Ki tavo

"You shall rejoice with all the goodness that the Lord, your God has given you and your household" Deuteronomy 26:11


This week's parashah starts with a mitzvah to rejoice when one brings one's bikkurim (first fruits) to Jerusalem.

However, we must ask why is there a specific command for the farmer to rejoice when bringing his first fruits?

Rabbi Mordechai Gifter (1915-2001) explains that the farmer might be blessed with a bumper crop. And yet, as he heads to the Temple with his bikkurim, he will encounter others heading there with even greater bounty. At that moment, his joy and happiness disappear as he is left to feel quite inadequate compared to his fellow. Therefore, as part of the mitzvah of bikkurim, the Torah commands that we should be appreciative and happy with what we have and not to judge ourselves by what we don't have.

A similar message is learned later in the parashah, where it says in 28:2, "And these blessings will come upon you and they will reach you." Virtually all of the commentaries are bothered by the expression "they will reach you". Would it not have been sufficient to say, "All these blessings will come upon you?" What does "they will reach you" add to the verse?

It's not enough to be blessed. The ultimate blessing is to realise that one has been blessed and to be satisfied.

Sometimes God can shower us with all types of goods and riches - health, family, and wealth - but if a person does not realise it, if he is never happy, if there always needs to be more, then this blessing is meaningless.

As we approach Rosh Hashanah, now is a good time to take stock and turn to God and thank Him for all we have, and ask Him to bless us all for a sweet, prosperous and peaceful New Year.

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