Updated: Sep 19, 2019
This week we are requested to do more than simply offer a verbal expression of our appreciation but also to make a special effort, a journey – from us to Hashem – to show our gratitude for Him personally in His house – on this world.
This week’s Torah reading begins with the Mitzvah of Bikkurim, the first fruits which are brought as an offering to Jerusalem before Hashem. Now days when we are living far away from agricultural communities, it is hard for us to appreciate the sacrifice involved in this Mitzvah, but think for a moment of how much effort was involved there for a Jewish person back in the days.. to make all the way from wherever to Jerusalem.
Similarly to this, the Torah in this Mitzvah is teaching us make an extension of ourselves towards the divine and more than that. This portion teaches us hakaras hatov - the appreciation of the good G‑d bestows upon us. In this Mitsvah the farmer is requested to do more than simply offer a verbal expression of this appreciation but also to make a special journey, full of determination and effort to Jerusalem to show his gratitude personally in the house of G-d.
This Torah portion begins by saying: “When you come” to the land that G‑d is giving you as a heritage, occupying and settling it, you shall take of the first fruits….” The Lubavitche Rebbe says that we learn two things from this commandment: the first, after a man did all the crafts associated with the growth of the fruits of the land, he takes the chosen fruits not to himself but makes them holy and gives them to Cohen – to the priest. Second, when a person prepares himself to reach towards the proper degree and consecrates himself, by becoming a priest – a person that serve the divine - He is then able to utilize every aspect of his work for holiness. The Rebbe Says that by this we can understand, that it is necessary to work Hashem not only during prayer and through study of Torah, but also during eating, through our earthly activities and even when engaging with our business.
Eretz, the Hebrew word for “land” is related to the Hebrew word Ratzon - “will”. The nature of strong "will" compels us to get up and run toward that which we desire. The Kabbalah explain that Ratzon - will and desire, is the most powerful force within the human being. The will has the power to control the other faculties and unleash the dormant potential. Awakening the desire, the will, is in fact to awaken the heart and mind. Just like the farmer who tills the earth to plant, sow, irrigate, and reap fruit, a Jewish person must also seek to cultivate the “first fruit”. The most important thing we should cultivate in the work to the Divine is our Ratzon. And even in a more profound way, a Jewish person in this Mitsvah is taking the longing to Hashem and then in accordance makes an effort to personally come to him and deliver what he had acquired. Judaism demands and teaches us that we need to capture the desire, the urge to run - our will and direct it to Hashem.
“Judaism demands and teaches us that we need to capture the desire, the urge to run - our will and direct it to Hashem.”
The fruit as we know is something that extends the life of the tree. What we have made or came to have is there for our survival, a thing we should eat, but instead of using - eating it, it we give it back to G-d and do not use it.
"Take the first of all the fruit of the ground and then put them into a basket" - placing the fruit in the basket means applying our will, or the desire to transcend and investing it into our daily activities. Into a vassal that except the need to become empty, and be completely dependent on G-d’s will to grant us in return., and as the Torah continues, the purpose of placing the fruit in the basket is to “go to the place which Hashem will choose to have His Name dwell there.”
Where is that “place”?
Well, the answer is different for everyone, for G‑d places each of us in a unique place where it is our mission to “have His Name dwell there”. G-d grants us life, health, and well-being and in return, He desires that we observe His Torah and walk by His paths. To “walk in His paths” implies that performing the Mitzvoth or other Mitsvoth, meaning G-d’s commandments, transforms the performer into an individual in motion, leaving his previous station and marching on to a higher spiritual rank.
Realizing that we are going in “His paths” is to realize our desire to emulate G‑d to the greatest extent possible. Chassidus explains the verse “I shall cause you to be ‘walkers’ among those who are ‘stationary’,” as referring to the spiritual state of souls who perform Torah and mitzvos in this world, compared to the angels above. Although angels above are constantly rising from level to level, they are considered “stationary,” for all their degrees of refinement and elevation are of the same magnitude. An angel as we know has a task - Sages say that there is no grass on the ground below that does not have an angel above that keep it and beats it and tells it to grow. While the soul within our body, is making a spiritual effort by walking in accordance to commandments of the divine we become physical objects in motion. For performing Mitzvoth enables us to rise in such a way that each new level is infinitely loftier than the previous one. As the Zohar says, everything each of us do, every little thing we do - it all depends on a superior power above.
So "You have no grass or weed, without a supreme force in charged of it from above" means, that there is no will nor thought or any kind of emotion or a feeling that comes to man, or woman for that matter, which will not follow the laws above and that will not be given to us from above. This is what we are going to face this week as we are coming to the promised land. The land of Israel signifies the wills or the desire of G-d.
It may be a desire we don’t fully understand, a divine intervention in our being, we suddenly face reality as something that is been given to us, a gesture in form of a beautiful filed, a magnificent orchard, a remarkable tree. And we look at all this, observe it and suddenly very much aware of the grate magnitude of gratefulness we need to have towards G-d. Nothing is ours on the outside and also not what is on the inside.
The field is that prism of reality we live in. The tree is our ability to live by the attribute that directs us and gives us life. Our divine source of living, our roots - The tree of life. Human attributes according to Kabbalah are divided to seven (There are actually ten in the tree of life but the seven reffers to those which are considered as Midot - attributes - a person has). So we are rooted and included in the seventh attributes of the Tree of life. We have the attribute of CHESED which is Infinite influence. We have the attribute of GEVURH which is to reduce influence and hold back. The attribute of mercy that is between those two, to pity those who needs our pity. This attribute is also called TIFERET because of a garment that being painted in lots of shades. NETSACH and HOD the Kidney Consultants and MALCHUT – the executor of those when it comes to actions and behaviors. When we talk about The fruit, in case we have activated the seven attributes within the tree of life, the fruit would be the actual elements within our life that have the ability in reality to become some sort of an extension of our lives. Meaning, a fruit is something we can attribute to others, a fruit can come in the form of some recognition that will force us to handle situations differently than before, a new insight or fresh and updated observation of things.
So the fruits would be our insights, our thoughts, our behaviors, or even our desires and our feelings once we took under account their divine source. Even everything around us, all come from our ability to live in accordance with the Midot of the tree of life. Again, the first insight of any situation, whether in spirit, soul, or Neshama, whether it would be in regards to material things we possess, or feelings that we suddenly appreciative of. And we can take it even further – our observation in large – an observation that is like a fruit – sweet, tasty nurturing. To have Hacarat Hatov to all the people around us, the grate beauty of nature, the immense power of it, the changing of the weather... Everything – the filed the tree and the fruit Are all His.
We must open our eyes this week, but more importantly – open our hearts. To the love of G-d. To all His gifts bestowed upon you.
To find out more about this week's portion watch the Torah lesson.