Throughout life, we all experience joy as well as sadness, satisfaction as well as disappointment. A Jewish farmer is no different. Each year, he experiences the full gamut of emotions since the weather and success of his crops is unpredictable.
In autumn he prays and hopes for a rainy winter. In early spring, he plants, with faith that his crops will prosper, and in summer, he celebrates his bountiful and luscious produce or laments an unsuccessful season, before starting anew.
As discussed at the sedra start, there was a mitzvah to bring to the Temple the bikkurim (first ripe fruits of the seven special species), hand them to the priests and recite a declaration that succinctly recounts the journey of the Jewish people – from slavery in Egypt through to entering the Israel.
Having experienced a long winter, toiled vigorously in the fields and prayed and hoped for a successful crop, bikkurim was a joyful, heartfelt outpouring of gratitude to God for the blessing of fruit and the gift of the Land of Israel.
While we are unable to perform this mitzvah in the Temple’s absence, we can continue to express our gratitude and appreciation for the infinite blessings in our life – both to God as well as to the many people and organisations who support us.
Choosing to recognise the tremendous good in our lives and sincerely expressing our appreciation to God and to others infuses our lives with joy and meaning. As Pirkei Avot (4:1) teaches: ‘Who is rich? One who rejoices with what he has.’
ω Rabbi Caller is educational coordinator of the Aish Gesher Program at Yeshivat Aish HaTorah, Jerusalem