gun buyers to ensure that guns should not fall into the wrong hands. The vote was tight and but in the end the bill failed to attain the number of votes required to move it forward. The obvious question is: Why did it fail? Virtually all Americans agree that there should be stricter background checks before someone can purchase a gun. The Republicans, who are generally very supportive of gun rights, all agree that guns are dangerous when placed in the wrong hands. The Democrats, who are very supportive of gun control, recognize that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution codifies that Americans have a fundamental right to own guns. However, everyone agrees that something needs to be done to keep guns out of the wrong hands. So why did this bill fail? In Parashas Emor the Yom Tov of Sukkos is mentioned. The Torah writes with regard to this holiday (Emor, 23:40): “ulikachtem lachem bayom harishon pri eitz hadar kapos temarim vaanaf eitz avos viarvei nachal.” The Yalkut Shemoni (651) offers various explanations for the reasoning behind this mitzvah. One of them is that each one of the four species represents a different type of Jew. There are Jews who both do good deeds and learn Torah, then there are Jews who only do one of the above, and finally there are Jews who do not do either of the two. When all of the different varieties are brought together, each of the different types of Jews is able to provide atonement for the sins of the others. A bit later on, the Yalkut Shemoni adds that just like one cannot fulfill the obligation of the four species until they are all together, so too, the Jewish people will not be redeemed until they are all together in one group. The Yalkut Shemoni is clearly illustrating the point that Jewish people need to have a certain fundamental level of respect for other Jews, regardless of whether or not they are in agreement with one another. This fundamental level of respect will bring the Jewish people together. However, respecting other people does not mean one is

not allowed to disagree with others. In Pirkei Avos (5:17) the Mishnah says: “kol machlokes shehi lesheim shamayim sofah lehiskayem.” The Mishnah then proceeds to use the disagreements between Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel to illustrate this point. The Mishnah in Yevamos (13b) elucidates this point. There was a certain disagreement regarding the status of a certain type of women is regards to marriage. Beis Shammai thought that these women had no issues with marriage while Beis Hillel said they were not allowed to marry certain men. However, this disagreement did not prevent the people from Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel from marrying one another. In order to make sure that neither one of them violated any rules they always verified that everything was fine. Provided that this was so, they then proceeded to get married. This story demonstrates how Beis Hillel and Beis Shammai had a fundamental level of respect for each other. They had no problem marrying each other. In order to avoid any Torah violations they each helped each other maintain a total fealty towards Halacha. One can see from all this that disagreement is not something that people should be scared of. However, beneath any disagreement, there needs to be an underlying level of respect between the two parties involved in the disagreement. Now it is understandable why the compromise gun bill failed to pass the Senate. The Republicans and Democrats do not respect each other at all. The Republicans think that the Democrats want to totally eliminate guns while the Democrats think that the Republicans do not care if more people are shot as long as they are allowed to keep their guns. Both parties have demonstrated a fundamental lack of respect for each other’s position. As long as this is the case, compromise will be impossible. However, once both parties can recognize that they are all human and therefore all deserving of respect then compromise will be right around the corner.

possess. This issue is brought up in Maseches Nazir. After discussing how many lavs a Nazir violates for holding a dead body, the Gemara begins discussing the Kohein. According to Rav Huna, if a Nazir, who has the same issur as the Kohein, touches a corpse while holding one he is over two lavim. This means that Rav Huna holds that the act of coming in contact with the dead is the issur, so a Kohein who is already tamei would still be forbidden to metamei himself, thus Kohanim can’t become tamei today. Rava holds that the Nazir would only be over one lav, meaning that the issur is really the reaching of a status of being tamei. If that is the case then Kohanim would be allowed to go to cemeteries today since the Kohein is perpetually violating the lav anyways since he is tamei. Abaye holds that for there to be a second lav, the Nazir must be tamei then touch the corpse, but if one held one corpse and then touched another you wouldn’t be over a second lav. Thus, Abaye holds that a Kohein can touch a second corpse if already is holding one, but may not touch another corpse after letting go of it since you would then gain a new level of tumah. These opinions are subject to a three-way machlokes Rishonim. The Rambam in Hilchot Nezirut states that a Nazir who becomes tamei receives malkus for violating a lav de’oraysa, (just like a Kohein would). But, if the Nazir became tamei numerous times he would only get one set of lashes though he deserves a set of lashes for each occurrence of tumah. The Rambam then states that this is only true if the Nazir let go of the corpse and then went back and became tamei. However, if the Nazir held one corpse and then touched another while retaining his grip on the original, he is only liable for the first corpse. In the parallel case of the Kohein, the Rambam would hold like shitat Abaye. The Rosh holds that it is forbidden to become tamei from another dead body, even while becoming tamei from one’s relative’s dead body. Therefore, a Kohein who is burying a relative has to be careful to bury him at the edge of the cemetery, so he does not enter into the cemetery and become tamei through the other dead bodies when he is burying his relative’s body. This proves that the Rosh holds like shitat Rava. The Rema explains the Rosh to mean that this is a problem only after he detached himself from his relative’s corpse but while he is still busy with his relative’s body, it is permissible for him to become tamei even to other dead bodies. The Raavad holds that according to the Gemara in Nazir, Kohanim are allowed to become tamei these days. Thus the Raavad follows the opinion of Rava. In conclusion, the Dagul Merivava writes that the Raavad holds that a Kohein may make himself tamei nowadays, but only in respect to malkus, meaning that the Kohein is still over the lav but doesn’t receive malkus. May we all be zoche that we will be able to practice the laws of tumah and tahara when Mashiach comes bimhera byameinu.

