Bringing Bikurim

Rabbi Yaacov Haber

Parshas Ki Savo

Even though it’s before Rosh Hashanah, even though I walk the streets of Jerusalem, it’s difficult, almost selfish, to think about how to grow spiritually when the body of Klal Yisroel is under siege.

Yet with great pride I can say that men and women on the streets of Jerusalem are not depressed. Life goes on at an amazing pace. The number 2 bus is full and the stores are lined with American and French teenagers full of laughter and pride. We are a great people!

Yesterday a non-Jewish man came over to me at the bank. “It must bother you so much,” he said, “that the whole world condemns you.” I thought for a moment and said to him, “We are condemned by Kadafi, by Sadaam Hussein and by Fidel Castro. It is an honor to be different than them!” We are different than them. Boruch Hashem. We are not racists. We do not have slaves. If we see ourselves as different, if we have a strong sense of history, if we see Eretz Yisroel as a gift from Hashem and as a spiritual treasure - we will have the privilege of living in peace.

“Ki Savo - when you arrive in the Land”. We have arrived! God gave us a gift called Israel. He gave it to us once and because of our behavior He took it back. He gave it to us a second time and because of our mishigass He took it away. Now, He’s giving it to us for a third time! Once again – We have arrived!

What should we be saying to God when we arrive? We hold up our first fruit and we declare:

“I have arrived in the Land which God swore to our forefathers to give to us. Our fathers moved to Egypt, few in number, and there we became a Nation – great, strong and numerous. The Egyptians mistreated us and afflicted us, and made us slaves. We cried to God and He saw our oppression. God took us out of Egypt with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm, with awesomeness, with signs and with wonders. He brought us here, to this place, He gave us this Land, a Land flowing with milk and honey and here are the first fruit of that ground that You have given me.”

Simply put; ‘This Land is a gift from You. This gift is part of a historical process. We acknowledge, G-d, that this is Your Land. We acknowledge that it is a great spiritual treasure. We thank You – God for bringing us here.’

Rashi teaches us that from the moment God created the world- B’reishis – He was waiting for this moment of ‘Raishis Bikurim’ bringing our first fruit before God. No other sacrifice or tithe comes with such an elaborate proclamation and ceremony. But, God waited 2500 years for a simple Jew from Petach Tikvah or Kfar Saba to come to Jerusalem with a basket full of grapes in his hand to make the statement “I have arrived! I understand what I am doing here! I understand how I got here!”

Raishis b’shvil Raishis. G-d created the world just so we can come to Israel.

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