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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 26, v. 2: "V'lokachto meireishis kol pri" - And you shall take from the first of all fruit - The mitzvoh of bringing "bikurim" is one of GIVING, not TAKING. Yet, the Torah says to TAKE. Rabbi Yaakov Molcho writes that the gemara Kidushin 5 says that although halacha requires that the man give the woman an item of value to marry her, if he is of great stature and his receiving a gift from another is a great honour for the giver, the pleasure derived by the giver is of value, and is considered an object of value that the man gave the woman.

Similarly here, although one gives Hashem of his first ripened fruits, it is as if he is TAKING. Verse 10 likewise sings this theme. "V'atoh hi'nei heiveisi es reishis pri ho'adomoh asher nosatoh li Hashem." The word "nosatoh" does not only refer to the land but also to the fruit. Although it is brought to Hashem, we should feel that Hashem's accepting it is a present to us. (Nachal K'dumim)

Ch. 26, v. 3: "Uvosso el haKohein" - And you shall come to the Kohein - Targum Yonoson ben Uziel and Targum Yerushalmi say a most puzzling thing. "HaKohein" means the Kohein Godol, "v'sei'alun l'vas Kahana di yehevei m'ma'nei l'Cha'hein RAV." Pirush Yonoson calmly explains that this is derived from the definitive HA-Kohein. The Talmud and halacha clearly state that "bikurim" is given to the family of Kohanim that is serving at the time "bikurim" are brought to the Beis Hamikdosh, not to the Kohein Godol.

The Ibn Ezra brings the Kohein Godol into the picture, but in a different vein. He says that bringing "bikurim" is only required when there is a Kohein Godol. He derives this from "asher y'h'yeh ba'yomim ho'heim." The Sifri on these words says "k'mo shehu," a Kohein "as is." See Rashi, Ramban, and Sforno for their insights into the Sifri.

Ch. 26, v. 7: "Va'yar es onyeinu v'es amo'leinu v'es lachatzeinu" - And He saw our pain and our toil and our oppression - The Ibn Ezra gives these general terms of discomfort specific association. Pain refers to lack of wealth. Toil refers to construction work. Oppression refers to being rushed to complete their assignments.

Ch. 26, v. 13: "V'omarto lifnei Hashem" - And you shall say in front of Hashem - Rashbam explains why a verbal declaration is required. Someone might want to retain "maa'seir" tithes for himself and not give them to the poor or the Levites. Having to make a verbal declaration to Hashem at the Beis Hamikdosh to the contrary, an outright lie, is beyond the audacity of almost everyone. This way we are assured that people will give their tithes to the intended recipients.

Ch. 26, v. 13: "Biarti hakodesh min habayis" - I have cleansed the holy items from the house - These verses are called "VIDUY maa'seir," confession of the tithing. Since the person is stating that he has done everything correctly, how is this a confession? The Sforno answers that by stating that we have emptied our home of "maa'seir" and given it to the proper recipient, we are confessing that we have sinned numerous generations back and have lost the possibility of having the firstborn of our families being the clergy of the nation, and thus not having to empty our homes of the "maa'seir."

Ch. 26, v. 15: "Kaasher nishbato laavoseinu eretz zovas cholov udvosh" - As You have sworn to our patriarchs a land that flows of milk and honey - The declaration when bringing "bikurim," items of the first ripened produce, has a very similar phrase, "el ho'oretz asher nishba Hashem laavoseinu lo'ses lonu" (verse 3). In both cases we state that we are thankful for receiving produce from the land that Hashem has promised "LAAVOSEINU" to give to us.

There is a seeming contradiction in the Rambam regarding "laavoseinu." In hilchos bikurim 4:3 he rules that a convert to Judaism who has land in Eretz Yisroel brings "bikurim" and also makes the same declaration as does a ben Yisroel who is a descendant of a Yisroel from the time of the acceptance of the Torah, including the LAAVOSEINU section. Even though there was no such promise to this convert's ancestors, nevertheless this promise was given to Avrohom in parshas Lech L'cho, and Avrohom is the Patriarch of all future Jews, even converts, "av hamone goyim." The Rambam elaborates on this in a letter to a convert who was taunted for his gentile origins. The Rambam writes in a most harsh manner, criticizing anyone who belittles a convert, and ends by saying that a proper convert has Avrohom as his Patriarch, just as any ben Yisroel does. However, in hilchos maa'seir sheini v'neta r'va'i 11:17 he writes that a convert should NOT say the verbal confession because the words "v'eis ho'adomoh asher nosatoh lonu" do not apply to him. No doubt he brings his proof not from these words alone, but also means ETC., "kaasher nishbato laavoseinu eretz zovas cholov udvosh." His patriarchs were never promised that their descendants would receive "eretz zovas .." Rabbi Boruch Frankel, Rov of Leipnik, answers this seemingly impenetrable contradiction. The Ramban on our verse says that the patriarchs referred to in our verse are not Avrohom, Yitzchok, or Yaakov. Rather it is referring to those who left Egypt. If this is also the understanding of the Rambam the problem is readily unraveled. A convert cannot say that his patriarchs who were part of the Egyptian exodus were promised that this land would be given to their descendants.

