By Rav Shmuel Brazil
The mitzvah of Bikkurim is preceded by coming into Eretz Yisrael. To our Chazal this juxtaposition relates not only that the obligation of Bikkurim applies exclusively in Eretz Yisrael but it also conveys that the merit of entering Eretz Yisrael is contingent upon the fulfillment of this mitzvah. This interpretation is quite puzzling since it is impossible to serve as merit until we have already entered?
Rav Shwab ztl answers that we have to redefine the meaning of entering Eretz Yisrael. Contrary to secular outlook, our land is not merely a medinah, a country designated for Jewish survival or identity. But rather it is defined by the plea of Moshe Rabbeinu to Hashem requesting permission to enter Eretz Yisrael when he said (Devarim 3,25) Let me pass over the Yarden and see the good land, (which is) the mountain (Yerushalayim) and the Levanon (Beis Hamikdash – Rashi). The quintessence of Eretz Yisrael is the Beis Hamikdash in Yerushalayim. There is the place of avodah with its intensity and the revelation of the dwelling of the Shechinah. Until the Beis Hamikdash was built we might have been on the land of Eretz Yisrael but we did not yet enter in it. Breaking the surface of the land while digging deep for oil wells or to plant trees won’t do it. In contrast, it was the light of Beis Hamikdash that dug through the surface of one’s physical body and contacted his neshamah allowing it to beam out from within. It was the same Beis Hamikdash that pierced through the veil and camouflage of nature and revealed the supernatural quality that lies and vibrantly pulsates underneath it. Only such a holy place actualized entering Eretz Yisrael in its true sense.
Now we can understand the connection of the merit of mitzvas Bikkurim to entering Eretz Yisrael. Building a Beis Hamikdash in one’s heart is accomplished through disciplining one’s physical appetites and cravings for the sake of the spirit within man. To refrain from eating one’s first ripened fruits, the product of his hard labor, and to delay his partaking from them for a prolonged period of time which also involves making the trek with them to Yerushalayim and the Beis Hamikdash, is a very difficult and challenging hardship. One must display an incredible degree of self control by constantly pulling on the reins of his body’s impulses and demands, a process which produces the light of his neshamah to be revealed. In doing so, one builds the Beis Hamikdash in his heart thereby laying the ground work for the physical building of the outward Beis Hamikdash in which the neshamah of the universe, none other than Hashem Yisbarach, is revealed.
Rosh Hashanah shares this same aspect with the Beis Hamikdash. In fact the gematriah of ראש השנה is identical to that of בית המקדש – 861. Just as the Beis Hamikdash is the source, identity and energy of Eretz Yisrael in the realm of space, so too, Rosh Hashana is the source and energy of the entire year in the realm of time. The amount of spiritual and material sustenance, and the quality of life, that is granted to us during the year, is determined on Rosh Hashanah and Aseres Yemai Teshuvah. These coming days are likened to a seed that is planted and destined to sprout forth fruit bearing trees. If the seed is decayed or damaged in any way, the fruit that it will bear in the future will portray the same as its source. This comparison teaches us that the spiritual condition with which we stand before Hashem on Rosh Hashanah is parallel to the Beis Hamikdash which is the source of both the physical and spiritual energy to be distributed to all the perimeters of Eretz Yisrael and the world.
We all know that Rosh Hashanah is the Day of Judgment. This concept however is not stated openly in the Torah. Chazal tell us that it is hinted in the passuk תמיד עיני ה’ אלקיך בה מראשית השנה ועד אחרית שנה (Devarim 11,12). The hashgacha of Hashem is always on Eretz Yisrael from the beginning of the year until its end. Chazal explain this to be an allusion to Rosh Hashanah as being the Yom Hadin, that from the very beginning of the year it is determined what will occur at its end. Why is the Yom Hadin mentioned in correlation with the hashgacha of Hashem in Eretz Yisrael?
The answer is because the overt hashgacha of Hashem in the entire Eretz Yisrael stems from Hashem’s evident presence in the Beis Hamikdash. The space and hashgacha of the Beis Hamikdash is the source of the hashgacha and space of the land of Eretz Yisrael. Rosh Hashanah parallels the Beis Hamikdash in this aspect that it too serves as the source of all what is to happen during the coming year.
How good of an investor are you to spot a great deal when you see it? There are approximately 8532 hours in the Jewish Year. The one day of Rosh Hashanah affects them all. Every hour of Rosh Hashanah will leave its indelible impression on 355 hours of the coming year. There are 511,920 minutes in the year. Each and every minute of Rosh Hashanah will effect 1,440 minutes of the entire year. There are 30,715,200 seconds in a year. Therefore each and every second of Rosh Hashanah will form and shape 511,920 seconds of the next year.
Here lies an incredible awesome responsibility within a mere 24 hour period! There are only two choices in front of us. We can be a good investor and take advantage of Rosh Hashanah which presents a spectacular once in a lifetime investor’s dream opportunity with stellar off the chart returns on a mere one day minimum investment. The second choice for us is to be a bad investor with the same percentage of unfortunately incredible staggering losses of nightmare proportions chas veshalom. If we view Rosh Hashanah through this perspective and choose to be the good investor, I can guarantee that this coming Rosh Hashanah will be vastly different from last year’s in many ways.