Midreshet Amit


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Parshat Ki Tavo - A Basket

By: Rabbi Daniel Goldstein

This week's parsha, Ki Tavo, begins with the mitzvah of Bikkurim—the bringing of the first fruits. The sentiment behind the mitzvah is clear. A farmer, having worked hard and produced fine results, is called upon to remember his humble beginnings and give thanks to Hashem.

The Torah describes the initial procedure in the following way:

"And it will be, when you come into the land which the Lord, your God, gives you for an inheritance, and you possess it and settle in it, that you shall take of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you will bring from your land, which the Lord, your God, is giving you. And you shall put [them] into a basket and go to the place which the Lord, your God, will choose to have His Name dwell there (Dvarim 26:1-2)."

At first glace, the mention the basket seems like an unimportant aside. Yet, Chazal integrated the basket into the codified halachah: "V'samta bateneh—melamed shetunah kli! And you shall place it in a basket—this teaches that a vessel is required (Sifre Ki Tavo 298)." Why would something that seems simply to be practical advice become required ritual? What is the meaning of the basket?

Perhaps an important lesson can be learned. The fruit that the farmer brings to Yerushalayim is more than just fruit. It is the physical expression of all of the goodness and blessing that Hashem has bestowed on him. When the Torah requires that you bring your "blessings", it also requires that you think about the framework which holds those blessings together. For indeed, a person can be blessed with many things, but if he or she never creates a framework with which to manage and cultivate them, he may find them going to waste.

The Netziv expresses this idea in the first of the Birkat Kohanim: "May Hashem bless you and watch over you, yevarech'cha Hashem v'yishmerecha (Bamidbar 6:24)" Not only do they request that Hashem bless us, but also that he watch over us—that He also provide for us a framework to hold onto and watch over the blessings He has given us.

This idea resonates as we begin the sixth class of Midreshet AMIT. Here, our goal is twofold. We hope to impart in our Talmidot new experiences and new avenues of growth in Torah. But most importantly, we hope to bolster the values of Torah, Chesed and Eretz Yisrael which serve as the framework our lives.

May we all be blessed with a productive new year.