Parshas Ki Savo
Thanks for the Memories… Thanks for All that You Have Done for Me
“You shall take of the first of every fruit… You shall say before Hashem, “An Aramean tried to destroy my forefather… Hashem took us out of Egypt… And now I have brought the first fruit of the ground that You have given me…” (Devarim 26:1-12)
A farmer in the Land of Israel has numerous special mitzvos to do. One of them is the mitzvah of Bikurim. Each year, the first ripened fruits grown in Israel that appear from the seven, special species (that the Land of Israel is praised for – wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates) are brought to the Holy Temple and presented to the kohen. The farmer reads numerous psukim expressing his gratitude to Hashem. He expresses gratitude for many events in Jewish history. He thanks Hashem for saving Yaakov Avinu from the death-plot of Lavan, for making us a strong, great and numerous Nation in Egypt, from a mere 70 people, for redeeming us from Egypt with great miracles, for giving us the Land of Israel, and for helping him (this farmer) have a successful harvest.
This is puzzling. When the farmer brings the first fruits to Hashem, why doesn’t he simply say, “Thank you Hashem for causing my food to grow”? That would be enough to show his realization that his successful harvest was due to Hashem and not to his own efforts. That would indicate his gratitude to Hashem. Why does the Torah instruct him to give a history lesson, starting from Lavan’s desire to kill Yaakov?
Rav Mordechai Gifter, zt”l , has an interesting explanation of a different pasuk which may help us understand our difficulty, here: It is not enough to be grateful for the good we receive. We must think and reflect on the entire context of that good. We must think about how bad and desperate our previous situation was before we received a kindness from a person. The more we are aware of this and reflect on it, the more we will appreciate the current act of kindness
By the mitzvah of Bikurim, the more that we are aware of all the events leading to the Bikurim, the more appreciation we will have to Hashem. The psukim that the farmer says, serve this purpose.
There are many people to whom we must show appreciation to, especially to our parents and teachers. If we can visualize all the good that our parents have done for us starting from the time before our births until now, we will have a greater appreciation for them. That greater appreciation will lead to stronger feelings of love and respect for them.
When it comes to appreciation, view the total picture, from beginning to end!
Then you will realize how much more you need to be thankful for.