Mourning the Loss of the Bet Hamikdash

Sefardi Beit Sefer

We now find ourselves during the three weeks between the Seventeenth of Tammuz and the Ninth of Av, the period of time during which the holy city of Jerusalem was besieged by our enemies. During this time, we cry for the loss of our Holy Temple and our exile from the holy land. We must therefore ask: What is this sorrow all about? Why must we cry and grieve for the loss of the Bet Hamikdash?

There are indeed several reasons for this. Every Jewish person is obligated to mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple and the exile of the Jewish nation, for any generation during which the Bet Hamikdash has not been rebuilt, it is considered as though it has been destroyed during that generation. Were the same reasons that caused the Bet Hamikdash to be destroyed so many years ago not present in our days, the Bet…

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“Chadash” As It Applies Nowadays

“Chadash” As It Applies Nowadays-The Opinion of the Sha’agat Aryeh

In the previous Halacha we have explained that any byproduct of the five grains produced before the Pesach holiday are forbidden for consumption until the Seventeenth of Nissan (the Eighteenth of Nissan outside of Israel). This grain is referred to as “Chadash”. Grain which the Pesach holiday has “passed over” is called “Yashan”. Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim, Chapter 489, Section 10 and Yoreh De’ah, Chapter 293) rules as follows: “One may not consume ‘Chadash’ even nowadays until the beginning of the night of the Seventeenth of Nissan.” (Add one extra day outside of Israel.)

We have explained that in Israel, most wheat and barley products pose no “Chadash” concern. Nevertheless, the situation outside of Israel is totally different because it is common in such places to harvest wheat in the month of Cheshvan which is then immediately marketed to consumers and these grains are prohibited for consumption until Pesach arrives.

The Sephardic vs. Ashkenazi Customs
In all Middle Eastern countries, Jews were always careful regarding the prohibition of “Chadash”. In any case, in these countries, wheat was generally planted in the beginning of the winter and harvested in the beginning of the summer such that grain sold in these places had no concern of “Chadash” since Pesach had already passed over them. Nevertheless, in Ashkenazi countries, especially Poland, most people were not meticulous regarding this prohibition since it was very difficult to do so in these places where wheat was planted in the summer and harvested in the beginning of the winter, usually during Cheshvan. The wheat would then have to be stored in silos until after Pesach so that it could then be consumed and this was very difficult to do.

For this reason, the Poskim discuss whether or not Ashkenazim have on whom to rely in not being careful regarding “Chadash”. Indeed, the Poskim, including the great Rama, discuss several leniencies regarding this matter. Many Acharonim relied upon the opinion of the Bayit Chadash who rules that the prohibition of “Chadash” only applies to grain owned by a Jew and not that of non-Jews. Since all grain outside of Israel is grown and produced by non-Jews, the prohibition of “Chadash” does not apply.

Hagaon Harav Yechezkel Katzenelenbogen (the uncle of the Sha’agat Aryeh) rules leniently on this matter based on the aforementioned reason. On the other hand, his nephew, the great Sha’agat Aryeh writes very harshly against those who rule leniently on this matter, so much so that he writes that the Torah dresses itself in sackcloth about this opinion which is contrary to Torah law and which causes people to transgress a Torah prohibition based on weak arguments. The Sha’agat Aryeh relies heavily upon the Talmud Yerushalmi (quoted in the previous Halacha) which clearly implies that the prohibition of “Chadash” applies to non-Jewish produce as well. The Sha’agat Aryeh was so stringent about this matter that he ruled that one may not use the vessels of those who acted leniently on the prohibition of “Chadash” similar to one who cooked non-kosher meat in one’s vessels; he ruled that the vessels must be koshered before using them again. Indeed, the great Gaon, Rabbeinu Eliyahu of Vilna, also ruled stringently on the issue of “Chadash” nowadays.

Nevertheless, most of Ashkenazi Jewry did not heed the ruling of the Sha’agat Aryeh because of the great difficulty it involved. Because he was so stringent about this issue, no community in Europe wished to hire the great Sha’agat Aryeh as their rabbi and he lived in poverty for most of his life, wandering from place to place disseminating Torah in dire straits (until he was hired to serve as the rabbi of the French city of Metz in his old age).

