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By Rabbi Haim Y. Mamane

Part 1

On the second day of Pesach, we begin to count Sefirat HaOmer. This continues for the next forty-nine days, up until Shavuot. Yet, the second day of Pesach carries another significant and perhaps lesser-known event: it is on this day that all grains become yashan. Yes, I am referring to the kashrut standard known as kemach yashan. After Pesach, everything becomes yashan!

What exactly is kemach yashan and what does it have to do with Pesach and the mitzvah of Sefirat HaOmer?

Sefirat HaOmer — Transition Time

Let us begin by introducing the mitzvahof Sefirat HaOmer.

Sefirat HaOmer, as its name implies, is the yearly countdown that commences on the night following the first day of Pesach and continues until the holiday of Shavuot.Day after day, for forty-nine days, we count with excitement toward Matan Torah.

Just as with other mitzvot, we find that the Chachamim instituted a blessing prior to performing this mitzvah. Let us focus on the phraseology of the berachah:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה הֹ’, אֱלֹקינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בּמִצְוֹתָיו, וצִוָּנוּ עַל ספִירַת העומר.

What is this “Omer” that we refer to when reciting the berachah prior to the daily count, and what does it have to do with the count?

In the time of the Beit Hamikdash, Sefirat HaOmer began on the night prior to the ceremony of Hanafat HaOmer, the wave offering. The Kohen would prepare a lamb to be sacrificed as a Korban Olah, a burnt offering, and alongside the korban, he would prepare fine flour that was to be mixed with oil. This offering was waved in all four directions, up, down, right, and left. It was then placed on the edge of the southwest corner of the Mizbeach. A handful was offered on the Mizbeach, and the remainder was eaten by the Kohanim.[1]

This ritual took place on the second day of Pesach, the 16th of Nissan. For this reason, (although not “directly” related), we refer to the Omer ceremony as the reference point to the first day of the Sefirah count. However, aside from this, the Omer marked another very significant and relevant event in the Jewish calendar. It was upon offering the Omer that all the prohibited “chadash” products were instantaneously transformed into permitted “yashan” products.

What Exactly Is Yashan?

In halachah, the terms “yashan” and “chadash,” literally, “old” and “new,” refer to crops that began to take root either before or after the second day of Pesach. Crops that took root before Pesach are referred to as yashan, and crops that took root after Pesach are referred to as chadash. As a general rule, food that is chadash is (temporarily) prohibited, whereas food that is yashan is permitted. This applies to all food items that were produced from — or contain some — chadash grain.

The Source

The Torah states in Parashat Emor (Vayikra 23:14):

וְלֶחֶם וְקָלִי וְכַרְמֶל לֹא תֹאכְלוּ עַד עֶצֶם הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה עַד הֲבִיאֲכֶם אֶת קָרְבַּן אֱלֹקיכֶם חֻקַּת עוֹלָם לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶם בְּכֹל משְׁבֹתֵיכֶם:

You shall not eat bread or parched grain or fresh ears, until that very day, until you have brought the offering of Hashem [the Korban HaOmer], it is a law for all time throughout the ages in all your settlements.

The Torah prohibits the consumption (or reaping) of “chadash” grains prior to the offering of the Omer. Once the korban is brought, these once-prohibited chadash grains transform into permitted yashan grains.

In short, there are two ways to acquire a yashan status:

  1. Grains that took root prior to Pesach.
  2. Grains that took root after Pesach only acquire a yashan status after the offering of the Korban Omer on the following Pesach.

So, this year, when we recite the berachah of Sefirat HaOmer, let us take the time to focus on and internalize the significance and relevance the HaOmer had on our everyday lives.

Oh No! What about Nowadays?

Unfortunately, since the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash, we can no longer perform the Korban HaOmer ceremony. So what serves as the turning point nowadays for chadash grains to transform into yashan?

The Torah teaches us:

וְלֶחֶם וְקָלִי וְכַרְמֶל לֹא תֹאכְלוּ עַד עֶצֶם הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה:

You shall not eat bread or parched grain or fresh ears, until that very day.

