The Torah portion of Emor speaks of the Omer offering to be brought on the second day of Pesach.1 The verse states:2 “Until the day that you bring this sacrifice to your G‑d, you may not eat bread, roasted grain or fresh grain. This shall be an eternal law for all generations, in all your dwelling places.”

The above law is known as the law of Chadash , whereby grain that has not begun to take root before Pesach is forbidden until the following Pesach. As to whether this law applies only in Eretz Yisrael or in the Diaspora as well, Rashi — quoting the words “in all your dwelling places” — states the following:

“The Jewish wise men were in disagreement. Some3 derived from here that Chadash applies in the Diaspora as well. Others say4 [that it applies only in Eretz Yisrael , and] that the verse merely indicates that the command of Chadash only began after inheriting and settling….”

What is the basis of the disagreement regarding whether Chadash applies outside Eretz Yisrael ?

Rashi touches upon this question by employing the unusual term “The Jewish wise men,” rather than more common terms such as “the Rabbis,” “the Sages,” and the like. By using the term “Jewish wise men” he is indicating that their difference of opinion stems from their differing notions as to how to best assess the characteristics and affect the feelings of the Jewish people:

Whenever an offering was brought, it was supposed to engender a certain feeling within the person bringing it, a feeling consonant with the type of offering brought. For example, a Sin Offering was to be accompanied by a feeling of contrition and repentance, while a Thanksgiving Offering was to be accompanied by a feeling of gratitude, etc.

This was true not only of an individual offering, but with regard to communal offerings as well; every communal offering was expected to produce a concordant feeling within every member of the community.

The prohibition against eating Chadash , the reason for which is that the very first fruit of the harvest should be brought as an (Omer) offering, is supposed to engender the recognition and feeling that the first of all one’s produce must be brought to G‑d. Only after having done so can one utilize the fruits of one’s labor for one’s own purposes.

The Omer was brought exclusively from grain that grew in Eretz Yisrael. The feeling that the very first was to be brought to G‑d was thus only felt by those Jews who lived in Eretz Yisrael. How was this feeling transmitted to those who lived outside Eretz Yisrael ?

Herein we find the two opinions of the “Jewish wise men”: One view is that Jews in the Diaspora are also forbidden to eat Chadash. Since this prohibition applies to them as well, it will instill the feeling that the first of all their produce should go to G‑d.

The second opinion holds the opposite view — that the way to instill the above feeling is not by prohibiting Chadash , but by permitting it. Thus, the very fact that grain grown by Jews outside Eretz Yisrael is not fit for the Omer (and thus the laws of Chadash do not apply), awakens within these Jews an awareness of their lowly state; they are unable to bring the Chadash offering. This recognition will in turn arouse a longing to attain the state that the Omer arouses within those Jews who find themselves in Eretz Yisrael — a recognition that the first of everything goes to G‑d.

This also helps us understand why Rashi first states the opinion that Chadash applies outside Eretz Yisrael as well. For the difference — in terms of man’s spiritual service — between these two opinions is the following:

The extension of the prohibition to the Diaspora affects the person’s body and animal soul,5 for the prohibition against eating a certain type of food primarily concerns the body and its vitalizing soul, but not the G‑dly soul. However, the opinion that the inability to offer the Omer will arouse a desire within the person to lift himself speaks of something felt by the G‑dly soul.

Therefore, at the outset of Rashi’ s commentary, i.e., at the beginning of man’s spiritual service, when the body and animal soul are at full strength, it is necessary to subdue these corporeal tendencies. Only afterward, when a person reaches the second stage of service — the second and subsequent comment in Rashi — can he bring about a change within his G‑dly soul as well.

Based on Likkutei Sichos , Vol. XVII, pp. 248-253.