Halachically Speaking
Many Poskim, among them Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l, rule that one must avoid the prohibition of “Chadash” even nowadays, even with regards to non-Jewish produce and this is indeed a Torah prohibition. This is especially true regarding Sephardic and Middle Eastern Jews who are bound by the rulings of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch. Thus, in the United States and Europe where “Chadash” crops are common, one must make certain to only purchase products free of “Chadash” concerns. Regarding prepared products containing these crops that are produced in these countries and then imported into Israel, one must be sure not to purchase products after Pesach that were produced using “Chadash” produce. (We must point out that the “Orthodox Union” or “OU” Kashrut agency based in the United States is not careful regarding the “Chadash” status of the grain products they certify since they rely on the more lenient opinions we have discussed above. Thus, as opposed to several other Kashrut agencies in Israel and abroad, just because a product bears an “OU” symbol does not automatically render it “Yashan”. Many of their products may very well be “Yashan” and one should consult local “Chadash” guides to determine the given products status using codes, best-by dates, and the like.)

Maran zt”l would speak about this issue constantly and proclaimed that if people would know the severity of the matter and how easy it is to act stringently today, people would certainly do so; in our day and age it is much easier to take the necessary steps to avoid “Chadash” as opposed to previous generation when this was a great obstacle and which caused the Poskim to search for reasons for leniency as a result of the pressing circumstances. Indeed, many bakeries and other establishments in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere have begun to include the words “Without Concern for Chadash” or “Kemach Yashan” in their Kashrut certificates and advertising venues in order to show that they have begun taking care of this issue. This is indeed the proper custom and behavior that everyone should undertake.

We should also point out that grain products manufactured in the United States being sold on the market now do not pose “Chadash” concerns since we have recently just concluded the Pesach holiday. Only towards the beginning of the fall/winter will “Chadash” products return to the market.

Through the Righteous

Hashem Does Not Bring About Failure Through the Righteous

The Gemara (Chullin 7a) recounts an incident where Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair travelled to a certain hotel and the innkeeper brought some barley for the rabbi’s donkey. The donkey, however, did not want to eat. They proceeded to sift and clean the barley by removing all of its waste but the donkey would still not eat. Rabbi Pinchas asked them, “Did you possibly not tithe the barley?” They immediately tithed the barley and the donkey finally ate. Rabbi Pinchas told them, “This poor animal (the donkey) is on its way to perform the will of its Creator and you wish to feed it untithed produce?”

Our Sages derived from here that if one is truly righteous and is always careful not to consume any food that is even doubtfully forbidden, Hashem will aid this individual so that he not fail in these areas at all. Hashem will even prevent failure through the animal of such an individual (for it was forbidden to feed one’s animal such untithed produced).

The Gemara (Gittin 7a) quotes the Mishnah (Shabbat 34a) which states, “One must inquire about three things in one’s home on Erev Shabbat shortly before sunset: ‘Have you tithed? Have you established the Eruv? Light the candles!’” Rabba bar Bar Chana explains that one must inquire about these issues in a calm manner just as one must be calm regarding all other things that he brings to the attention of one’s household in order for one’s words to have the desired effect and cause the members of the household to want to do them. Rabbi Avhu adds that “one should never instill excessive fear in one’s household for Rabbi Chanina ben Gamliel instilled excessive fear in his household and as a result, he almost transgressed the prohibition of consuming meat torn off of a live animal.”

Rashi explains that once, Rabbi Chanina ben Gamliel’s servants slaughtered an animal and one of its body parts were lost; because they were so frightened that their master would be angry that they lost a piece of meat, they took a piece of non-kosher meat and put it in the pace of the missing piece. Rabbi Chanina ben Gamliel was spared this transgression from Heaven as he was notified that the meat was non-kosher, for Hashem does not bring about failure even through the animals of the righteous and certainly not through the righteous themselves.

