Shabbat Parashat Ki Tavo| 5763
Thanks for All of UsHarav Moshe Ehrenreich
Our parasha opens with the mitzva of bikurim (first fruit) and determines that the obligation to bring them to Hashem begins “when you come to the Land… and conquer and settle it” (Devarim 26:1). Rashi explains that this comes to teach us that the mitzva of bikurim did not begin until the land was conquered and divided among the tribes. We should devote some thought to the possible alternatives for the beginning of the mitzva, had the Torah not specified conquest and settlement.
The Ibn Ezra and Seforno point out that this section follows the command to fight Amalek, which was to take place after Hashem relieved us of our surrounding enemies. This condition was met only around 400 years later at the time of King Saul. Therefore, the Torah had to stress that other mitzvot, several of which are found in our parasha, preceded this time.
Rashi, however, seems to imply that the time was delayed, not hastened, and it is thus worthwhile to look for an earlier theoretical beginning point for the mitzva of bikurim. The actual settlement of Bnei Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael did not occur at one time at the “time of division,” but occurred gradually as conditions allowed for it in a given region of the country. It would, therefore, make sense that the mitzva of bikurim would begin in a given area when that area was properly settled. After all, bikurim is a mitzva of thanksgiving by the individual for the gift of the land and its fruit which he received. Rashi (pasuk 3) stresses that through bikurim, one demonstrates that he is not ungrateful and that a person fulfills the mitzvah between Shavuot and Sukkot when the joy is the greatest (Pesachim 36b), as he gathers his produce. It stands to reason that those who were fortunate enough to settle earlier should have given their thanks promptly. That is why Rashi has to stress that this form of thanksgiving was delayed until the end of the historical period of dividing the land for the nation as a whole.
What is the lesson to be learned from delaying the thanks? Why not be thankful as early as one can? The Torah is teaching us that even one’s personal happiness cannot be complete when the whole of the nation (as our nation forms one entity) has not yet merited to settle the land. Similarly in our days, we must engrain in our consciousness the realization that only when the entrance, conquest, and inhabitation of the Land will be accomplished by the entire Jewish nation, will our happiness be complete.
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