Parshas Ki Savo 5757 - '97
Outline # 52
by Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein
Chodshei Hashanah Part Thirty Six
1. Don't Be A Green Esrog!
Last week, we discussed opinions concerning the Green Esrog. The Talmud
concluded that the fruit is not fully developed; the commentaries maintained
that as long as it would become yellow, it is the correct kind of esrog,
and this is sufficient.
However, the Bach required that the esrog be completely yellow. The reason
for the Bach was not that the green fruit remained unfinished, but that the
Torah requires each of the four species to be "hadar" -- beautiful.
One of the topics in the Parsha concerns Ma'aser (Tithes). Here is some
general information regarding Ma'aser Rishon -- The First Tenth: Produce
(from Eretz Yisrael) would be tithed and given to the Levite. (At one point,
Ezra fined the Levites, because of their reluctance to return to the Land,
and ruled that the first tithe be given to the Kohein instead.) The Rabbis
decreed that the lands in the vicinity of Eretz Yisrael be obligated in
Ma'aser as well.
The fiscal year for the ma'aser of Grains and Vegetables begins with Rosh
Hashanah; for fruits of trees the year begins at Tu B'shvat (15th of Shvat).
Produce of one year could not be tithed together with produce from another
In order to be obligated in ma'aser, the produce had to be considered
developed enough to be food. For vegetables, this is only after gathering.
For fruits of trees, after the fruit has started to blossom (1/3 growth).
This is called "onas ma'asros" -- the ma'aser period. Each species therefore
has its own time period, depending on the season when it develops into a
Ripening of Fruit, Brochos and Ma'aser (Tithe)
Some produce only ripens after being harvested. There are certain types
of dates that only become edible after being harvested. They can only be
tithed when they are edible. The work, Libun Halacha argues that bananas
are harvested in a hard, green state, when they are completely inedible.
Traditionally, they were tithed after harvesting, before being sold. Libun
Halacha writes that this is in error, for only after ripening do they first
The esrog is somewhat similar in that it turns yellow off the tree. The
Libun Halacha chides the Moadim Uzmanim, who compared the banana and the
esrog. The banana is not at all fit to eat when harvested. You can only make
the proper brocha when the banana turns yellow, and that is precisely when
you would take the ma'aser. The esrog, as we said, is not a matter of unripe
fruit. As long as it will turn yellow, it is the right type of fruit, and
that's all we were looking for. As far as eating is concerned, there is no
difference in the edibility of the esrog when it is green or yellow.
Are You a Green Esrog?
Some rabbis suggest purchasing the esrog before Rosh Hashanah, so that
if it is green, it can be turned yellow. By placing the esrog in a box between
two apples for 24 hours, the color changes. (You must wait four days after
picking, and remove the esrog from the box promptly after 24 hours). This
is only according to the stringent opinion of the Bach.
Well, some of us still feel green at Rosh Hashanah. We have two choices:
If we have started to lighten up, we can argue that we are the right species
-- we will eventually ripen! Or -- we can try to cook ourselves, and actually
change color, so that by Sukos we will actually be of beautiful, ripe appearance.
The choice is ours -- but time is running out, so we must hurry!
2. The Two Days of Rosh Hashanah
Although, traditionally, there are two days of Yom Tov, Rosh Hashanah
differs from the other festivals. The two days of Rosh Hashanah have
"kedushah achas" -- one sanctity -- and are treated as "yoma arichta" --
one extended day. There is much confusion about this concept; as it often
happens, different sides can be found among the early authorities, and the
attitudes current today, may, in fact, stem from the ancient debates.
Simply put, the decree to observe two days of Rosh Hashanah was a definite
law -- not because of any doubt -- but a deliberate decision. The two days
of the festivals, however, were observed in the Diaspora because those far
from the Sanhedrin (high court) would not be aware of the exact date; out
of doubt they had to observe two days. The Talmud concludes that both days
are not jointly viewed as sanctified, rather one of the days is holy, but
we are unsure which one. This is called "shtei kedushos" -- two sanctities:
each day is separately sanctified, in case that day was the actual Yom Tov.
There is a legal difference between the two concepts ("kedushah achas"
-- one sanctity of Rosh Hashanah, and "shtei kedushos" -- two sanctities
of the festivals). If the hen laid an egg on the first day of the festival,
it can be eaten on the second day, because the two days of Yom Tov cannot
both be holy. This logic does not apply to Rosh Hashanah, where both days
are of definite status. (Beginning of Tractate "Beitza" -- The Egg.)
Where Does It Lead Us
It is often assumed that the One Sanctity idea of Rosh Hashanah means
that the two days have identical significance; but it doesn't seem to be
The Magen Avraham (585) rules regarding one who is in doubt as to whether
he heard the shofar. On the first day, he should sound the tekios again,
because they are a Torah requirement. On the second day, however, he need
not, because the requirement of the second day is Rabbinic in nature. In
a similar question, Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank (Mikra'ei Kodesh, chapter 24) was
in doubt. Perhaps the concept of One Sanctity determines that the tekios
of both days are of equal status? In the end, citing various sources, he
also concluded that there is no obligation to be stringent on the second
The "common assumption," that the two days of Rosh Hashanah have identical
significance, does have a source, however: the Rambam.
Bris Milah On Yom Tov Sheni
(Circumcision On Second Day of Festivals)
The Bris Milah (circumcision) is performed on the eighth day, and overrides
Shabbos and Yom Tov. However, where it was not performed on the eighth day,
it does not override Shabbos or festivals. What about the second day of Yom
Tov, which is from Rabbinic decree?
The Mishnah (Shabbos, 19:5) declares that Bris Milah after the eighth
day is not performed on either of the two days of Rosh Hashanah. For some
reason, other festivals were not mentioned. Why was only the second day of
Rosh Hashanah mentioned? The Rambam explains that this law applies precisely
to Rosh Hashanah, because both days have the One Sanctity. The Bris would
be performed on the second day of other festivals (even though it is not
the eighth day).
The Rosh, though, disagreed. The reason the Bris would not be performed
on the Second Day of Rosh Hashanah has nothing to do with One Sanctity or
Two Sanctities. Bris Milah -- after the eighth day -- is not performed on
any day of Yom Tov.
The Rosh explained, to his thinking, why only Rosh Hashanah had been
mentioned. The authors of the Mishnah lived in Eretz Yisrael; except for
Rosh Hashanah, only one day of Yom Tov is observed there. The Mishnah therefore
mentions a second day Yom Tov which applied to the authors -- Rosh Hashanah.
However, the law would be the same for other holidays, as well.
One question bothers us. Why, according to the Rosh, could the Bris not
be performed on the second day of an ordinary festival? Apparently, the legal
distinction between "One Sanctity" and "Two Sanctities" has no real significance.
There is an ancient decree of two days for the festivals, and each day will
be regarded as a complete Yom Tov. To the Rambam, however, only one day is
truly Yom Tov (on an ordinary Yom Tov). We are inclined to say that it is
the first day. Therefore, the Bris should be performed on the second day.
Two Sanctities -- Not a Doubt
In Haaros 24 of this year, we showed from the Magen Avraham and Maharshal
that the two days of the ordinary Yom Tov are not really considered doubtful.
It may be that because of an original doubt, the decree for two days' observance
was made; nonetheless, we now find ourselves with two days Yom Tov, each
of which need be treated as such.
Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein
1 Babbin Court
Text Copyright © '97 Rabbi
Yaakov Bernstein and Project Genesis,