reposted from http://www.koltorah.org/ravj/chadash.htm
Chadash Observance Today
by Rabbi Howard Jachter
The Torah in Vayikra (23:14) presents the prohibition against eating
Chadash. The Torah forbids eating from grain that has taken root after
the sixteenth of Nissan until the subsequent sixteenth day of Nissan
has passed. For example, we may not eat grain that was planted on the
fourth day of Iyar 5760 until the sixteenth day of Nissan 5761. This
prohibition applies to the Chamisha Minei Dagan (five species of
grain): wheat, barley, rye, oats, and spelt. When the Bait Hamikdash
functions, Chadash is rendered permissible when the Korban Omer is
offered on the sixteenth day of Nissan. In the regrettable absence of
the Bait Hamikdash, we must wait until the end of the sixteenth day of
Nissan to consume Chadash. Outside of Israel, we must wait one more day.
In Israel, observant Jews scrupulously abide by this prohibition.
However, the great majority of observant Jews who reside outside of
Israel have followed a lenient approach towards this issue for many
centuries. In this essay, we will discuss the basis of this lenient
practice. Interestingly, the Orthodox Union has recently taken steps to
facilitate following the stricter approach regarding Chadash.
Does Chadash Apply in Chutz
The Torah (ibid.) mentions that the Chadash prohibition applies "in all
your dwelling places." This seems to imply that the Chadash prohibition
applies throughout the world. Nevertheless, the Tannaim debated whether
the Chadash prohibition applies only in Israel or even in the Diaspora.
Rabbi Elazar's opinion that Chadash applies everywhere is recorded in
the Mishna (Kiddushin 37a). The Tanna Kama of that Mishna argues that
this prohibition applies only in Israel. The latter opinion interprets
the phrase "in all your dwelling places" as teaching that the
prohibition applies to grain that grew in Eretz Yisrael even if the
grain is exported from Eretz Yisrael (see Yerushalmi Kiddushin 1:8).
However, the Tanna Kama believes that the Chadash prohibition does not
apply to grain grown in Chutz La'aretz.
Most Rishonim rule in accordance with Rabbi Elazar in light of the
statement of the Mishna (Orla 3:9) that "Chadash is biblically
prohibited in every place." These Rishonim include the Rambam (Hilchot
Maachalot Assurot 10:2), the Rif (Kiddushin 15a in the pages of the
Rif), the Rosh (Kiddushin 1:62), and the Tur (Orach Chaim 489). The
Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 489:10 and Yoreh Deah 293:2) also rules in
accordance with this opinion.
The Aruch Hashulchan (Yoreh Deah 293:5) notes that a minority of
Rishonim believe that Chadash outside of Israel is only Rabbinically
forbidden. These Rishonim include the Or Zarua (328), Rabbeinu Baruch
(the author of the Sefer Hateruma, cited in Teshuvot Harosh 2:1), the
Raavan (as understood by Teshuvot Mishkenot Yaakov 64), and the Maharil.
The Or Zarua seeks to prove that Chadash is only Rabbinically
prohibited in Chutz La'aretz based on Menachot 83b-84a. The Mishna
(Menachot 83b) states that the barley used for the Korban Omer must
have grown in Eretz Yisrael. The Gemara (Menachot 84a) implies that if
one believes that the barley used for the Korban Omer cannot be from
Chutz La'aretz, then he must believe that the prohibition to eat
Chadash in Chutz La'aretz is only Rabbinical in nature.
The Or Zarua notes how difficult it was to observe Chadash in the area
in which he resided (thirteenth century Germany and France). He
concludes that since it is a situation of great difficulty (Shaat
Hadechak), we may rely on the Mishna in Menachot that seems to imply
that Chadash is forbidden only Rabbinically. Therefore, one may be
lenient in case of doubt. This ruling is based on the celebrated rule
that one may be lenient in case of doubt when dealing with a
rabbinically prohibited matter (Safek Derabanan Lekula). Thus, one may
be lenient regarding Chadash since one does not know whether the grain
took root before the sixteenth of Nissan or after the sixteenth of
Interestingly, Tosafot (Kiddushin 36b s.v. Kol Mitzva) writes that if
one is unsure if barley is Chadash he may eat it. Tosafot explains that
one may assume that the barley has emerged from the majority of barley
that is planted before Pesach. This is an application of the Talmudic
principle of Col Defarish Meruba Farish, "whatever emerges, emerges
from the majority." One should note that Tosafot's lenient approach is
relevant only when most of the grain has taken root before the
sixteenth of Nissan. Moreover, we should note that Tosafot obviously
does not subscribe to the Or Zarua's approach to the Chadash issue.
The Taz also notes the difficulty to observe Chadash in his area
(seventeenth century Poland) and defends the lenient practice of the
Jews of his area. The Taz (Y.D. 293:4) notes that the Gemara does not
definitively conclude that the Halacha follows Rabbi Elazar.
Accordingly, in case of Shaat Hadechak one may rely on the opinion of
the Tanna Kama that Chadash does not apply in Chutz La'aretz. The Shach
(Nekudot Hakesef 293:4) sharply dissents. He argues that the
aforementioned Mishna in Orla unambiguously concludes that the Halacha
follows Rabbi Elazar. The Vilna Gaon (Biur Hagra Y.D. 293:2) concurs
with the Shach.
