In parshas Kiddoshim we learn that for the first three years, a fruit may not be eaten at all. Then in the fourth year, it may be taken to Yerushalayim to be eaten. Then finally in the fifth year, it may be eaten in all places

Even though this is a chok, commandment whose reason isn't seemingly apparent, but are there any commentaries that explain the spiritual, deeper significance as to what about the first three years makes them forbidden, and what about the fourth year allows them to be eaten in Yerushalayim, and what about the fifth year allows them to be eaten in all places?

1 Answer 1


Rambam discusses this in Guide for the Perplexed 3:37 and 3:39.

Idolaters have acted similarly in reference to property. They made it a law that a certain tree, the asherah, should be worshipped, and that of its fruit one part should be offered, and the rest consumed in the temple of the idol: this is stated in the regulations concerning the asherah. In the same manner, they made it a rule, that the first-fruit of every fruit-tree should be partly offered as a sacrifice and partly consumed in the idol's temple. It was also a widespread belief that if the first-fruit of any tree was not treated in this manner, the tree would dry up, its fruit would be cast off, its increase would be diminished, or some disease would come over it; just as they spread the belief that every child, that was not passed through the fire, must die. People in their anxiety for their property obeyed also this precept unhesitatingly. The Law, in opposition to this doctrine, commanded us to burn the produce of fruit-trees the first three years; for some trees bear fruit after one year, whilst some begin to yield fruit after two, and others after three years. The law is based upon the nature of trees grown in an ordinary way, namely, in one of the three well-known methods: planting, propagation, and inoculation (neti‘ah, habrakah, and harcabah). The Law does not take notice of the case that a kernel or stone is sown; for the ordinances of the Law are based on the usual condition of things, and as a rule a young tree in Palestine bears fruit for the first time not later than the third year after it has been planted. According to the divine promise, the waste and destruction of this first-fruit of the tree will be followed by years of plenty of fruit; for it is said, "that it may increase unto you the fruit thereof" (Lev. xix. 25). The fruit of the fourth year we are commanded to eat before God, instead of [the heathen custom of] eating ‘orlab, "the fruit of the preceding years," in the temples of the idols, as has been described by us.

(Friedlander translation)

The law concerning the fruit of a tree in its fourth year has some relation to idolatrous customs, as has been stated by us (chap. xxxvii.), and is connected with the law concerning the fruit of a tree in its first three years. But it has in addition the same object as the law concerning the heave-offering (Deut. xviii. 4), the dough-offering (ḥallah) (Num. xv. 20), the first-fruit (Exod. xxiii. 19), and the first of the shearing (Deut. xviii. 4). For the first of everything is to be devoted to the Lord; and by doing so man accustoms himself to be liberal, and to limit his appetite for eating and his desire for property.

(Friedlander translation)

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