The Tosafot quote Rabbeinu Tam’s explanation of this matter that this does not mean to say that the righteous will never sin, for we find several places throughout the Talmud that great luminaries transgressed all kinds of sins. Rather, this means that if one is righteous, Hashem shall protect him from transgressing prohibitions related to forbidden foods, for consuming forbidden foods is a truly shameful sin, for this will cause the flesh of the righteous individual to become one entity with the forbidden foods he has eaten. Thus, this promise that Hashem does not bring about failure through the righteous only applies to eating related prohibitions.

We have heard Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l quote the words of the saintly Ari z”l that one who is careful regarding Chametz on Pesach is guaranteed not to sin the entire year. Maran zt”l recounted that once, the mother of Hagaon Rabbeinu Akiva Eiger questioned this, for we find many great Torah scholars who are meticulous regarding the prohibitions of Chametz and they nevertheless transgress various sins. Hagaon Rabbi Akiva Eiger answered that the words of the Ari z”l are similar to the words of our Sages in that one who is careful regarding Chametz is guaranteed not to transgress any eating related prohibitions throughout the year but this does not mean one will not sin throughout the year at all.

Maran zt”l adds based on the words of Rabbeinu Nissim that when our Sages promise that one will not sin, this only applies when the sinner is not at fault, i.e. Hashem only protects the righteous, those who are careful regarding Chametz, etc. only from incidents that are not in the individual’s control. However, if the person is slightly at fault, such as if one enters a restaurant that is not under the best Kashrut supervision, one will not merit divine protection and it is possible that one will transgress even sins of forbidden food consumption.

Based on this, Rabbeinu Nissim explains that the reason why King Solomon failed at the end of his life and his wives were able to lead his heart astray was because he tried to outsmart the Torah’s commandment of a king not marrying too many wives, for he claimed, “I will marry many wives and my heart shall not stray from Hashem!” At the end, his wives did indeed lead his heart astray. However, regarding matters about which one is not at fault at all and when one is careful with all his actions, such as the incident with Rabbi Chanina ben Gamliel, Hashem shall protect the individual from all failure.

Sending Mishloach Manot to a Diabetic

Question: If one sends sweets to one’s friend as Mishloach Manot and the recipient does not partake of these sweets since he is a diabetic and abstains from eating foods containing sugar, has the sender fulfilled his obligation of Mishloach Manot?

Answer: Let us introduce this topic by saying that there is a disagreement among the Poskim regarding whether or not one can send uncooked foods, such as raw meat or chicken, as Mishloach Manot. Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l rules that one does indeed fulfill his obligation in this way since the recipient can cook the meat and it will then be edible. Thus, there is no obligation to send specifically foods that are immediately ready for consumption as Mishloach Manot.

Regarding our question, Hagaon Harav Yosef Cohen zt”l (who was a member of the rabbinical court alongside Maran zt”l) writes that he is unsure regarding this matter, for although we rule that one does indeed fulfill his obligation of Mishloach Manot by sending raw meat, nevertheless, the meat is still worthy for use by the recipient who can cook it and prepare delicacies for the Purim feast with it. However, regarding foods containing sugar which were sent to someone who we know cannot eat them, although the foods are intrinsically worthy to be used as Mishloach Manot, there is nevertheless room to claim that one does not fulfill his obligation of Mishloach Manot by sending them.

Similarly, Hagaon Harav Yehoshua Newirth zt”l (author of the Sefer Shemirat Shabbat Ke’Hilchata) rules that one does not fulfill his obligation with such Mishloach Manot that the recipient cannot partake of, for the entire basis for the Mitzvah of Mishloach Manot is for friends to gladden one another by joyously partaking of the food gifts during the Purim feast; in our scenario, on the other hand, the recipient cannot eat them at all.