Chadash Observance in Lands That Are Distant from Israel
Rabbeinu Baruch (a Rishon) argues that Chadash outside of Israel is
forbidden only rabbinically. He further agrees that the rabbinical
decree to observe Chadash outside of Israel applies only in those lands
that are close to Israel, such as Egypt. He notes that when Chazal
instituted that Terumot and Maaserot be separated in Chutz La'aretz,
they imposed this rule only in the lands that are close to Israel (see
Rambam Hilchot Terumot 1:1).
The Magen Avraham (489:17) and the Aruch Hashulchan (Y.D. 293:20-21)
conclude that this is the most convincing defense of the practice to be
lenient regarding Chadash. Nonetheless, the Magen Avraham counsels that
a scrupulous individual should try to avoid relying on this very
lenient approach. Furthermore, the Vilna Gaon (Biur Hagra Y.D. 293:2)
vigorously rejects this leniency.
The Rama's Approach and Rav Akiva Eiger's Critique
The Rama (Y.D. 293:3) presents an interesting, albeit puzzling,
approach to this issue. He writes that one may be lenient regarding
Chadash if the following Sfek Sfeika (double doubt) is applicable. One
doubt is if the grain was planted before the previous sixteenth of
Nissan. The second doubt is that perhaps the grain is from a previous
year. This approach appears difficult, as noted by Rav Akiva Eiger in
his glosses to the Shulchan Aruch (ibid.). It seems that this is not a
legitimate Sfek Sfeika since this is simply one doubt - did the grain
take root before the sixteenth of Nissan or not?
The Lenient Approach of the Bach
The Bach (in his comments to Tur Y.D. 293 s.v. Ketiv Vilechem) notes
that in his area of residence (sixteenth century Poland) almost
everyone (including great Rabbis) was lenient regarding the Chadash
issue. The Bach cites a number of lesser-known Rishonim who assert that
Chadash does not apply if the grain grows in a field owned by a
non-Jew. The Bach writes at length in an attempt to defend this
approach. He cites the Gemara in Rosh Hashana (13a) that states that
one may not offer the Korban Omer from barley that grew in a field
owned by a non-Jew. The Bach then notes that according to the Gemara in
Menachot (84a) Chadash does not apply to grain that is not suitable to
be used for the Korban Omer. Accordingly, the Bach concludes that
Chadash does not apply to grain that grew in a field owned by a non-Jew
because that grain is not suitable for the Korban Omer.
This celebrated approach of the Bach elicited much criticism. The Shach
(Y.D. 293:6), the Taz (293:2), and the Vilna Gaon (Biur Hagra 293:2)
vigorously reject this approach. Indeed, Tosafot (Kiddushin 36b s.v.
Kol) specifically states that the Talmud Yerushalmi indicates that
Chadash applies to grain grown in a field that is owned by non-Jews.
Moreover, the Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 293:2) rules that Chadash applies to
grain grown in a field owned by non-Jews. Nevertheless, Teshuvot
Mishkenot Yaakov (64) writes at length in defense of the Bach from his
many eminent critics.
Many Acharonim (cited by Pitchei Teshuva Y.D. 293:1 and Encyclopedia
Talmudit 12:628 note 84) wrote at great length to defend the lenient
practice of the overwhelming majority of observant Jews. The Aruch
Hashulchan (Y.D. 293:18) describes how it was nearly impossible to
follow the strict approach in his area (nineteenth century Russia). He
notes that very few people follow the strict approach. He strives to
defend the lenient approach and concludes, "All the Jewish people are
free from sin." Interestingly, a number of individuals have informed
this author that Chassidim (including Satmar) abide by the lenient
approach to Chadash. Indeed, there is a legend that the Baal Shem Tov
heard a heavenly voice declaring that the Halacha follows the Bach.
The Mishna Berura (489:45) notes that most observant Jews adopt the
lenient approach to the Chadash issue. He writes that although one
should not criticize one who follows the lenient approach, a
Halachically scrupulous individual should adhere to the Chadash
restrictions as best as he can. In the Biur Halacha (489:10 s.v. Af),
the Chafetz Chaim laments the fact that some people adopt an "all or
nothing" attitude towards Chadash. He writes that just because one
cannot observe the strict approach to Chadash at all times at the
highest level of observance, it does not mean that one should not
observe it at all. He writes that one should do his best to observe the
strict approach to Chadash as often as possible. Accordingly, we should
applaud the Orthodox Union for taking steps to facilitate stricter
observance of Chadash for those who wish to do so.
This author heard Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik (at a Shiur at Yeshiva
University) relate that he follows the lenient approach to Chadash. Rav
Moshe Snow (a student of Rav Moshe Feinstein) told this author that Rav
Moshe Feinstein's Yeshiva in the Lower East Side of Manhattan (Mesivta
Tifereth Jerusalem) followed the lenient approach to Chadash and Rav
Moshe ate the Yeshiva's food. On the other hand, both Rav Aharon
Soloveitchik and Rav Aharon Lichtenstein follow the strict approach to
Chadash. Indeed, some claim that perhaps today we should be stricter in
our observance of this Halacha. They note that it is relatively easier
for us living in North America to follow the stricter approach than it
was for our ancestors.
One should not disparage one who follows the lenient approach to
Chadash, as he has ample Halachic basis for his practice. Similarly,
one should not feel guilty if he adopts the lenient approach to
Chadash, for he is most likely observing Chadash in the same manner as
his ancestors did for the past thousand years. However, those who adopt
the strict approach should be commended for being strict regarding a