Hi… It’s me. Benny.
The Mishnah describes the process of setting aside Bikkurim:
How is Bikkurim separated? A man goes down to his field and if he sees a fig that ripened, grapes that ripened, or a pomegranate that ripened, he ties a string around them, and says “These are Bikkurim.”
Mishnah, Tractate Bikkurim, Perek 3, Mishnah 1
Have you noticed? The Mishnah chooses three of the ‘Seven Kinds’ – to demonstrate this Mitzvah. Why these three?
Rabbi Menachem Zemba of Warsaw (1883-1943) answered this question:
This great Torah scholar quotes Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, known as the Arizal (1534-1572), who explains that the Bikkurim Mitzvah is actually the remedy of the Sin of the Spies. In Hebrew we call this “fix” a Tikun. If you recall, the Torah tells us back in Parshas Shlach that the spies came back carrying beautiful and huge grapes, pomegranates and figs. But their goal was to frighten Bnei Yisrael and discourage them from entering the Holy Land.
Time for a quick spy conversation/plan/deviant plot Flashback:
“We’ll show them these colossal, gigantic, gargantuan, enormous, humongous fruit and that will give our fellow Jews a taste of what lies in store for us.”
“Yeah, nothing but giant problems!”
Now, when the Jewish farmers take these very same fruits – grapes, pomegranates and figs – and joyously bring them to Yerushalayim to thank HaShem for the Land of Israel, they are, so to say, “fixing” the sin of the Meraglim.
Wow! Thank you so much Rabbi Zemba… AMAZING!
The holiday of Shavuos, the day we celebrate Matan Torah, the Giving of the Torah (and the day we eat super-delicous cheese-cake, blintzes and ice cream) is also called Chag HaBikkurim, the Holiday of Bikkurim. That’s because Shavuos is the first day of the season to bring the Bikkurim.
The Mishnah, in the section called Bikkurim, describes the musicians playing their flutes as the Bikkurim parade came down to Jerusalem. And finally, when the farmers would arrive, they would hear the Levi’im singing the beautiful words of Tehillim. Clearly, song and Bikkurim go hand-in-hand and is a BIG DEAL!
Now, for an interesting play on words:
Back in Parshas Mikeitz, when Yaakov tells his sons to take some of the finest products of Eretz Yisrael with them to Egypt, he calls it “Zimras HaAretz,” usually translated “the best produce of the land.” Yet Rashi offers another translation, related to the word, Zimrah, which means “the song of the land.”
Why is that? Because when the Land of Israel produces its finest produce, everyone breaks into joyous song. No wonder singing and songs are so important in the Bikkurim parade!
“Bikkurim, Bikkurim, what a great Mitzvah…! A Mitzvah, a Mitzvah, it’s all for HaShem!”
No doubt, these were not the exact words the excited Farmer Ephraim was singing. Come to think of it, nobody who brought Bikkurim to the Beis HaMikdash spoke English.