24 Aug KI SAVO
“Ki v’haya ki tavo el ha’aretz… v’lakachta mreshit kol pri hadama… ubata el hacohen…”.
The parashah begins with the mitzvah of bikurim, to bring the first ripened fruit — of the seven species — to the cohanim in the Beis HaMikdash.TorahWellsprings- Ki Sa vo The Midrash teaches “Hashem created the world for the mitzvah bikurim” (Yalkut Shimoni 2). Chazal tell us about the joyous manner in which the bikurim was brought. The Mishnah states, “An ox [which would later be sacrificed] walked in the lead. Its horns were covered with gold and a wreath of olive-leaves on its head. A flute played … Important officials from Yerushalayim came out to greet them… People working in Yerushalayim would stand up to greet them…” (Bikurim chapter 2). The Alshich asks, “What’s the purpose of all this joy and excitement for some fruit, which costs less than a half-dinar? Our amazement increases when we consider the Midrash that states, ‘Hashem created the world for the mitzvah bikurim.’ What is unique about this mitzvah, that the entire world was created for it?” The answer is, bikurim reminds us that everything we have comes from Hashem. The fruit, the land, the wealth, the success, it’s all a gift from Hashem. The Alshich writes, “When a person is in the land that flows with milk and honey, he lives comfortably and fearlessly…his home is filled with wealth…he may begin to think that I earned this all on my own. Therefore, Hashem commanded us the mitzvah of bikurim…” We now understand why bikurim is the purpose of creation, and why it was brought with so much joy. Bikurim reminds us that everything we have is a gift from Hashem and this recognition is from the primary purposes of creation.
An added benefit: When you know that everything comes from Hashem, Hashem will allow you to retain it. However, when one thinks that everything he owns is by ‘the might of my hand’ Hashem will take it away from him. The Alshich writes, “When one thinks that his wealth is the result of his own intelligence and power, Hashem will take it away from him. But when one knows that everything he owns was given to him by Hashem, Hashem will allow him to keep it. This can be compared to a wealthy person who owns an orchard and he hired someone to work his land. When the worker sees that the figs and grapes have ripened, he puts them in a beautiful dish and brings them to the owner.
He says, ‘Look at the sweet fruit your field produced. It is all yours, because it grew in your orchard…’ When the owner sees the derech eretz of his worker, he will say, ‘You can keep all the rest.’ This explains the reason for the mitzvah of bikurim. We bring the first crops of wheat, barley, olives, and grapes to the Beis Hamikdosh, and we acknowledge that it isn’t our own. Everything we have, belongs to Hashem.… And then, Hashem will allow us to keep the rest.” The Midrash says, “When Moshe saw [with his ruach hakodesh] that the Beis HaMikdash will be destroyed and the mitzvah of bikurim will cease, he instituted prayers three times a day” (Tanchuma Ki Savo 1). What is the connection between tefillah and bikurim? How does tefillah take the place of bikurim? Bikurim reminds us that everything we enjoy comes from Hashem. Tefillah reminds us of this, too. If one needs health, he turns to Hashem; if he needs parnassah, he prays, and with tefillah, he remembers that Hashem is the source for all his needs. When Moshe saw that bikurim will cease one day, he instituted davening three times each day, so we can have a constant reminder that everything we have comes from Hashem.
To Praise Hashem
The Kav HaYashar (18) writes “Everyone experiences miracles. Especially in recent times, when there are so many hardships that are increasing daily. There are evil decrees, wars, hunger, captivity, strife, and many diseases. When Hashem shines His kindness on us, and saves us from all of these matters, we should continuously be thinking about Hashem’s kindness. Whoever is able to live in peace and security, and has parnassah, should praise Hashem. The Sefer Chareidim writes that thanking Hashem is an offshoot from the mitzvah [bikurim]…. The purpose of bikurim is to remind people to praise Hashem for His bounty and kindness.
They shouldn’t complain like unsatisfied people, who cry their entire life, and complain to others, as though they don’t have anything to eat – although Hashem sustains them with bread and food. They actually have everything good in their life…” Today, too, there are many hardships and misfortunes. They are too painful to list. Whoever is saved from these matters should be praising Hashem constantly. But people forget the good and they harp on the problems. The mitzvah of bikurim teaches us to focus on the good and to thank Hashem for what we have, instead of focusing on what we lack. The Toras Chaim (Bava Kama 16) teaches, “Hashem does chessed with every person, every day, and every moment. Only people do not recognize these miracles. They think everything is natural. They don’t recognize that every step [in life] and every breath is from Hashem. As it says, “M’hashem Mitzadei Gaver”, ‘From Hashem are the steps of man,’ (Tehillim 37) and it says, “Asher B’yado Nefesh Kol Chai”, ‘In Hashem’s hand is the soul of all life’ (Iyov 12). It would be proper for a person to be blessing and praising Hashem every moment, for every step of life, and for every breath he takes.
As Chazal say, ‘For every breath, praise Hashem.’ If a person thinks that it isn’t from Hashem, rather it is the force of nature, that is kefirah, chas veshalom (heresy). However, since it is impossible for a person to praise Hashem from the morning to nighttime for each step and for each breath — and especially since most people are running after the foolishness of this world, amassing money and the like…Therefore, the Anshei Kneses HaGedolah instituted saying Modim three times a day. This singular praise is for all the breaths, kindness, and miracles that Hashem does with us every moment. By saying Modim, one fulfills the obligation [to praise Hashem]. “Therefore, in Modim we say “Al Chayeinu Hamsorim B’yadecha” ‘For our lives, that are given over into your hands,’ and with these words, we are thanking Hashem for every breath. And we also say ‘for the miracles that You perform with us each day, and for Your wonders and kindness that occur every moment…’ We take a bow by this brachah in the manner that one bows his head to a friend when he thanks him…”. After Modim we say Sim Shalom, and pray for peace, because after one thanks Hashem it’s an eis ratzon, an ideal moment, for tefillah.