By Rabbi Yechiel Teichman, COR Rabbinic Coordinator
1) What is yoshon?
The Torah states that grain which was planted after Pesach may not be consumed until the following Pesach.
In greater detail, grain may not be consumed until it has “seen” the 18th of Nissan (in Israel, it is the 17th of Nissan). Grain which was planted or has taken root after Pesach is considered new, or chodosh, crop and will not be permissible until the 18th of Nissan of the following year. After that date, the grain is considered old, or yoshon, crop and is permitted to be eaten.
If grain has been harvested or has taken root prior to the 16th of Nissan, then it is considered yoshon.
Clearly, all grain is yoshon immediately after Pesach, and concerns about chodosh products begin only when the next crop has been planted and reaches the marketplace.
2) Which grains are regulated by the laws of chodosh?
The “five grains” – wheat, oats, rye, barley and spelt.
3) Do the laws of chodosh apply outside of Eretz Yisroel?
Shulchan Aruch O.C. 489:10 states that these laws apply outside of Eretz Yisroel.
4) Why is it that many view yoshon as merely a chumra (stringency)?
Many reasons are given why most observant Jews do not keep this custom. The Magen Avrohom outlines that the minhag is to rely on an opinion in the Rishonim. This opinion states that, in our times, chodosh is a Rabbinic decree that was enacted only for the areas near Eretz Yisroel. This minority opinion is relied upon as a result of the difficulty in obtaining an adequate supply of basic items that are yoshon. Additionally, some say that chodosh only applies to grains that are grown by a Jew. Another reason offered by the Rema in Yoreh Deah. (293:3) is that based on the concept of sfek sfeika (literally a double doubt), we can assume where it is not otherwise certain that the grain one is consuming is indeed yoshon and therefore permissible.
5) What is the halacha?
It has become the custom in many communities to be lenient in this regard, while some communities follow the Mishnah Berurah’s (O.C. 489:45) recommendation to be strict when and where possible.
6) Does COR publish Canadian yoshon updates? If yes, how can I access this information?
COR Senior Rabbinic Coordinator, Rabbi Yehoshua Norman, publishes periodic updates with yoshon cutoff dates for many commonly used Canadian products.
These updates are available on our website, www.cor.ca. They can also be obtained by signing up for Rabbi Heber’s Kosher Insiders email group. To be added to the list, please email Rabbi Heber at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the COR office.
Additionally, a valuable source for information on American products is called A Guide to Chodosh, written by R’ Yosef Herman of Monsey N.Y.
To order A Guide to Chodosh, send a request to email@example.com.
7) Does COR certify retail food establishments as yoshon?
Yes, COR certifies select retail food establishments, including bakeries, restaurants and pizza shops, that provide yoshon goods. A yoshon-certified establishment will have on display a yoshon certificate, identifying which items on the menu are yoshon. To find a list of COR establishments which provide yoshon goods, please refer to Rabbi Norman’s most recent yoshon update online.
8) Must I stockpile grain products for six months to keep yoshon?
It is recommended to employ a three pronged strategy that includes 1) identifying stores, brands and products that will be yoshon all year; 2) stocking up on items that will be difficult to find later; and 3) learning to read date codes to ascertain yoshon status.
When storing products, one must be cognizant of infestation. This can effect barley grains (which are best stored in a freezer or in cold storage), flour and other products. Sealed plastic bags and containers may be useful. One should avoid storing foods (such as pasta and cereal) for prolonged periods in warm or moist areas.
9) Which stores make an effort to stock yoshon products?
Kosher City and Kolbo carry both yoshon and chodosh items, and proprietors are able to identify yoshon items. Many bakeries provide yoshon products as well. Ultimately it is the consumer’s responsibility to verify the yoshon status of any given product.
10) What are the cutoff dates for yoshon?While the Guide to Chodosh provides general cutoff dates for various grains and products, COR’s list provides specific dates on products. Consumer should be aware that general dates estimate when the chodosh crops will start to be used by product manufacturers.
11) What are the general U.S.A. 2022-3 chodosh dates provided by the Guide to Yoshon?
Spring wheat – August 18
Noodles and pasta – August 27
Pearl barley – August 10
Oats – August 13
Oats in General Mills cereal – October 3, 2023 (Best by Date)
Barley malt – pack date – December 15, 2022, purchase by date – March 15, 2023/ purchase by date for beer – December 15, 2022.
Past these dates, the Guide recommends checking the product date.
12) How does one read a date code?
Some date codes are the date of manufacture, while some are the best before date. Some manufacture dates are straightforward, while others are in code form. One common code employed is the Julian date. It counts the number of days in the year. A code of 13 256 can mean 2013 September 13.
12) How does a best by date tell us when the product was manufactured?
The best by date is used in conjunction with the product shelf life to determine the date of manufacture. Most cold cereals have a one year shelf life, while pasta typically has a two to three year shelf life.
13) Which products are always yoshon?
North American winter wheat, spelt and rye are winter crops and are always yoshon since they are planted before Pesach of the previous year. Products made with winter wheat include (chometz) matza, Tradition soups, Gefen soup cups and Twizzlers. Products from Eretz Yisroel that bear a reliable kosher certification are always yoshon.
14) What are the cutoff dates for some common American food items?
Tofutti cuties – chodosh date: 22230 or later (230= day of year, 22= year)
Nature Valley granola bars – chodosh date: AUG 20 2023 (372 days aft. pkg.)
(from A Guide to Chodosh)