Chavruta of the Week: Marcus Rehany and Mordechai Hadad
Marcus and I take advantage of the time we put away our Tefilin to learn every morning after Shacharit. We learn the Halachot most relevant to the time. For example, we are now learning about Rosh Hashana Davening. We also try not to get in the way of Jojo and Rani who are busy preparing the tables and chairs for Rav Singer’s class.
In the beginning of this parsha we have the mitzvah of bikkurim. This mitzvah teaches us the importance of recognizing actions done for us. This is true more so in bikkurim than other mitzvot of the land. When somebody brings bikkurim he must tell Hashem that he brought his first fruits as he was commanded. Rashi explains the purpose of this announcement is to show that he doesn’t take what he received for granted.
It is not clear why the mitzvah of bikkurim began only when bnei Israel entered the Holy Land and even then they couldn’t fulfill this mitzvah until they grew their own vegetables (they couldn’t bring the vegetables that they found in the fields). One explanation would be that the mitzvah of bikkurim is to avoid feeling to proud. It forces us to remember that it's not our power that produced the merchandise, rather it’s only with Hashems help that we manage anything.
There is a somewhat more sophisticated explanation as well. The gemara in the Yerushami Talmud, in the first Perek of Orlah discusses grafted trees and asks how we know that a branch grafted onto a tree begins to sustain itself. Rabbi Bibi said in the name of Rabbi Chanina, that if the leaves are pointed towards itself it is still drawing from the old tree. If the leaves are facing the old tree than it’s sustaining itself. Rabbi Yudan bar Chanin explains that something or someone who is sustained by another, has trouble looking at him. Following this idea we can explain Bikkurim. We can only look to Hashem and appreciate his gifts properly with a quiet mind, when we also worked for what we receive.