Nevertheless, Hagaon Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l is quoted as saying that one does indeed fulfill his obligation with such Mishloach Manot. His proof to this is that if one sends dairy food items to one’s friend as Mishloach Manot, he clearly fulfills his obligation even when he knows that the recipient has eaten meat during his Purim feast which will prevent him from partaking of the foods until past nightfall; even so, there is no doubt that he has fulfilled his obligation. We can deduce from here that anytime one sends food items that are edible, regardless of whether or not that specific recipient can partake of them, one does indeed fulfill his obligation, as long as they are considered food items edible by most people.

Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l points out that there is an apparent distinction between these two cases, for whereas regarding dairy food items, the recipient will eventually be able to partake of them (it is just a matter of time) and he thus feels joy upon receiving such food gifts and camaraderie is indeed increased, regarding Mishloach Manot containing foods that the recipient will never be able to eat, this is not the case and there is no great joy felt by the recipient.

Nevertheless, Maran zt”l concludes that since this Mishloach Manot serves as a tribute and symbol of love and friendship in addition to the fact that the recipient’s family members will indeed be able to partake of the sweets and that the prevalent custom is to send different kinds of sweets and goodies as a show of fondness, in our situation, one does indeed fulfill his obligation even if the recipient cannot partake of the foods himself.

However, if there is concern that the recipient may be unhappy to receive such gifts, for instance, sending this type of Mishloach Manot to a youngster who cannot have sweets and by sending this to him, this reminds him of his situation, one should indeed refrain from sending such items to such an individual. One should make an effort to send a Mishloach Manot package befitting the recipient so that he may enjoy it during his Purim feast.

Parsah TETZAVEH

UNIVERSAL TORAH: TETZAVEH

By Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum

Torah Reading: TETZAVEH Exodus 27:20-30:10

LIFE IN THE HOUSE

In last week’s parshah of TERUMAH, the Torah taught us the form and shape of the House of G-d with all its vessels. In this week’s parshah of TETZAVEH, we receive instructions about the daily activities that are to take place in that House. The central core of the parshah is taken up with detailed instructions about the making of the garments of those who are to be the ministering attendants in the House — Aaron and his sons, the priests — and about the sacrifices that were to be offered during their seven-day initiation.

It may help us to grasp the overall structure of TETZAVEH by again using the “sandwich” idea. In this case, the top and bottom of the “sandwich” would be the opening and closing sections of the parshah, which give instructions about the “daily life” in the House. TETZAVEH starts by introducing in its two opening verses (Ex. 27;20-21) the daily lighting of the Menorah candelabrum in the House using the choicest oil — this opening section would be one side of the “sandwich”. Then at the end of TETZAVEH (Ex. 29:38-45; 30:1-10) we come to the other side of the “sandwich”. This consists of the sections dealing with the daily animal sacrifices, meal, oil and wine offerings on the outside Altar, the pleasing fragrance (the incense burned in the House on the golden Incense Altar) and finally (returning to the parshah’s opening theme), the daily lighting of the Menorah.

In the middle of this “sandwich” are two considerably lengthier sections. The first gives instructions in fine detail for the making of the garments of those who are to minister in the House — Aaron and his sons, the priests. The second gives the detailed instructions for what was to be a one-time event in the Wilderness: the 7-day initiation of Aaron and his sons into the priesthood that was to lead up to the permanent induction of the Sanctuary on 1st Nissan. (Because of the central importance of this day in the Torah, we will be returning several times in later parshahs to the description of its events – in PEKUDEY at the end of Exodus as well as in several parshahs in Leviticus and Numbers.)

* * *

THE ATTENDANTS — AARON AND HIS SONS

A basic assumption underlies all sections of our present parshah of TETZAVEH, from beginning to end. The assumption is that the attendants conducting the daily life of the House, about whose daily activities, garments and induction-day we read in such detail, are to be none other than Aaron and his sons.

Throughout our parshah, the entire focus is upon Aaron and his sons, their activities, garments and induction. Indeed it is a fact that the actual name of Moses does not appear anywhere in our parshah from beginning to end, though he is addressed directly in its opening words, VE-ATAH TETZAVEH, “And YOU shall command…” and moreover, he was to be the central actor in the priests’ induction. [It is said that one reason why Moses’ actual name was left out of this week’s parshah is because Moses was later to pray — in next week’s parshah Ex. 32:33 — “blot me out from Your book.”. However, that prayer had already been answered before it was said, since G-d “blotted out” Moses name by not writing it anywhere in this week’s parshah!]

