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Expanding Circles - Ki Tavo

“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 specifically bring the first fruits of your toil, teaches a special affinity between the private field and the Beit Hamikdash. The expectation of us to attach, even to physically bring, our unique and special fruits to that chosen and sanctified place teaches us that there is an essential connection which seems to expand and to improve the circles of man’s life.

In the third chapter of Masechet Bikurim, the Mishnah describes the procedure of bringing Bikurim. After describing the owner’s 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 Ma’amad city. They would not go into houses. The designated one would say “get up and we shall ascend to Zion to the house of Hashem, our G-d.”

Those closest would bring the dates and grapes, while those who were further away, would bring גרוגרות and raisins. The bull would walk in front, with its horns coated in gold, and an olive crown. The flute would be played, leading them all the way to Yerushalayim.

In the essay “Bikurim” (מאמרי הראי"ה , 182), Rav Kook clarifies that bringing of Bikurim refers to bringing from a private house to the Beit Hamikdash, passing through the towns spread around Israel, to connect the different communities in a special way. For the other nations of the world, the connection between communities is typically through business. This type of connection stands primarily on common material interests. In contrast, the purpose of congregating in the cities when bringing Bikurim is a symbol that the connection between our communities is more than just materialistic. Sleeping outside, and the call for everyone to ascend to the house of Hashem, emphasizes our common aim for the holy. The people of the towns and the city arise and march forward together. They do not simply remain at the border of the city with the local trade. The townsfolk remain outside the homes of the city dwellers, to draw them out of their personal existence, to join in the shared national longing, and together they work towards a common goal.

If so, the Bikurim journey teaches us that we may elevate our connections with each other, from a narrow existence to one of meaning and idealism. When a person brings their Bikurim, he’s not only bringing his personal profit and personal happiness. He sees himself as part of the physical and spiritual development of the land, its people and towns. Thus, man builds, in his way, a new level of life. A level of deep connection, rooted in the nation from which he came, so that when he returns home to his small part of G-dliness, a feeling of closeness and connection to the nation will be engraved in his mind.

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