Ki Tavo: First Fruits

A Farmer’s Sacrifice

“And it will be, when you come into the land which the Lord, your God, gives you for an inheritance, and you possess it and settle in it, that you shall take of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you will bring from your land, which the Lord, your God is giving you. And you shall put [them] into a basket and go to the place which the Lord, your God, will choose to have His Name dwell there.” – Deut. 26:1-2

Torah portion Ki Tavo begins with the mitzvah (commandment) of Bikkurim, first fruits. Moses instructs the Jews that when they settle in the Holy Land, every year at harvest time they must bring some of the first crop of fruit to the Kohen (priest) serving in the Temple in Jerusalem. It says in the Midrash that it was for Bikkurim that the world was created. 

What is so significant about this particular mitzvah that the entire world was created for it? The Slonimer Rebbe (1911-2000) explains that what God wants most is for us to dedicate ourselves to serving Him, and Bikkurim is the ultimate example of that. Imagine a farmer, working his field by the sweat of his brow all year. When the first fruit finally appears, his immediate impulse is to pluck a piece from the tree and enjoy a delicious bite. Instead, he makes the difficult journey to Jerusalem to dedicate his fruit to God. Overcoming one’s physical desires to express gratitude to our Creator is the ultimate act of self-sacrifice, and there is nothing more important to God than that.

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