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Parshat Ki Tavo

By: Herschel Karp (10th Grade)

In this week's Parsha, we learn about the laws of Bikkurim. A question arises when discussing the Mitzvah of bringing the Bikkurim (first fruit) and declaring the declaration of thanksgiving: Why do we only mention Hashem’s kindness in delivering us from Lavan and Pharaoh, and not the other miracles He performed for our ancestors, for example, the deliverance of Yaakov and his family from the hands of Eisav?

The basic explanation is that the obligation of bringing the first fruit applies only after the fourteen years during which the land of Israel was conquered and settled. This implies that when we bring the first fruit, we give thanks to Hashem not just for the fruit that He grants us, but also that the constant blessings that He gives us. Therefore, we specifically mention the salvation from Lavan and from Egypt because our ancestors were in those places in a permanent manner, yet they did not experience goodness there. In contrast, Hashem delivered Yaakov from Esav when Yaakov was traveling on the road. Therefore, we thank Hashem for delivering us from the negative state of permanence and bringing us to a blessed

state of permanence.

There is a deeper explanation too. Chassidus explains that bringing Bikkurim represents the service of elevating from below to above, whereas making the declaration of thanksgiving when bringing the Bikkurim represents drawing down. We therefore mention Charan (where Yaakov was saved from Lavan) and Egypt, because both represent kindness and drawing down of the light: “And Yakov went out {from Be’er Sheva},” to Charan and we mention Yaakov descending to Egypt, as well as Yaakov dispatching Yehudah before him, representing Jacob being drawn down to Charan and Egypt.

`There is a great lesson to be learned from this. A person should not be satisfied with his own spiritual ascent; rather, he must draw Hashem and His holiness down to this world, in order to fulfill the purpose of creation -- to create a dwelling place for Hashem in this world. This means that we cannot just do spiritual things like davening, and completely shun the physicality of our world.  Rather we have to embrace it and try to elevate it by using it to serve Hashem, which brings Him down into this world too.

Shabbat Shalom!

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