The Kapose T'morim in his commentary on the gemara Sukoh 38a d.h. "V'agav" answers that by "bikurim" we find the term "lo'ses," to give. This does not indicate that the land WAS ALREADY GIVEN to the bearer of the "bikurim." It can also mean to give in the future. "L'osid lovo" a convert who was earnest (to the exclusion of the converts who joined us in our exodus from Egypt) will be given a portion in Eretz Yisroel. By "maa'seir" the verse says "asher nosatoh lonu," indicating that the land has ALREADY BEEN GIVEN. A convert was not given this land as an inheritance. (This answer negates the "No doubt he brings his proof .. that was suggested earlier.) Mahar"i Korkos hilchos maa'seir sheini v'neta r'va'i 11:17 answers that by "maa'seir" the verse says that the ownership of the land is based on the vow to our Patriarchs, "kaasher nishbato laavoseinu." This promise was not given to converts. By "bikurim" the verse says "asher nosatoh li" and va'yi'tein lonu." These words do not mean specifically by virtue of a promise. Rather they are only stating that the person recognizes that his ownership, be it by inheritance or through his purchase, comes as a blessing from Hashem. A convert has purchased the land, satisfying the "asher nosatoh li" phrase, and is also included in the term "laavoseinu," so he says the "bikurim" declaration. More on this Rambam - Oruch L'neir on the gemara Makos 19a d.h. "Keivon," Mahar"i Korkos hilchos bikurim 4:3, Shaar Efrayim #14

Ch. 27, v. 6: "Avonim shleimos tivneh es mizbach Hashem" - Complete stones shall you build the altar of Hashem - The Holy Zohar (Tikunim #139) relates that the Rashb"i told his son Rabbi Elozor that those who read from the Torah should enunciate the words and not swallow them. Swallowing the words is like Eisov's saying "haliteini" (Breishis 25:10). Hashem angers when people swallow the words of the Torah, as is written "v'af Hashem choroh vo'om" (Bmidbar 11:33). Similarly our verse alludes to clearly annunciating the words of the "amidoh." The three daily prayers have a total of 57 blessings, and the word "mizbei'ach" also has the same numerical value. Our prayers are in the place of sacrifices, hence the altar alludes to our prayers. Say the words clearly, "avonim shleimos tivneh es mizbach Hashem." Eliyohu Hanovi told a most pious student that "Korove Hashem l'chol korov l'chol asher yik'ro'uhu ve'EMeS" (T'hilim 145:18), Alef-Mem-Sof, alludes to Osios, Milim, and T'nuos. Only when they are said accurately does the next verse, "R'tzone y'rei'ov yaa'seh" come to fruition. (Yalkut Mei'am Lo'eiz)

Ch. 27, v. 7: "V'ochalto shom v'somachto" - And you shall eat there and you shall rejoice - This is most puzzling. Why does the verse tell us to rejoice at the site of Mount Eivol, the mountain reserved for the admonitions? Why not by Mount Grizim, where the blessings would be uttered? This teaches us a most powerful lesson. One should realize that when he is visited by difficulties it should not be viewed as a negative situation. Difficulties offer numerous positive affects, to cleanse, to refine, and to bring to humbleness. Similarly, this is a lesson in bringing up our children. A "sugar daddy" who spoils his children, offering them all life's conveniences and not giving them responsibilities, is preparing them for a most disappointing life. (Rabbi Moshe Feinstein in Kol Rom)

Ch. 27, v. 9: "Haskeis" - Listen - This is the translation according to Targum Onkelos and Rashi. The Sforno says that it means to form a picture in your mind. Perhaps we can follow this line of thought and have a new insight into the word "sukoh." It is a mitzvoh that reminds us of the Clouds of Glory that accompanied the bnei Yisroel in the desert, another "picture in your mind." (Nirreh li)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

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