<I>Ki-Tavo</I>: Truly Thankful

Why were the Jewish people not required to give thanks for the land and its fruit during their first fourteen years in the land?

Aloh Naaleh,

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Arutz 7
In his commentary on the first verse of our parasha, Rashi quotes the Gemara in Kiddushin (37b). which states that the mitzvah of bikkurim became obligatory only after the Jewish people conquered all of the land of Canaan and divided it among the twelve tribes of Israel.

It is well known that the conquest took fourteen years to complete. The question that presents itself is why the mitzvah of bikkurim did not go into effect after each section of Eretz Israel was conquered, and as soon as each part was cultivated and bore fruit. After all, the mitzvah of bikkurim is primarily a demonstration of hakarat hatov, appreciation and thanks, to God for having granted us the privilege of living in Eretz Israel and enjoying its fruits. Why, then, was it necessary to wait until all of Eretz Israel was conquered and apportioned?

The Gemara in Pesachim (36b) emphasizes that the mitzvah of bikkurim is fulfilled between Shavuot and Sukkot, because that is the time of the gathering of the fruit, when the joy is greatest. Why, then, were the Jewish people not required to give thanks for the land and its fruit during their first fourteen years in the land?

The Torah seems to be teaching us that our personal happiness cannot be complete until all of Eretz Israel is conquered and settled. While mitzvot pertaining to the land of Israel must be fulfilled on every inch of the holy land, the mitzvah of bikkurim - thankfulness and appreciation to God for having given us the fruit of the land - cannot be fulfilled until all of the land is ours and until all Jews dwell therein. To be complete, our personal happiness must be coupled with the happiness of Klal Israel.

While the conquest of all of Eretz Israel may appear to be something in the distant future, Jews settling in the land that is already in our possession can be achieved right now.

We hope and pray that all Jews will settle in the land, and that God will grant us the privilege of possessing all of Eretz Israel in our own time.
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Rabbi Binyamin Walfish of Jerusalem was the executive Vice-President of the Rabbinical Council of America before making Aliyah in 1994. Presently, he is the President of Otzar Haposkim - the Institute for the Publication of Halachic Responsa, and Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Yeshivas of the Rabbinical Council of America in Israel.

The foregoing commentary was distributed by the Aloh Naaleh organization.



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