Rabbi Yedidya Noiman
Rosh Kollel Montreal
“And now I brought the first fruits of the land which you Hashem gave me.”
In the Parsha we see one of the summits of happiness and prosperity to which a Jew can reach. The Torah describes to us the remarkable event of bringing Bikurim and the special requirement of reading Parshat Habikurim. The requirement of Bikurim to bring specifically the first fruits of your toil, teaches a special affinity between the private field and Beis Hamikdash. The expectation of us to connect, and even to physically bring, our unique and special fruits to that chosen and sanctified place teaches us that there is an essential connection which can expand and enrich the circles of our life.
In the third chapter of Masechet Bikurim the Mishnah describes the procedure of bringing Bikurim. After describing the owners’ descent to his field and reaping the Bikurim from the field, the Mishnah describes the gathering of the procession. –
“How do we bring the Bikurim?”
All the towns involved converge in the city and sleep in the streets of the Maamad city. They wouldn’t go into houses. The designated one would say “get up and we shall ascend to Zion to the house of Hashem our G-d”.
The close ones bring The dates and grapes, while the far ones brought dried figs and raisins; and the bull walks in front with its horns coated in gold and an olive crown. The flute beats in front of them until they reach Yerushalayim.
In the essay “Bikurim” (מאמרי הראי”ה, 182) Rav Kook clarifies that the process of bringing Bikurim from the privacy of our house to Beis Hamikdash must pass through the towns spread around Israel, to connect the different communities in a special way. By the nations of the world, the connection between communities is economic, and manifests primarily through trade. This type of connection is based on common material interests. In contrast, the purpose of congregating in the cities when bringing Bikurim is to symbolize that the connection between our communities is not only materialistic. Sleeping outside and calling for everyone to go up to the house of Hashem emphasizes our common goal to strive towards Hashem. The people of the towns and the city arouse and march forward together; they do not remain limited to the border of their city and it’s local trade. The farmers remain outside the homes of the city dwellers, to draw them out of their personal existence to the shared, communal longing towards a common, spiritual goal.
If so, the Bikurim march teaches us that we may elevate the connection between us from the narrow, materialistic dimension to the plane of meaning and idealism. When a person brings his Bikurim, he’s not only bringing his personal gain bounty to the Mikdash. He sees himself as part of the physical and spiritual development of the land, its people and towns. Thus we add a new level to our life, a level of deep connection to his nation, so that when he returns home to his local homestead, a feeling of closeness and connection to the nation will remain engraved on his mind.
Bringing bikurim comes also to change a flawed concept of ours of Gods attitude towards us. Man may think that his personal record of hard work and success are no concern of Hashem. It seems to us that our personal story doesn’t matter to him and we are too small and young to pay attention to.
Against this comes the commandment to bring our personal fruits. Fruits that have our individual and personal story engraved on them. Occasionally stories of success coming too easily, sometimes we fail even though we put a lot of effort into it and sometimes success comes after a lot of work and difficulties. Those that teach man that here, our actions always matter to Hashem. The special personal fruits of our labor are relevant and needed for the work of Hashem so much, that he comes in all his glory to the stage, The Beis Hamikdash.
The third circle that this commandment renews in us is the the circle of our happiness in our work and in ourselves.
The ability to stand in front of the entire world in the Beis Hamikdash and to announce out loud “here I have brought my first fruits” depends on the mans ability to rejoice and accept who he is. To be happy in everything that he went through with self confidence and belief in whats special about him.
The gemara in Masechet Berachot (8A) teaches that “Greater is he who enjoys the fruit of his labour than the fearer of Heaven”. Harav Kook explains in his book Ein Ayah that this renewal comes first of all from what his hand made, ‘this is the perfection that affected the Divine Providence to give him the strength to do great things. So that it will be good..’. Meaning, man must accept the story of his life and take it simply because that’s how it happened. The Divine direction that leads reality and directs it, says that this is how and therefore anyway for us there is left only to rejoice and act in it.
This statement is likely to create a weakness of cancelling the sayings like “I accept my situation because I have no choice”. Against this, Rav Kook Ztzl explains that this statement clarifies the position of man. The enjoyment of toiling is the total opposite of laziness. This enjoyment comes from happiness and great faith in his strengths and his ability to develop and improve. Man is happy for the place that he is responsible for, he will run forward with all he can to the job set before him. “But the advantage of enjoying the toil of your hands, of the real perfection that he completes himself that is the real good that he is good by agreeing to the superiority of the divine wisdom”
Thus we see that the Mitzva of bringing bikurim improves and expands us vs ourselves, vs Hashem and vs Am Yisrael, so that we can really succeed in being happy with what we do.