Addressing now the central assumption — that it is to be Aaron and his sons who will play the role of ministers in the House of the dwelling of the Holy Presence:

It must be understood that EIN MUKDAM O ME-UCHAR BATORAH: “There is no ‘before’ and ‘after’ in the Torah”. The reason for the appointment of Aaron and his sons and none other to be the priests ministering in the House does not become apparent in the Torah narrative until next week’s parshah of KI TISA, with the account of the sin of the Golden Calf. Yet even before the reason became manifest, their appointment was already conceived in the mind and will of G-d prior to that event, as we see from this week’s parshah of TETZAVEH.

The first-born of the Children of Israel were originally offered an opportunity to become the ones who would serve as the priests. Indeed at the Giving of the Torah, it was the first-born — the “lads” (Ex. 24:5) — of the Children of Israel who officiated at the sacrifices, as we read in MISHPATIM. However, with the sin of the Golden Calf (told next week in KI TISA), the first-born of the Children of Israel failed the crucial test. From that time on, the Priesthood was given to Aaron and his descendants as an hereditary gift for all time.

* * *

HEREDITARY PRIESTHOOD

In an era when public office in virtually all “advanced” countries is theoretically open to all citizens, the role of an hereditary priesthood, which is at the very center of the Torah’s system of penitence — the Sanctuary and Temple rituals — calls for some explanation.

Much of Genesis is taken up with disputes about who is to serve in the role of the “priest”. Cain struggled with Abel. Ishmael fought against Isaac. Esau fought against Jacob. Reuven was the first-born, but Levi took the initiative, Judah, fourth in line, became the leader, while it was the righteous Joseph (against whom all the brothers struggled) who received a firstborn’s double portion of two-tribes. And then Ephraim took priority over firstborn Menashe.

In Exodus: Levy’s second son, Kehat, took priority over Levy’s firstborn, Gershon. Amram was indeed Kehat’s firstborn, yet while the priesthood went to Amram’s older son, Aaron, the latter was secondary in prophecy to his younger brother, Moses. The firstborn of the Children of Israel had a brief taste of the priesthood at the time of the Giving of the Torah, 50 days after having been saved from the plague that killed all the Egyptian firstborn. However the Israelite firstborn were displaced from their “birth-right” — hereditary priesthood forever — owing to the sin of the Golden Calf.

This raises the question of the nature of the priesthood in Judaism, which is relevant to our parshah of TETZAVEH, all of which is devoted to the daily duties of the priests, their garments and their induction service.

It is true that the tribe of Levi (who did not participate in the sin of the Golden Calf), and the Kohanim are in many respects separate hereditary castes. Nevertheless, it remains the case that the ideal social structure of the Israelites as envisaged in the Torah is remarkably free of the social hierarchies and inequalities that characterize even the most “democratic” societies.

In particular, Israelite society is envisaged as one that should be free of any kind of extensive hierarchical network of full-time religious functionaries who act as intermediaries between the people and G-d, and whose service before their passive congregants takes the place of the individual’s personal relationship with G-d.

This is true, notwithstanding the fact that only the Kohanim (male descendants of Aaron), and members of the tribe of Levy could actually serve in the Temple, and only the Kohanim could perform certain vital ritual functions (such as purification from leprosy). Nevertheless, the Temple itself had a relatively small number of permanent priestly officials who were responsible for the maintenance of the House. The actual sacrificial services in the House were conducted by different priests every day. Each of the 24 contingents of priests into which the Kohanim were divided served for two weeks out of the year and on festivals, spending the rest of their time teaching Torah among the people in the localities where they lived. The only outstanding exception to this rule, besides the small core of permanent Temple staff, was the High Priest, who spent all his time in Jerusalem, most of it in the Temple itself.

