Parsha Ki Tavo
This week’s Torah portion “Ki Tavo” opens with the mitsvah of bikkurim (offering one’s first fruits to the Bet Hamikdash). This fundamental mitsvah expresses Man’s role in this World. The Torah tells us, "And it shall be when you come in unto the land Which Hashem your G-d gives you for an inheritance and you shall possess it, and dwell therein; that you shall take the first of all the fruit of the ground,. . . which Hashem your G-d gives you. . .and you shall go unto the place which Hashem your G-d shall choose, to cause His name to dwell there. . .” (Devarim 26:1-2).
First and foremost every Jew must know that any produce which the land yields (or any financial gain for that matter, etc.) is from the Almighty - "which Hashem your God gives you." It is Hashem who gives Man abundance, blessings and strength. Man’s role is to "Come unto the land", to accept the divine abundance, and bring bikkurim (first fruits) to Hashem.
The emphasis of the mitsvah of Bikkurim is that we utilize the physical world and create bikkurim - taking the "first of the fruit" and elevating them to a level of holiness (by using them for a mitsvah).
The greatness of this mitsvah is that we can transform and elevate even negativity into holiness. When a farmer brought his first fruits to the Bet Hamikdash (the Holy Temple) he would state “I have hearkened to the voice of Hashem my G-d, I have odne according to all that You have commanded me. Look forth (hashkifa) from Your holy abode from heaven, and bless Your people Israel, and the land which You have given us, as You have sworn unto our fathers. . .” (Devarim 26:14-15). The expression in the Torah “look forth (hashkifa in Hebrew) is usually used in the context of a curse. With this mitsvah, therefore, a Jew has the fortitude to turn even a curse into a blessing.
This month of Elul which is an acronym “I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me” (Song of Songs) is also reflected in the mitsvah of Bikkurim. “I am to my beloved” is reflected by the requirement to take action to "Come unto the land (I am to my beloved) which the Lord your God gives you (and my beloved is to me)."
When a Jew does an action, a mitsvah, he take physicality and elevates it toward spiritual gain. This is our preparation for Rosh Hashana and the role of Man in this World.