Tumah and Tahara

Tsahi Halyo
When I was in Israel I saw signs in various locations warning Kohanim not to enter because there were dead people there. There is an aggadeta which records that in the times of the Tannaim so many people were buried in the avenues of Tverya that Kohanim could not enter. In this week’s parsha the Torah commands all Kohanim not to get tamei unless it is for a close relative. But nowadays why should we worry about tumaas meis if everyone is already tamei meis and a person can’t become more tamei? The question boils down to whether the act or the result of coming in contact with the dead is the issur. If the act of touching a corpse makes one in violation of the lav then nowadays a Kohein shouldn’t be allowed to metamei himself. But, if the issur is becoming tamei, Kohanim should be allowed to become tamei today since you can’t gain any significant new tumah beyond the tumaas meis we already

Priestly Discrimination

Asher Finkelstein
A Kohein who has certain physical defects cannot serve in the Beis Hamikdash, or so we are told in this week’s parasha. This fact seems to contradict everything we know about Hashem and Judaism. Is Hashem more concerned with outer appearances than inner devotion? Does Hashem favor the successful and powerful over the down-trodden? Is it conceivable that a righteous but physically deformed Kohein cannot serve in the Temple but a handsome yet not so scrupulous Kohein can? The Meshech Chachma offers an interesting approach to this issue. The laws concerning korbanos are chukim, laws whose reasons we cannot fathom. What is accomplished by squirting blood from a bird’s neck on a wall or pouring wine on an altar? These are questions we cannot answer. Therefore, says the Meshech Chochma, the Torah was concerned that there may be Kohanim who won’t believe in or will doubt the efficacy and value of the sacrifices they bring. Such a sacrifice would be invalid (Rashi, Pesachim 3b). To guard against this occurring, Hashem decreed that no priest with a physical defect could serve in the Beis Hamikdash. If there will be a priest who won’t believe in the sacrifices, Hashem will simply afflict him with a disqualifying defect to ensure that he will not serve in the Temple and invalidate people’s sacrifices by not having the proper intentions. Since this is a matter between man and Hashem, this doubting Kohein need not be publicly humiliated for the rest of his life. Therefore, Hashem decreed that anyone could end up with a defect and that if one has such a defect he cannot serve even if he is a tremendously righteous person. This way, we don’t know the difference between Kohanim have physical defects because they sinfully doubt the value of sacrifices and those who are unfortunate enough to have a defect for some other reason. A more commonly offered approach is the idea that, in the words of the Chizkuni, “it doesn’t look nice” if a person with a physical defect is serving in the Temple. The Abarbanel elaborates and explains that if people enter the Beis Hamikdash and see deformed priests serving there, it will make them disgusted and will leave them with a negative view of the service of Hashem. Furthermore, says the Abarbanel, Hashem Himself despises it. This approach, though, seems to only exacerbate our original problem. Of course people can be very much affected by physical appearances, but can’t Hashem see beyond that outer layer of a person, and doesn’t He want us to do the same? The first step to answering this question is recognizing that the Kohanim, when looking only at their roles as priests, are to be viewed more as objects than subjects. Rav Hirsch, among others, points out the intimate connection between the Kohein and the Korban. In fact, one could suggest that the Kohanim are a national Korban. A large segment of the population is removed from the sphere of agricultural activity and is set aside to serve in the Temple. The

question becomes, which segment of society will that be? Do we wish to give Hashem what we view as the finest we have, or do we send Him the deformed that are useless for other tasks? The answer to that question says a lot about our priorities and values. Therefore, Hashem commands us to ensure that it is the finest that have to offer that are given to Him. So the fact that a Kohein who has a physical defect cannot serve is not a devaluation of him as person. It’s a devaluation of him as a commodity in the sphere of allocating communal resources. One cannot deny that offering a deformed Korban or Kohein shows a lack of appreciation for the supreme importance of Hashem in our lives. Rav Hirsch takes this idea a step further. He points out that religion can often become nothing but a crutch for the down-trodden who simply have no other hope in life. Those who are successful, on the other hand, feel they have no need for this “silly superstition.” Karl Marx expressed this view of religion with his famous declaration that it is merely, “the opiate of the masses.” While it is often said that there are no atheists in a foxhole, it may be equally true to say that there are few billionaires in the Beis Midrash. Of course Hashem provides remedies for the maladies and problems faced by the poor and unsuccessful in life. However, there is so much more that Hashem has to offer. He offers us the opportunity to connect with absolute perfection and to consecrate and elevate the freshness and vigor of life. The fact that a Kohein with a physical deformity cannot serve sends us this very message. While the weak and crippled are welcomed with open arms into Hashem’s Temple, they cannot serve as the symbols of what the Beis Hamikdash is all about. Its primary goal is not to lift us out of sorrow but to help us attain and sanctify the pinnacle of human potential. This is a goal shared by all; rich and poor, powerful and powerless. The physical wholeness of the serving Kohein is emblematic of this goal. This notion of wholeness and lack of physical defects is an important feature of the period we are in now, the Omer. The Torah commands us to count seven “complete” weeks during this time. It is during this period that we reenact each year the Jewish people’s quest for spiritual growth in preparation for the receiving of the Torah. We try to make ourselves “complete” in anticipation of the great day of Shavuos. However, it is important that we remember that this period between Pesach and Shavuos was not originally meant for spiritual growth alone. When the Jews left Egypt, they were technically free but they still thought and acted like slaves. Changing one’s entire mode of existence is not something that can happen overnight. This Jewish people, who were still ensconced in the slave mentality, were not yet able to receive the Torah. The Torah is not meant only for the down-trodden. The Jewish people wait to receive the Torah until they have shed their enslaved identities and take on a regal mentality. At the height of their national success, the Jewish people accept Hashem’s commands with joy. They have already been extricated from sorrow and misery, yet the Torah still has so much to offer them, and still has so much to offer us today.

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