It is certainly correct that the Kohanim were an hereditary priestly caste, who received TERUMAH, the first gift from everyone’s crops, as well as portions of meat, wool and various other gifts. This is what they lived off. The purpose of providing the members of this caste with their material needs was to enable them to devote themselves to a higher-than-average level of devotion (as expressed in eating of Terumah and sacrificial portions in ritual purity) and to the study of the Torah. It was the Kohanim who were expected to be able to play the role of the Torah judges (see Deuteronomy 19:17) in cases of disputes. They were also to play the central role in the “diagnosis” and “purification” of leprosy and other maladies (Leviticus Ch. 13ff.)

Nevertheless, it remains true that despite their exclusive role in the Temple sacrificial services and in the purification from leprosy, the Kohanim were not religious intermediaries who in some sense REPLACED the personal connection of the individual with G-d.

The Children of Israel were envisaged as a nation of free, independent small land-owners, each farming his own and sitting under his vine and fig-tree. Only in dire circumstances would one be sold as a slave to another (as instituted in MISHPATIM). Even one who fell into slavery would eventually go free at the end of seven years or in the Jubilee year. In the seventh year, all debts were to be cancelled. Those who had sold their land would get it back in the Jubilee year. The vision was not of a country where most of the wealth is permanently concentrated in the hands of a small elite.

Just as all of the Children of Israel heard the First Commandment, so they were all commanded to serve the One G-d, each through his own prayers and acts of service. The Torah commands that all of the Children of Israel must be holy (Leviticus 19:2). Everyone must strive to go in G-d’s ways. Becoming a Nazirite is considered an excess — the Nazirite must bring a sin-offering! There are no monks in Judaism.

Outside of the Temple itself, Israelite life was intended to be free of an elite of religious functionaries. Although the Kohen and Levy are honored by being called first and second to the public Torah reading, the actual synagogue and its services are run by its members, the majority of them Israelites. The service can only take place if a quorum of 10 Israelites is present. There is no need for an official rabbi as long as somebody present — any Israelite — knows how to lead the service and read from the Torah. The “functionaries” in Israelite society are the “captains of tens”, “captains of fifties”, “captains of hundreds” and “captains of thousands”. These must be “men of valor, G-d-fearing, men of truth, hating gain” (Ex. 18:21) — but they do not have to be Kohanim. In the Torah vision of the Israelite state, membership of the Sanhedrin, the Supreme Court of the state, is not to depend on heredity or wealth but only on Torah wisdom and personal sanctity.

What then is the role of the hereditary Kohanim, whose Temple service, garments and induction are the subject of our parshah of TETZAVEH?

The key concept necessary to understand the role of the Kohen, particularly that of the Kohen Gadol (High Priest), is the concept of KAPARAH — atonement. This and related concepts recur several times in our parshah. The purpose of the precious stones that were attached to the High Priest’s shoulders and bore the names of the tribes of Israel was that they should be “remembered” by G-d with favor. The wearing of the TZITZ, the head-plate inscribed “Holy to HaShem”, was to secure atonement for impurity. The closing verse of our parshah speaks of how the High Priest must annually sprinkle the golden Incense Altar with the blood of the Day of Atonement sin-offering in order to bring about KAPARAH — atonement.

The institution of the priesthood was not intended to replace individual attachment to G-d on the part of each person through his own devotions. While the Kohanim are charged with maintaining the Holy Temple as the central focus of Israelite and indeed world religious life (for “My House is the House of Prayer for all the Nations), their role in the devotional life of the individual is of significance primarily when the individual, independent “citizen” TURNS ASIDE from the path and falls into sin. He is then unable to help himself. If he is liable to bring a sacrifice, he needs a Kohen to offer it for him. If he has what he thinks is a leprous patch on his skin (a sign of a personal deficiency), he needs a Kohen to make the determination and a Kohen to purify him.

The Kohen can play his role as functionary in the Temple services and bringer of ATONEMENT only through standing aside from the rest of the people and demanding more of himself. The Kohanim were distinguished by their unique genetic inheritance as direct male descendants of Aaron, and they protected this inheritance by adhering to higher levels of personal sanctity (such as that a Kohen may not marry a divorcee, etc.).

