I read the laws of Bikkurim, the ceremony presenting our First Fruits in the Temple in Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 26), as the final chapter of the story of the original First Fruits; those of the Garden of Eden. Human beings have been yanked this way and that by desire ever since their creation on Rosh Hashanah was immediately followed by the introduction of the fruits they could not have. Bikkurim are the completion of the story of the first Rosh Hashanah, and we use this time of year to offer our First Fruits.
"The King's glory is in an expansive people," was the opening theme of the Bikkurim parade as they would assemble for the trip to Jerusalem, as it is for us who are stepping towards the Rosh Hashanah Coronation. A "multitude of people" does not guarantee God's glory. Two people, Adam and Eve, fighting each other and themselves, lessen God's glory. We glorify God, not in numbers, but in expansiveness. We too, are bringing our First Fruits when we're not busy battling each other over what is ours or who speaks the truth. Our Bikkurim begin with affording room for people to explore and grow.
The daily Shofar blowing marks our joining the Bikkurim parade, "led by an ox, its 'horns' covered with gold, the marchers chanting, "I'm thrilled when they say to me, 'Let us go to the House of God' (Psalms 122:1)." People carrying decorated baskets filled with their successes of the past year to lift up to God and say, "This is what we have accomplished! We have learned how to properly make this world our own."
Myriads of singing angels descend from the Heavens to greet us as we approach the Rosh Hashanah Coronation just as the inhabitants of Jerusalem would swarm out with music to greet those bringing the First Fruits. The angels rejoice when we use Rosh Hashanah to bring our First Fruits, replaying the scenes of the Garden, having learned how to make all the fruit ours, without grabbing what is not.
There is one moment in the presentation of the First Fruits that resonates deep within my soul: "While the presenter held the edges of the basket, the Kohen placed his hands beneath it, and together they performed the waving-ceremony."
The visitor does not hand over his basket of First Fruits; he first shares it with the Temple representative.
We hold our baskets of fruit and accomplishments together with God.
This is not a ceremony of give and take but of sharing.
This is not, "I did my part; You do Yours," but, "I share my existence with You, as You share Your existence with me."
This is not a question of "Whose fruit are they?" as asked and argued by Adam. This is, "I honor all that I have as Your sharing with me."
These days are not filled with prayers of pleading, but of sharing between God and us, us and God.
These are days on which the Bikkurim parades and the heavenly angels join us as we head toward the Coronation celebrated right back where it all began, in the Garden, with Adam and Eve looking on, as we stretch out our baskets of accomplishments to God and say, "Grab with us and hold on for the ride!"
Rabbi Simcha L. Weinberg
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