Our Sages learn from this pasuk that aside from the Korban HaOmer, the day of the 16thof Nissan also has the authority to transform the grains into yashan. In practice, chadash remains prohibited in Eretz Yisrael until the onset of the 17th of Nissan, and in chutz la’aretz until the onset of the 18th of Nissan.[2]

So, Which Grains Apply to the Laws of Yashan?

The pesukim do not list explicitly the grains that must be yashan. However, the Gemara in Menachot (70b) does:

(1) החיטין 2)) והשעורין 3)) והכוסמין 4)) והשיבולת שועל 5)) והשיפון הרי אלו חייבין בחלה ומצטרפין זה עם זה ואסורים בחדש מלפני הפסח.

Wheat, barley, spelt, oats, and rye are the five grains subject to the halachot of chadash. There are multiple species, varieties, and names for the abovementioned grains, and due to their origins, they remain subject to the various halachot that pertain to grains. For example, durum is a species of wheat, and must therefore be yashan to be consumed. Couscous, which is produced from durum (wheat) semolina, is required to be yashan as well. Another example is triticale, which is a hybrid of wheat and rye, and it therefore remains bound to the laws of yashan. On the other hand, rice, quinoa, corn, and corn semolina, although considered grains, are not part of the abovementioned group and are therefore permitted all year round.

Common Agriculture Practices

So, here is where the yashan challenge begins. Due to weather conditions, certain parts of the world, including North America and Europe, can plant wheat twice a year, in the fall and spring. Wheat is therefore typically classified as “spring wheat” or “winter wheat,” according to the season in which it is planted. Within each strain of wheat there are multiple classes, such as hard red winter wheat, soft red winter wheat, soft red spring wheat, soft white spring wheat, durum, and more. Each class of wheat carries its own characteristics and benefits.

Winter wheat is planted in the fall. The seed sprouts and develops into a small plant. The wheat is then required to go through a dormant cycle under cold temperatures, known as vernalization.[3] In order to be able to survive the winter, the wheat needs to develop to a height of 10 to 15 centimeters. In early spring, the wheat resumes its growth, and once mature, the winter wheat is ready for harvest.

Spring wheat, on the other hand, does not need to undergo a cold dormant period; on the contrary, cold may even damage the grain. Therefore, in cold climates such as Canada, North America, and parts of Europe, spring wheat is planted in the spring and harvested during the summer months.

In North America, oats and barley are generally spring crops, whereas spelt and rye are generally winter crops.

What Does This Mean in Halachic Terms?

According to their growing habits, all spring crops should be presumed to be chadash since they are planted after Pesach and harvested two or three months later[4]. Therefore, such grains should not be consumed until they have passed their first Pesach. Winter crops, on the other hand, can be presumed to be yashan since they are planted in the fall and only harvested after the following Pesach.

Note: This applies to winter and spring wheat grown in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, which has the opposite climate, winter wheat would be considered chadash and spring wheat would be considered yashan.

Part 2

Chadash in Chutz La’Aretz — The Halachah

The question that irks many kosher consumers is whether yashan needs to be kept outside of Eretz Israel since, as a general rule, land-bound mitzvot such as shemittah, terumot, and maasrot are typically only practiced on Eretz Yisrael–grown produce. Nonetheless, halachah does state some exceptions that are also observed in chutz la’aretz despite being land bound, for example, orlah, kilayim, and challah. The Mishnah also lists chadash as a possible exception, as we will see below.[5]

This means that in practice, chadash produce grown in Eretz Yisrael is prohibited according to all opinions, but produce grown outside of Eretz Yisrael is subject to much discussion among the greatest halachic authorities.

The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 293) rules that according to Torah law, the prohibition of chadash applies in chutz la’aretz just as it does in Eretz Yisrael. The Rama agrees, but some explain his position that, unlike the Shulchan Aruch, chadash is only prohibited mi’d’Rabanan (according to Rabbinic law). In contrast, the Bach, a prominent Ashkenazi posek (Yoreh Deah 293), is of the opinion that only chadash grown in Eretz Yisrael is prohibited, but in chutz la’aretz, non-Jewish-owned crops are permitted.

