There is a very puzzling Sifri on the Mitzvah of Bikurim, the first Mitzvah in Parashat Ki Tavo. The Sifri states that as a reward for performing the Mitzvah of Bikurim, Bnei Yisrael were given Eretz Yisrael. However, we also know that the Bikurim were brought only once Bnei Yisrael were already in Eretz Yisrael. How could the land of Israel be a reward for performing the Mitzvah of Bikurim?
In order to answer this question, the Beit Aharon poses two similar questions. In the beginning of the second Berachah of Birkat HaMazon, we thank Hashem for bringing us into Eretz Yisrael and for taking us out of Egypt. This seems out of order. First we left Egypt, and then we went into the land. Additionally, part of the verbal declaration outlined in Parashat Ki Tavo which is said by the person who brings the Bikurim states that Hashem brought us to “this place,” which, according to Rashi, refers to the Beit HaMikdash. After the one who brings Bikurim states this, he mentions that Hashem gave us this land. Once again, this seems out of order. First we went into the land, and only after did we build the Beit HaMikdash.
According to the Beit Aharon, each of these cases is not in chronological order. Rather, it is in the order of what Bnei Yisrael longed for the most. Because Bnei Yisrael desperately wanted do the Mitzvah of Bikurim and all the other Mitzvot HaTeluyot BaAretz, they were rewarded with Eretz Yisrael. Because Bnei Yisrael longed to live in the land of Israel, they were taken out of Egypt. And because Bnei Yisrael yearned for the Beit HaMikdash, they were rewarded with the Zechut to live in Eretz Yisrael. This is the meaning of the Sifri and the reason why the paragraph of Nodeh Lecha in Birkat HaMazon and the verbal declaration we say when we bring the Bikurim seem to be out of order.
We can learn a very important lesson from the Beit Aharon’s explanation of the order of these statements. Even if we are not in Israel and even though we do not have the Beit HaMikdash, our thoughts must always be with Israel, and we must yearn for the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash.