This week’s parsha opens with the beautiful words describing the bikkurim, the first fruits that were brought to the Cohanim in the Temple. The phrase used is
ולקחת מראשית כל-פרי האדמה… דברים כו:ב
“… you shall take of the first of every fruit of the ground… (26:2)
Upon settling the Holy Land, Bnei Israel were instructed to offer to Hashem the first ripened fruits that emerged in the land.
Speaking of firsts, the first verse in the Torah begins
בראשית ברא א-לוהים את השמים ואת הארץ,
In the beginning of Hashem’s creating of heaven and earth…
Interestingly, one way in which the Midrash’s rereads the opening phrase is
בשביל ראשית ברא ה’ את ,
“for the sake of the ‘first’ did Hashem create the Heavens and the Earth”…
One of the ‘first’ that is mentioned in the Midrash are our first fruits, the bikkurim. According to the translation of R’ Y. Ciner (Israel), this midrash could be read, “in the merit of reishit (the first fruits) was the world created.”
What exactly does this all mean? Why do the rabbis of the Midrash give the bikkurim such a lofty approbation?
In order to deal with this question, we must first explore the theological significance of the bikkurim. Simply put, Bikkurim represent our connecting of heaven and earth.
One could say that produce in general symbolizes the success we achieve through our intense toil in this world. To cultivate the earth, to work the land, to give our blood sweat and tears is an awesome investement.
When we finally have something to show for all that effort, the sense of achievement would no doubt be great.
But rather than let us bask in the glow of our own accomplishments – and even before we even enjoy these fruits – the Torah expects us to give a bit more. First, we need to bring Hashem into the equation.
True, our effort is significant, and a fundamental prerequisite for success. But that is not the full picture.
The bringing of Bikkurim to Hashem is essentially the recognition that it is through Hashem’s good graces that we live in a world wherein the potential for any achievement exists!
The fact that through our efforts, we have the possibility of creating something real, in itself is something to be appreciative of.
And when we acknowledge these things – that Hashem has created the world with the potential to succeed, and further, has helped us in this specific instance – we are connecting heaven and earth.
Perhaps it is to emphasize how fundamental this notion of appreciation is, that the Midrash says ‘it is for this that the world was created…’
May this coming year bring each of us much success in all our endeavors, and may we always appreciate just how much of a gift that is.
Rabbi Shamir Caplan