Parashat Ki Tavo begins with the Mitzvah of Bikkurim. The farmer is told to take his first-ripened fruits to the Beit HaMikdash, present them to the Kohein, and recite a short prayer (Devarim 26:15). As Rav Elchanan Samet has pointed out, Bikkurim appear to be an extension of the Mitzvot of “Reishit,” which include Mitzvot such as Reishit HaGez (the first of the wool of a flock), Pidyon HaBein and Bechor Beheimah (giving the first-born of a Kosher animal to the Kohein). Indeed, Rambam (Moreh Nevuchim 3:39) lists Bikkurim in his list of Mitzvot of “Reishit” that he contends were commanded to Bnei Yisrael in order to cement the attribute of generosity within them. Interestingly, BeReishit Rabbah (1:4) teaches us that it was in the merit of the bringing of the Bikkurim that the world was created. Why is the Mitzvah of Bikkurim, as opposed to all other Mitzvot of “Reishit,” so significant that it made the world worth being created?
Rav Eli Scheller answers that man was placed in this world with the mission of recognizing that Hashem is our creator as well as the creator of the universe. However, it is difficult for us to always be aware of this, since we are constantly caught up in the pressures of daily life. Amidst the hustle and bustle of daily life, we can erroneously conclude that our creative force makes us equals of God, complete masters of our universe.
The purpose of Bikkurim is to humble us and teach us that although we may invest hours of hard work in any of our pursuits, our creative capacity cannot even be compared to that of God. One may devote his time planting and caring for his field (unlike the other Mitzvot of “Reishit,” which deal with newly-born livestock that do not require months of hard work to produce) and feel that he himself created his fruit, so it is important that he take those first fruits and acknowledge that they come from God.
Just last week, my Zaidy, Chaim Baruch ben Zevel, unfortunately passed away unexpectedly. Looking back at his life, I realize that he exemplified this positive attribute that we can learn from the Bikkurim. While being very successful in business, he still realized that everything comes from Hashem, and he had a very close relationship with Him. I hope that I will one day be as successful as he was while also maintaining a strong connection with Hashem.