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Friday, September 19

The Weekly Shtikle - Ki Savo

This week's parsha begins with the process of the bringing of Bikurim, the first fruits, and the passages that are to be recited at the time that they are brought. We are instructed to (26:3) "And you shall come to the Kohein in those days and you shall say to him: 'I have said today to HaShem your God that I have come to the land that HaShem has sworn to our fathers to give to us.'" Rashi, on the words "ve'omarta eilav," and you shall say to him, comments "[to show] that you are not ungrateful." This implies that the purpose of the recitation is to show that he is not ungrateful. My father points out, however, that the very essence of bikurim is an expression of thanks to HaShem. We go out of our way to show that we appreciate that everything comes from HaShem by bringing our first fruits to Yerushalayim. Why would anyone think us ungrateful that we should have to recite this passage to refute that perception? Furthermore, it is strange that Rashi would make this comment on the words "ve'omarta eilav," rather than on the actual words that are recited.

My father's answer is based on a remarkable interpretation of bikurim from Netziv in Hemek Davar. He is bothered by the words "HaShem Elokecha," as opposed to "HaShem Elokeinu." Why are we referring to HaShem as the God of the Kohein rather than our God. He answers that the purpose of the bikurim process going through the Kohein is so that we may show gratitude to the righteous Kohanim, that in their merit and through the Providence bestowed upon them by HaShem, that we are worthy of entering Eretz Yisroel. That is why we direct the opening passage towards the Kohein.

Rashi, as well, is not suggesting that we are showing that we are not ungrateful to HaShem. Our actions are indicative enough in that regard. Rather, we are going out of our way to show that we are not ungrateful to the Kohein for his spiritual influence on the nation and the merit that he brings to the nation as a whole. And that is why Rashi is explaining the words "ve'omarta eilav." He is explaining why we are talking to the Kohein. The Kohein is more than just a middle man in the bikurim process. He is an essential figure.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka


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