By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman, Dean, Cheder Chabad of Monsey
We are now in the Hebrew month of Elul, just a few weeks away from Rosh Hashanah and the High Holidays – a time of reflection, introspection and taking on new resolutions with which to enhance our lives, spiritually and meaningfully.
Cheder Chabad of Monsey hopes that these weekly Torah thoughts will help inspire to achieve those goals. All the students, staff and administration of Cheder Chabad of Monsey wish you and yours a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. May this year be the year of the full and complete redemption with the coming of our righteous Moshiach - NOW!
In this week’s portion Ki Sovo (Devorim [Deuteronomy] 26:1-29:8) .we read about Bikurim (26:1-11), the first fruit offerings that Jewish farmers in the Holy Land were commanded to bring, in thanksgiving to G-d for the land and its produce. On a basic level, Bikurim remind us never to become ungrateful for the things we are blessed with in life.
Interestingly, the law only took effect fourteen years after the Jewish people entered the Promised Land. It took seven years to conquer and another seven to apportion the land amongst the twelve tribes of Israel. Only when that process was completed did the law of the first fruits become applicable.
But why? Surely there were quite a few tribes who were settled earlier. No doubt, some of the farmers who had received their allotted land had planted and seen the first fruits of their labor. Why then were they not required to show their appreciation immediately by bringing the Bikkurim offering?
The Rebbe in a talk explains that in commanding this mitzvah the Torah uses the phrase, "And you shall rejoice with all the good that the L-rd your G-d has given you." In order to be able to fully experience the joy of his own blessings in life, a Jew needs to know that his brothers and sisters have been blessed as well. As long as one Jew knew that there were others who had not yet been settled in their land, he could not be fully content. Since simchah, genuine joy, was a necessary component in the mitzvah of Bikkurim, it could only be fulfilled when everyone had been satisfied. Only then can a Jew experience true simchah, a sincere and genuine joy. One Jew's satisfaction is not complete when he knows that his brother has not yet been taken care of.
So, if you have a job, think of someone who doesn't and try to do something to ease his plight. If you are happily married, think of those still searching for their bashert and try making a suitable introduction. And as the holiday season is almost upon us, if you will be privileged enough to be able buy new outfits for your family, spare a thought for those who cannot contemplate such a luxury. And when you plan your festive holiday meals with your family and friends, remember to invite the lonely, the widow and the single parent, too.
Rabbi Chesed Halberstam would often help out in the home of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. He relates that he was once present when the Rebbe came home for dinner, and noticed that before sitting down to eat, the Rebbe walked over to a charity box stationed near the dining room table and placed a few coins inside.
He eventually came to realize that this was a nightly routine of the Rebbe. Before tending to his own needs, the Rebbe participated in providing for the needs of another. What a beautiful custom.
In this merit, please G-d, we will all be blessed with a joyous and sweet new year.
(Excerpts from Chabad.org - by Rabbi Yossy Goldman)
May you have a meaningful and uplifting Shabbos !