Mitzvah Observance in the Land of Israel


In Parshat Emor- Vayikra 23:10,14 we read the words: “Speak to B’nei Yisrael and say to them ‘ki tavou el haaretz asher ani noten lachem- when you come into the land that I give to you and you reap its harvest, you shall bring an omer of the first fruits of your harvest to the kohen…Bread, parched grain or tender grain you shall not eat until this very day, until you bring the offering of your God; it is an everlasting statute for all your generations- bechol moshvoteichem- in all your dwelling places’”.

From these pesukim, we learn the prohibition of ‘chadash’, eating new grain before the omer is offered.

The Gemara in Kiddushin 37a asks if the prohibition of ‘chadash’ applies inside the Land of Israel as well as outside of the Land of Israel. Some say that this comes to teach us that we were not commanded regarding chadash until after taking possession of and settling the land, after conquering it and dividing it among the tribes.

The Mishna in Masechet Kiddushin 36b states: Every commandment that is dependent on the land (usually having to do with agriculture, the land and its produce) applies only in the Land of Israel. Every commandment that is not dependent on the land, applies both in the Land of Israel as well as outside of the Land of Israel. The exceptions to this rule would be the commandments of orlah (the fruits of a tree’s first three years are forbidden for all benefit) and kilayim (hybrids) which are dependent on the land yet even apply outside of the Land of Israel.

Rabbi Eliezer says the commandment of chadash is also an exception and would apply both inside and outside of Israel. Rabbi Eliezer’s reasoning is that at the end of the pasuk concerning chadash it said “bechol moshvoteichem, in all of your dwelling places” meaning both inside and outside of the Land of Israel. However, “in all of your dwelling places could denote all of your dwelling places in the land of Israel after the conquest and division of the land is complete and the Jews are then settled in it. Rashi comments that during the fourteen years that it took the Jews under Yehoshua to achieve that settlement of the land, the laws of chadash did not apply.

Today, there are communities outside of Israel who take the stricter opinion and will not eat chadash. In Israel, there is no question that chadash along with all of the other land related mitzvoth which do not involve the Beit HaMikdash must be observed.

Over a third of the 613 mitzvoth are linked to the land and can only be performed in the Land of Israel. The full Torah can only be observed in the Land of Israel when the Beit HaMikdash is rebuilt.

Aside from the mitzvoth that are linked to the land, the Chafetz Chayim comments that the value of a mitzvah which is performed in the Land of Israel like putting on Tefilin is twenty times greater than the performance of the same mitzvah outside of the Land.

Let’s hope and pray that the Beit HaMikdash will speedily be rebuilt so that we can perform all of the mitzvoth in the Torah. Until then let’s try to observe as many mitzvoth as we can in the land of Israel.