So, Why Have I Never Heard of This?

The reader may wonder, if the Shulchan Aruch and the Rama prohibit chadash outside of Eretz Yisrael, why have I never really heard about this?

To understand this better, I will need to provide some context. As mentioned above, countries that experience mild winters, such as those in South Asia, North Africa (Morocco, Tunisia and Alegeria), and the Middle East (Israel), generally only have one wheat planting season. In such countries, even the “problematic” spring wheat is planted in fall and only harvested in late spring (after Pesach) of the following year. For this reason, in these countries, wheat will virtually always be yashan.

Perhaps it is for this reason that many of our grandparents who came from those countries never even heard about yashan. Due to the climate and agricultural practices, the “yashanchadash” discussion was simply nonexistent. However, in the climate-permitting European countries like Poland, Russia, and Ukraine, two wheat harvest were more common, so this topic was relevant and more often discussed.

Nonetheless, in European countries, halachic authorities historically chose to be melamed zechut[6] on those who were not particular about yashan for one simple reason: there was no other food available. They therefore implemented multiple halachic considerations, such as “safek chadash[7]” “sfek sfeka” and “rov,” as brought down in the Rama and Mshnah Berurah. These halachic considerations permit us to assume that the product in front of the consumer is indeed yashan without needing proof. Other halachic authorities based themselves on the opinion of Bach, who due to the difficult situation is Europe, searched to find a halachic basis to permit chadash outside of Eretz Yisrael without needing to rely on sfekot and rov. Aside from certain rabbanim and individuals, this was most likely the accepted practice in those days.

Modern-Day Application

It is important to understand the difference between the Bach’s approach and the Rama’s approach. According to the Bach, the prohibition outside of Eretz Yisrael does not apply, and this permits the consumer to turn a blind eye to the agricultural reality of his time. However, according to the Rama, the prohibition of chadash does apply. For this reason, the applications of safek and/or rov are required in order to consider the food yashan, which means that modern-day agricultural practices must be taken into consideration. If the circumstances were to change — for example, the majority of produce in the area is chadash or if the element of safek is removed — the Rama would agree that the food is prohibited for consumption.

We find that in Poland, the Mishnah Berurah[8] (489:45) only permitted wheat and rye but prohibited barley, oats, and spelt, since the majority of their production was chadash. He went on to prohibit wheat after the railroad system began regularly importing wheat from chadash-prone countries.

If this was the situation then, all the more so today, when the import-export market has become a standard in the modern food industry. Last year, I was researching a popular couscous brand produced in Morocco, and to my surprise, the Morocco-based manufacturers were importing the flour used to produce the couscous from Canada! The point is that unless one follows the opinion of the Bach, one should not simply consider chadash as “permitted” without first verifying the agricultural practices of that year.

The Yashan Policy — North American versus Israeli Kashrut Agencies

Nowadays, most kashrut agencies in North America have adopted the Bach’s opinion as policy. That being said, the yashan-conscious consumer market has grown tremendously in recent years. Kashrut agencies are therefore working very hard to provide us with more yashan products as well as accurate yashan information to help consumers navigate through the vast food industry!

On the other hand, in Eretz Yisrael, yashan is basic kashrut standard that all reliable hechsherim keep diligently. In terms of domestic Israeli grains, chadash is certainly prohibited, and they must be yashan according to all without a doubt. However, even when it comes to imported grains and products that are subject to the yashan-chadash discussion, Israeli kashrut agencies will not certify them as kosher. The Rabbanut of Israel for example, will not approve or certify any product until proven to be yashan. I myself recently dealt with the Israeli Rabbanut, regarding MK-certified products, and they demanded a rigorous yashan standard and a written confirmation from the MK prior to approving the production.

For this reason, all Israeli products with a reliable hechsher are automatically considered yashan.

All or Nothing?

