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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Ki Tavo

Parashat Ki Tavo

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In his comment on the first verse of our parasha, Rashi quotes the Gemara in Kiddushin (37b) which states that the mitzva of bikkurim became obligatory only after the Jewish people conquered all of the land of Canaan and divided it among the twelve tribes of Israel.

It is well known that the conquest took fourteen years to complete. The question that presents itself is why the mitzva of bikkurim did not go into effect after each section of Eretz Israel was conquered and as soon as each part was cultivated and bore fruit. After all, the mitzva of bikkurim is primarily a demonstration of hakarat hatov, appreciation and thanks, to God for having granted us the privilege of living in Eretz Israel and enjoying its fruits. Why then was it necessary to wait until all of Eretz Israel was conquered and apportioned? The Gemara in Pesachim (36b) emphasizes that the mitzva of bikkurim is fulfilled between Shavuot and Sukkot because that is the time of the ingathering of the fruit when the joy is greatest. Why, then, were the Jewish people not required to give thanks for the land and its fruit during their first fourteen years in the land?

The Torah seems to be teaching us that our personal happiness cannot be complete until all of Eretz Israel is conquered and settled. While mitzvot pertaining to the land of Israel must be fulfilled on every inch of the holy land, the mitzva of bikkurim, thankfulness and appreciation to God for having given us the fruit of the land, cannot be fulfilled until all of the land is ours and until all Jews dwell therein. To be complete, our personal happiness must be coupled with the happiness of Klal Israel.

While the conquest of all of Eretz Israel may appear to be something in the distant future, Jews settling in the land which is already ours can be achieved right now.

We hope and pray that all Jews will settle in the land and that God will grant us the privilege of possessing all of Eretz Israel in our own time.

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