Thursday, April 22, 2010

"Why ORLAH "? - Thoughts on this weeks Parashat Kedoshim


This upcoming Shabbat, we read two Torah Parashot: Acharei Mot and Kedoshim
In previous Parashot such as Vayikra, Zav, Schmini, Tazria, Metzorah and Acharei Mot, G - d gave us various Mitzvot in order to keep us pure (Tahor). He commanded us (the Jews) to be a holy nation because He (G - d) is holy. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch commentated that the Jews are commanded to keep certain rules and thus fulfill the will of G - d on this earth. His Mitzvot are the fundament for the Jews living their Judaism.

Parashat Kedoshim provides us a wide range of social Mitzvot. About how humans should relate to each other and not only to G - d. However, my special subject at this point is ORLAH. Not eating the fruits of a tree for the first three years.

Sefer Vayikra (Leviticus), Parashat Kedoshim, 19:23 - 25:

And when ye shall come into the land and plant any tree for food, then, during a time of restriction of its use, ye shall be restricted in the use of its fruit. Three years it shall be restricted for you, shall not be eaten.

Then in the fourth year all its fruit becomes holy wherewith to praise the Work of G - d.

And in the fifth year shall ye eat its fruit, that henceforth it may increase its produce unto you: I, G - d, am your Lord.

Eating a produce of a newly planted tree for the first three years is forbidden. In the fourth year, the Jews used to carry the new harvest (fruit) to the Temple in Jerusalem, ate it there while thanking G - d for His kindness of letting the fruit grow.
However, Orlah only applies in Israel and only to fruit trees whose produce is meant for consumption but not for trees which are supposed to be a kind of hedge etc.

Why was the Orlah law given ? Don't we thank G - d already in the blessings (Berachot) we say before and after eating the fruit ?

I found a great comment on Orlah written by Rabbi Moshe Sofer (the CHATAM SOFER, 1762 - 1839):

We already find the Orlah concept in Gan Eden (Paradise) with Adam HaRishon and his wife Chava (Eve). As we all know, Adam failed to fulfill his Tikun (soul rectifiation) and thus became mortal. G - d had commanded him to eat from any fruit tree in Gan Eden but not from the Tree of Knwoledge (Etz HaDa'at). Adam and Chava failed in their tasks and were thrown out of Paradise.

The Chatam Sofer comes up with the famous Rashi commentary from Genesis (Bereshit) 1:11 - 12 where G - d is commanding the earth to bring forth trees which are fruit. ETZ PRI - this is G - d's demand from the earth. Rashi sees in ETZ PRI a fruit tree whose branches, leaves, etc. taste like its fruit.

Just imagine a cherry tree whose leaves you eat and they taste like the cherries themselves. This is what G - d originally had in mind.

The next sentence:
VATOZE HAARETZ = And the earth brought forth …
ETZ OSSEH PRI = Trees yielding fruit …
VE LO HAETZ PRI = But the tree itself was not fruit …

This is why when Adam was punished, the earth was taken into consideration, as it had sinned years before. The earth hadn't listen to G - d's commandment and willingly created the wrong kind of tree. Later, the first human (Adam HaRishon) was formed from the dust of the ground, and thus the bad influence of the earth entered him. Of course, he could have resisted and not eaten from the Tree of Knowledge but he didn't.

The Chatam Sofer quotes from the kabbalistic ZOHAR (published in Spanien in 1290): Only after three years, the earth is bringing forth "Kedusha - Holiness". In the years before, too much "Koach HaChizoni" - external negative powers would be ruling and this is why the consumption of such fruit is first forbidden. There is a possibility that the bad influence of the earth is being passed onto into the human.

A brilliant conclusion from the Chatam Sofer !

"Shabbat Shalom"

No comments:

Post a Comment