The rich, colorful ritual garments of the High Priest embody this concept of separateness, sanctity and atonement. So too, the induction of the priests during their Seven Days of Initiation was characterized by separation, sanctity and the atonement accomplished through the offering of the ox sin offering (atoning for the sin of the Golden Calf) and the eating of peace offerings.

Atonement depends upon the priestly garments and the priests’ consumption of sacrificial portions. The original sin of Adam — of which the sin of the Golden Calf was a “repetition” — came about through eating. After Adam and Eve sinned, G-d gave them CLOTHES in order to cover over their nakedness and begin the process of atonement. The priests continue this process of atonement through wearing their unique garments while eating their portion of the sinner’s sacrifice.

The hereditary inheritance of the priesthood — Temple SERVICE — by the sons of Aaron is justified by the fact that Aaron joined himself to the Torah inheritance through his choice of a wife to mother his sons. For “Aaron took Elisheva the daughter of Aminadav, sister of Nachshon as his wife, and she bore him Nadav and Avihu, Elazar and Itamar” (Ex. 6:23). Elisheva’s father, Aminadav, was the Prince of Judah, the tribe to whom Jacob entrusted with guardianship of the Torah, while her brother Nachshon was the first to jump into the Red Sea. Torah knowledge is indispensable for the proper functioning of the priesthood. Without Torah, the priest is helpless — an ignoramus priest needs a Torah scholar to teach him how to make the correct determination in cases of leprosy.

Through the merit of our Torah study, may we see the Holy Temple rebuilt quickly in our times!!!

Shabbat Shalom!!! Happy Purim!!!

Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum

Elimination of Shevi’it Produce

In the beginning of the Shemitta year (the current year, 5775), we have explained the primary laws of Shevi’it. We have explained that there are several laws which apply to fruits and vegetables grown during the Shemitta year.

Elimination of Shevi’it Produce, In Israel and Abroad
Let us now discuss the laws of elimination of Shevi’it produce. We should point out that this law applies to both the residents of Israel and abroad; many people transgress this law due to a lack of knowledge. Additionally, some people have wine at home from the previous Shemitta year (5768 or even from the one before that, 5761) and they must be informed about how to treat such wine.

The following laws apply to the entire Shemitta year as well as to the eighth year, the year following Shevi’it. We must therefore be fluent in them, especially during this time.

To Which Fruits the Laws of Elimination of Shevi’it Produce Apply
Firstly, the laws of elimination of Shevi’it produce apply only to fruits which retain the sanctity of Shevi’it, i.e. fruits which grew on the land of a Jew in Israel during Shevi’it. However, fruits of the sixth year (even if they were harvested during Shemitta), fruits of non-Jewish fields, fruits from outside of Israel, or fruits of “Heter Mechira” do not retain the sanctity of Shevi’it and need not be eliminated.

Elimination of Shevi’it Produce
The Torah states regarding Shevi’it produce, “And the Shabbat of the land shall be for you to eat, for you, your servant, and your maidservant; and for your hired worker and your resident who dwell among you. And for your domesticated animal and for the beast in the field shall its produce be for food.” Our Sages (Pesachim 52b) that since the verse uses the words “and for your domesticated animal and the beast,” this means that the Torah wanted their law to be similar in that as long as the beast still eats in the field, one may feed his domesticated animal at home and if it ceases for the beast in the field, one must cease feeding it to one’s animal at home as well.

This means that the Torah teaches us that one may only eatShevi’it produce when this specific fruit is still available for the beast in the field as well. However, as soon as this species of fruit is no longer available in the field, it must be eliminated from one’s possession as well and it may not be eaten.

For example, figs that grow during the Shevi’it year are no longer available in orchards in the field beginning from Chanukah of the eighth year (approximately one year from now). Thus, if one has figs at home, one may eat them as much as he wishes. However, once Chanukah of the eighth year arrives when figs are no longer available in the field, one may no longer eat them at home either even if one has taken them several days before Chanukah, for from the time animals in the field can no longer eat this species of fruit, one may not eat this fruit at home either.

