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The True Meaning of "Thank You"

By: Mrs. Devorah Starr

Parshat Ki Tavo begins with a description of the process that each and every member of Klal went through when they brought their first fruits to Kohen in the Beit Hamikdash. The Torah presents a step by step guide how the process works and even provides a very specific and precise script for the ceremony. This is the script presented in the Torah and it may seem familiar because it makes up a central part of the Pesach Seder.

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And thou shalt speak and say before the LORD thy God: 'A wandering Aramean was my father, and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there, few in number; and he became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous . 6 And the Egyptians dealt ill with us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage . 7 And we cried unto the LORD, the God of our fathers, and the LORD heard our voice, and saw our affliction, and our toil, and our oppression . 8 And the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders . 9 And He hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey

The question is why do we use these pesukim  as our script? Wouldn’t it have been enough just to say thank you?  Why do we have to go so far back into our history? Isn’t it overkill?

A possible answer is that true appreciation can only come when we understand the big picture. In order to really appreciate and show the appropriate thanks to God for the things he has given us we must fully understand the history of how we got here. These pesukim provide us with our collective back “story” and this is precisely what makes us who we are as a people. Only with that understanding of our shared history can we appreciate the small things that each one of receives on a daily basis.

The Mitzvah of Bikurim is enhanced by the storytelling that accompanies the giving of these precious first fruits.   Each one of us are charged with the mission of sharing and telling our story so that we all can appreciate everything that Hashem has given us to the greatest possible.  

The Mitzvah of Bikurim presents the ideal way for us to say “Thank You.”  Imagine that you gave someone a gift of a really nice purple scarf . When the person thanks you they can say, “thank you so much for the scarf.” Or, they can say, “ Thank you so much for the scarf. I am so touched that you remembered that I mentioned that I really wanted a new scarf. Wasn’t it last year that I said that?  It is extra thoughtful of you to remember that purple is my favorite color. I can’t believe you remembered all those things about me and I am really so thankful for how kind you are to me”.

It is clear which “Thank You” is more meaningful . In the 2nd thank you, the gift recipient is giving a little more of the backstory as to why the gift is so meaningful. The 2nd is obviously more thoughtful, but also really expresses thanks by  filling in the details just like is done with the Bikurim.  In the Mitzvah of Bichurim the Torah is modeling for us the proper and true way to say “Thank You.”

Shabbat Shalom!