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Kedoshim: Kli Yakar: Orlah

The 7th of Iyar is the Yahrtzeit Rav Shlomo Ephraim of Luntchitz, author of Kli Yakar and Ololos Ephraim (1550-1619). Rav Shlomo Ephraim was born in Lunchitz in Poland. He was a disciple of Rav Shlomo

Luria (Maharshal), the famous talmudist and author of Yam Shel Shlomo. After leading the yeshiva in Lvov, Rav Shlomo Ephraim was appointed Rav of Prague. He sat on the Beis Din of that city with Rav Yeshayah Horowitz(the “Shelah Ha’kadosh”). Among Rav Shlomo Ephraim’s prominent students was Rav Yom Tov Lipman Heller, author of theMishnah commentary Tosfos Yom Tov. The Kli Yakar died in Prague, Bohemia. the introduction of his Kli Yakar he relates that the name Shlomo was added to his name during life-threatening illness. In addition to Kli Yakar, Rav Shlomo Ephraim also wrote special selichos to be said in memory of the Jews of Prague who suffered horribly during the pogroms of 1611.

The Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim says on of the reasons why we have the issur of Orla which assurs us from eating the fruit of tree that grow during its first four years after planting is because the Emoriim used all sorts of Kishuf with the fruits during the first three years of a tree to make it grow faster.  Therefore the Torah forbids the fruits of the first three years.

The Kli Yakar says the reason is Zecher L’Maaseh Bireishis.  He says that everything was created on the first day of creation but only came out on the day that the Torah says it was created.  Fruits, the Torah tells us were created on the third day.  Even so they were not visible until the fourth day when the sun and moon were hung in the sky and ripened the fruit.  Fruits are assur for three years as a Zecher for the three days that they were covered in the ground and not visible in the creation.  Orla means to be covered.  

On the fourth day they were clearly visible but by who?  There were no animal or people to eat them.  Their entire existence was solely to sing Hashem’s praise.  This is why the fourth year of produce is Kodesh Hilulim Lashem, it sings the praise of Hashem and must be eaten only in Yerushalayim.

By the fifth day the animals were created and enjoyed the fruits.  Therefore during the fifth year the fruits are permitted to us without any restrictions of Orla.  However says the Kli Yakar, unlike he fourth year where it says (Kedoshim 19:24), “Kol Piryo” all the fruits, in the fifth year it says “Tochlu Es Piryo” without the word “Kol”, to remind us that we still need to share it with those who are less fortunate.  And just to assure us that after this long wait we will not be hurt financially by spreading the wealth, the pasuk ends, Ani Hashem Elokeichem and I will repay you!

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