Five years ago, we discussed some laws related to the prohibition of “Chadash” here at “Halacha Yomit”. Since about a month after the Pesach holiday, we find it prudent to review these very important laws.
The Law of “Chadash”
The Torah (Vayikra 23) states: “When you come to the land which I shall give you and you shall reap its harvest; and you shall bring the first sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the Kohen. And he shall wave the sheaf before Hashem to be accepted for you; on the day following the Shabbat shall the Kohen wave it. And you shall not eat bread, parched corn, or fresh ears until the essence of this day.”
The meaning of this Mitzvah is that Hashem has commanded us that all of the harvest of the five grains (wheat, barley, spelt, oat, and rye) which was produced before the Pesach holiday is forbidden for consumption until the Sixteenth of Nissan which is the day following the first day of Pesach (this is what the verse meant by “the day following the Shabbat” which refers to the day following the first day of Pesach which is a holiday).
When the Bet Hamikdash stood, a special offering called the Omer offering was brought and immediately after this offering was brought, all grains grown and produced before Pesach became permissible for consumption. Nowadays when the Bet Hamikdash no longer stands, “Chadash” grains (i.e. “new” grains referring to grains produced before Pesach) are forbidden for consumption until the night of the Seventeenth of Nissan (outside of Israel until the night of the Eighteenth of Nissan). (Sukkah 41a)
The Laws Regarding “Chadash” Nowadays, Outside of Israel, and a Non-Jew’s Produce
The Gemara (Menachot 68a) states that the Torah prohibition of “Chadash” applies nowadays as well.
The Mishnah (Kiddushin 36a) states that the prohibition of “Chadash” applies both inside and outside of Israel equally. The Rif, Rambam, and Rosh rule accordingly. The Talmud Yerushalmi (quoted by Tosafot’s commentary ibid. 37a) states that the prohibition of “Chadash” applies to produce of both Jews and non-Jews alike.
The Time Which Determines if Grains are “Chadash”
Based on the above, it is forbidden to consume wheat or barley produced before Pesach until the night of the Seventeenth of Nissan (or the Eighteenth of Nissan outside of Israel). The time which determines whether the wheat been “produced” before or after Pesach is the time when the wheat takes root. This means that once the wheat is planted, a certain amount of time passes until it takes root in the ground. (The Poskim disagree how much time passes until the grains take root; the Terumat Ha’Deshen writes that taking root takes place three days after planting while the Dagul Mervava, Gaon of Vilna, and others write that this process takes two weeks from planting.) Once the wheat takes root, it is then considered existent in the world.
Thus, if wheat was planted on Rosh Chodesh Adar and was harvested on Rosh Chodesh Iyar or Sivan, this wheat is permissible for consumption, for its taking root took place before Pesach and has been permitted for consumption from the Seventeenth of Nissan.
However, wheat that has been planted after Pesach, such as from the month of Iyar and on, and has been harvested before the following Pesach is forbidden for consumption until the following Seventeenth of Nissan.
In Israel, in general, wheat is planted before Pesach and harvested after Pesach in a way that by the time it reaches consumers, it will already be permissible since Pesach has already passed. Outside of Israel, however, there are many places where wheat is planted after Pesach and harvested during the month of Cheshvan (in the winter months) and this will be forbidden for consumption until the conclusion of the following Pesach holiday.
During his tenure as Chief Rabbi of Israel, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l discussed this issue with the Minister of Commerce and requested that the State of Israel purchase only wheat that Pesach had already “passed over” from the United States as opposed to produce which Pesach had not yet passed over so as not to cause people to transgress the prohibition of “Chadash”. In general, this was indeed the case and most produce imported into Israel was “Yashan” meaning produce which Pesach had already passed over.
In the following Halacha we shall discuss how this law should be observed, practically speaking.