The Mishnah Berurah encourages the practice of yashan to the best of one’s abilities. He stresses that one should not simply give up and rely on the lenient opinions due to the challenges involved. One should implement what he can, and take it step by step. This is all the more true for Sephardim, who follow the opinion of the Shulchan Aruch; much effort should be invested in being stringent in the halachot of yashan. Rav Yaakov Yosef, zt”l, related that when traveling to chutz la’aretz, his father, HaRav Ovadia, zt”l, would first inquire as to whether the host kept yashan prior to accepting an invitation.

In Montreal, we are privileged to have most of our bakeries completely certified MK-Yashan. Many of our favorite restaurants also provide many yashan options. Yashan awareness is constantly growing and developing in North America, and with time, many more products will surely be available, even in the commercial market. Remember, even chalav Yisrael and glatt meat took time to become recognized as standard for many kashrut agencies.


Trusted kashrut organizations worldwide such as the MK work tirelessly for months in advance to be able to provide the consumer with accurate and user-friendly yashan information. The consumer should do his part by learning how to read product date codes and familiarizing himself with the various policies and lists that other hechsherim provide. The Yoshon Network ( is a great tool that facilitates yashan for all.

Remember, there is no set date for when the chadash season begins; it all depends on the harvest of that year. The MK is in regular contact with multiple fields and mills throughout Canada so we can keep you updated on when their chadash grains begin to hit the market.

For now, everything will soon be yashan, but stay tuned for next year’s yashan season!

[1] רמבם תמידין ומוספין ז,יא-יב

[2] The Gemara states that Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai established that the grains be prohibited for the whole of the 16thof Nissan. As of the 17thof Nissan (the night of after the 16th), all grain becomes yashan. According to Rabbi Yehudah, when the Omer is not sacrificed, the whole day of the 16th is prohibited according to Torah law. In chutz la’aretz, chadash remains prohibited until the onset of the 18th (the night after the 17th).

[3] The process by which plants use a prolonged cold period such as winter.

[4] It should be noted that some raw products may already be on the market towards the end of the summer. 

[5] Kiddushin 37a

[6] וז”ל המשנה ברורה סימן תפט ס”ק מ”ה: ומ”מ רוב העולם אין נזהרין כלל באיסור חדש ויש שלמדו עליהם זכות לפי שהוא דבר קשה להיות זהיר בזה ולכן סומכין מפני הדחק על מקצת הראשונים וכו’ והנה אף שאין בידינו למחות ביד המקילין מ”מ כל בעל נפש לא יסמוך על התירים הללו ויחמיר לעצמו בכל מה שאפשר לו כי להרבה גדולי הראשונים הוא איסור דאורייתא בכל גווני. עכ”ל.

[7] Safek chadash, sfek sfeka and rov are different methods used by the Torah and Halachic authorities to be Posek a Halacha. A Safek is when a doubt exists, for example, whether or not the item is Yashan. At times a single Safek does not suffice and Sfek Sfeka, a double doubt is required to permit. A Rov, is when the majority of either Chadash or Yashan is present. The application of such methods should only be implemented by Halachic authorities.

[8] וכתבו האחרונים דבמדינת פולין אין להקל כ”א בחטין ושיפון דרובא דרובא נזרעים בחודש חשון ואין שייך בהם חדש [אם לא אותן שידועין שנזרעו בקיץ] אבל שעורים ושבולת שועל וכוסמין רובן וכמעט כולם נזרעים אחר הפסח וגם אין רגיל להביא שם תבואה ממדינות אחרות אין להקל בם. וכו’ ודע עוד דאף שכתבנו לעיל בשם האחרונים דבחטין אין לחוש כלל שמא הם של חדש מפני דהרוב נזרעו בודאי בחודש חשון כהיום שדרך להביא ע”ד מסלת הברזל קמח חטים ממקומות הרחוקין וידוע שבפנים רוסיא נמצא הרבה מקומות שנזרעו החטין בקיץ ומצוי שם חדש כמעט יותר מן הישן אם יודע שבא הקמח משם צריך ליזהר בזה בימות החורף שאז כבר נעשין הקמח מתבואה חדשה. ולענין שכר ויתר דיני חדש עיין ביו”ד סי’ רצ”ג ובאחרונים שם:

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