Satisfying Offering by Tzvi Zuckier


In introducing the topic of Bikkurim, the first fruits which were brought to the Beit HaMikdash, the Torah states, “VeHaya Ki Tavo El HaAretz Asher Hashem Elokecha Notein Lecha Nachalah ViYrishtah VeYashavta Bah,” “And it shall be when you come to the land which Hashem your G-d gives you as an inheritance, and you shall possess it and dwell in it.”  The next several Pesukim describe the process of bringing Bikkurim. Rashi quotes the Gemara (Kiddushin 37b), which learns from this first Pasuk that the bringing of Bikkurim and its laws are only applicable when living in Israel after the land was divided.  One key detail which is absent from the Pesukim is the minimum quantity of Bikkurim required to be presented.  The Yerushalmi (Bikkurim 83), quoted by the Rambam, defines the minimum as one sixtieth.  The meaning of the Yerushalmi is somewhat unclear; what must one bring a sixtieth of?

The Aliyot Eliyahu, cited by Maayanah Shel Torah, offers a satisfying solution to this question based on the aforementioned rule that Bikkurim apply only in Eretz Yisrael.  He quotes a Mishnah in Masechet Keilim which states that a Teneh, the word used for the basket basket in which the Bikkurim are placed, can hold up to half a Saah.  The Gemara (Ketubot 111) explains that at the time when the Shechinah resides in Israel, which is only when the Jews live in Eretz Yisrael, every tree would yield the amount of produce which would require the effort of two donkeys to haul.  According to Chazal, one donkey can carry fifteen Saah, so each tree would yield twice that amount, or thirty Saah.  Since the laws of Bikkurim only relate to a time when the Jews live in Israel, each tree produced thirty Saah when the laws of Bikkurim were in effect.  Since the laws of Bikkurim apply even if one owns just a single tree, the smallest possible required quantity of Bikkurim is one sixtieth of one tree. This one sixtieth is exactly half a Saah, the amount a Teneh can hold.

The Torah is flawless.  Although certain details may not be explicitly stated, there is almost always some hint to them in the Pesukim. We should not assume (Chas VeShalom) that the Torah is incorrect or incomplete.  It is well known that the Torah was written with as few words as possible and Hashem, in his infinite wisdom, knew what items to include and what parts to leave out.  However, Hashem still included clues in the Torah which point to the correct Halachic conclusion to be reached. 

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