Yoshon: To Keep or Not to Keep

Winter 2024

The Gemara seems to conclude that the prohibition on the consumption of chodosh applies worldwide.[1] However, many shomrei mitzvos outside Eretz Yisrael do not restrict themselves to eating only yoshon grain.  Various reasons have been proposed:

► The Rema says that people rely on the fact that for any particular product that are two uncertainties. It is possible that there the food was made from a previous year’s wheat crop and is yoshon. It is also possible that this year’s crop took root before 16 Nissan and is yoshon. As there are two areas of doubt – a sfek sfeika – one can be lenient.[2] Others disagree and maintain that there is only one uncertainty here, whether the grain is chodosh or yoshon, and one should be stringent.[3]

► The Bach says that the prohibition does not apply to grain produced in a field owned by an aino Yehudi. Since most fields outside Eretz Yisroel are owned by aino Yehudim, one can be lenient.[4] Others disagree, as prominent Rishonim clearly state that the prohibition applies equally to grain grown by aino Yehudim.[5]

► The Magen Avrohom suggests that custom is to rely on the opinion of the Rishonim that the prohibition of chodosh is limited to Eretz Yisroel.[6] Others disagree, as the majority of Rishonim pasken that the prohibition applies equally in chutz la’aretz.[7]

The Mishna Berura briefly mentions these three approaches. He then states that although one cannot protest if a person follows these leniencies, a baal nefesh (a pious person) should not rely on them and opt to be stringent.[8]

It should be added that a number of the Acharonim who are lenient explicitly state that this is due to the dire need for food that they experienced in their time.[9] It is quite possible that they would not have taken the same position in the time and countries that we live in now, when food is readily available. This is a further reason for a baal nefesh to be machmir.[10]

[1] קידושין דף לח ע”ב ומנחות דף סח ע”ב

רמ”א יו”ד סי’ רצג סעי’ ג[2]

[3] חי’ רע”א שם, כרתי ופלתי סו”ס קי קונטרס בית הספק ד”ה וגם ספק מחט

[4] ב”ח יו”ד סי’ רצג ס”ק א

[5] ט”ז שם ס”ק ב, ש”ך שם ס”ק ו, ביאור הגר”א שם ס”ק ב

[6] מג”א סי’ תפט ס”ק יז

[7] רי”ף קידושין דף טו ע”א (בדפי הרי”ף), רא”ש שם פ”א סי’ סב, רמב”ם פ”י מהל’ מאכ”א הל’ ב, רמב”ן ויקרא פכ”ג פט”ו

[8] מ”ב סי’ תפט ס”ק מה

[9] ט”ז יו”ד סי’ רצג ס”ק ד, חק יעקב סי’ תפט ס”ק כ

[10] פרק כה Food A Halachic Analysis סוגיא זו נתבאר היטב ע”י ידידי ר’ יהודה שפיץ שליט”א בספרו