Every kind of fruit has its own special time for when it must be eliminated by. (There are likewise fruits and vegetables about which there is a doubt when they must be eliminated by.) We shall discuss this matter at length in following Halachot, G-d-willing.

The time when most fruits must be eliminated by is during the eighth year, i.e. next year, 5776. There are fruits, however, that must be eliminated by this year, 5775, such as the loquat fruit (a kind of orange plum grown in Israel known as “Shesek” in Hebrew) whose season is very short and requires elimination by approximately Sivan of 5775.

Regarding vegetables, in previous years, each vegetable’s time of elimination was based on its season at various times during theShemitta year. However, nowadays, there are vegetables which grow all year round, such as tomatoes, and therefore do not require elimination at all.

In the next Halacha we shall broaden this topic further and discuss the proper method of eliminating Shevi’it produce.

Motza’ei Shabbat Chanukah

On Motza’ei Shabbat Chanukah, in the synagogue, Chanukah candles are lit first and only following this is Havdala recited in order to delay the departure of Shabbat as much as possible. Although the one lighting the Chanukah candles removes the sanctity of Shabbat from himself, nevertheless, the rest of the members of the congregation who have not yet lit still retain the sanctity of Shabbat. Also, the Chanukah candles are lit first in order to publicize the miracle, for if Havdala were to be recited first, most of the congregation would have gone home before Chanukah candle-lighting.

When one returns home from synagogue, since the act of lighting a fire will in any case remove the sanctity of Shabbat, one should first recite Havdala and only then light Chanukah candles, for the more frequent Mitzvah should be performed first. (Havdala is indeed more frequent, for it is recited every week.)

Nightfall in Accordance with the Opinion of Rabbeinu Tam
Those who follow the righteous custom not to perform work on Motza’ei Shabbat until nightfall according to the opinion of Rabbeinu Tam should also abstain from lighting the Chanukah candles on Motza’ei Shabbat Chanukah until nightfall according to Rabbeinu Tam, for this is not merely “another good custom”; rather, it is correct and proper for everyone to follow the opinion of Rabbeinu Tam in this matter, especially since this is the opinion of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch as well. This was indeed the custom of Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l who spoke about this topic constantly throughout his entire life; he indeed encouraged us at Halacha Yomit to address this topic as well. Many have heeded Maran’s call and they shall indeed be blessed from above.

The “Boreh Me’orei Ha’esh” Blessing
One may not recite the blessing of “Boreh Me’orei Ha’esh” on the Chanukah candles (for instance, in the synagogue where Chanukah candles are lit before Havdala or if a person mistakenly lit the Chanukah candles at home before Havdala), for one may not recite this blessing until one benefits from the flame and it is forbidden to benefit from the light of the Chanukah candles. However, one may recite this blessing on the “Shamash” (additional) candle, for benefitting from the Shamash is permissible.

Lighting Electric Chanukah Candles
Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes that one does not fulfill his obligation by lighting electric Chanukah lights since an electric Menorah contains neither oil nor wicks and the miracle that occurred in the Menorah of the Holy Temple manifested itself in the oil which lasted for eight days. Therefore, even though one may light Chanukah candles filled with kerosene or paraffin oil, this is because they are somewhat similar to olive oil, unlike electricity which is in no way similar to olive oil. This is in addition to other reasons to prohibit lighting electric Chanukah candles. Maran zt”lwrites, however, that if one is in a situation where one cannot light Chanukah candles with either oil or wax candles, one may, in fact, light an electric Menorah without reciting a blessing. Additionally, the electric bulbs must be laid in a place where it is not usually placed the rest of the year for it to be noticeable that these are Chanukah candles.

We have already mentioned within the laws of lighting Shabbat candles that regarding the blessing of “Boreh Me’orei Ha’esh” on Motza’ei Shabbat that one must specifically use an open flame as opposed to electric light which is invalid for this blessing. We have also previously mentioned the Halacha regarding lighting Shabbat candles with electric bulbs.