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B”H

TAVO - DOING A MITZVAH WITH JOY!
By Rabbi Yonassan Biggs

 ---
Shalom and Bracha!

May Hashem inscribe you, your entire family and all those who are dear to you in the book of life for a healthy, happy, prosperous and sweet new year and may we see the redemption through Moshiach immediately!

This Shabbat is we read the portion of Ki Tavo. The portion begins with the Mitzvah of Bikkurim, the first fruits, and continues with the Mitzvah of tithing. The Mitzvah of Bikkurim consists of taking the first fruits of our crops and bringing them to the Temple in Yerushalayim where they were distributed among the Kohanim. Rashi explains that when one sees the first fruits ripening, he marks it and declares it Bikkurim. At the time of the harvest he separates it to bring to Yerushalayim.

The Mishnah describes the bringing of the first fruit as an elaborate and joyous ceremony. All of the Jews in a region would gather together. As they walked to Yerushalayim, the procession was lead by an ox with golden horns and a crown of olive leaves. They would proceed slowly, singing the entire way. The Bikkurim were brought in elaborate vessels, adorned with doves. Upon reaching Yerushalayim, the city officials would come and greet the pilgrims. Upon reaching the Temple Mount even the wealthiest individuals would personally carry their Bikkurim until reaching the altar. There, they would thank Hashem for the Exodus, the land of Israel and for all of Hashem's blessings.

The Mitzvah of Bikkurim itself teaches us that the first thing we must see in everything is its potential for serving Hashem. This is the strongest expression of our faith that everything we have is a gift from Hashem. Before we enjoy the fruits of our labor, we use them for a Mitzvah. The significance of the first is also very great. First impressions have a long effect. When the first usage of something is for the service of Hashem, directs its further usage. This is also why the first words we say each day should be Modeh Ani, thanking G-d for life. Similarly, we begin the day with prayer and Torah study in order to direct the day in the right manner.

The manner of bringing Bikkurim is a tremendous lesson. The procession and the ornamentation demonstrate that a Mitzvah is not a burden, but rather an act of love and joy. We are privileged to serve Hashem and whether a Mitzvah entails physical or financial exertion, we rejoice in fulfilling it.

The fundamental importance of joy in service of G-d is further stressed later in the portion. The Torah describes the blessings which come for following G-d’s commandments and the negative consequences for going against the path of G-d. At the end of the negative consequences, the Torah explains that all of the negative consequences came for not serving Hashem with joy and a good heart. The Arizal, a great Kabbalist, explains the verse to mean that even had we served Hashem, but without joy, we deserve punishment. Through service with joy, we merit all of the blessings.

Joy is critical because it defines our fulfillment of a Mitzvah. Every Mitzvah is an opportunity to be connected with Hashem. This is our greatest privilege. When a Mitzvah is cold, either there is a lack of understanding or a lack of wanting to be close with Hashem. When there is joy there is a bond of love that elicits blessings in every manner.

This Friday is the birthday of the Ba’al Shem Tov, the founder of Chassidut, and R’ Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of Chabad Chassidut. Chassidut teaches at length how to bring joy into service of Hashem. It is noteworthy that their birthday is on the 18th of Elul, Chai, which means life, and their teachings enliven our service of Hashem.

The discussion of Ma’aser (tithing) in the portion describes emptying the house of all required gifts to the poor, to the Levi, to the Temple and to the Kohen and requesting Hashem’s blessings. Reading this shortly before Rosh Hashanah is a gentle reminder to fulfill all of our charity obligations at this time. When the Torah discusses the Mitzvah of Ma’aser, Rashi comments that the power of gifts to the needy is so strong it changes Hashem’s severity to kindness. As we approach Rosh Hashanah, we all need that extra measure of kindness. May we merit the ultimate kindness and see the coming of Moshiach right now!! Shabbat Shalom and a Ketivah Vachatimah Tovah Leshana Tovah Umetukah,

Rabbi Biggs

Dedicated to Avraham Jemal on the occasion of his Brit. May he rise to be a source of joy and pride to his family and his people


http://www.chabadgn.com/holidays/jewishnewyear is a great website to better understand this month and the upcoming holidays.

A Project of Chabad of Great Neck
400 East Shore Rd. Great Neck NY 1102


 
   
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