To Stir the Mind and to Light up the Shabbos”!
Parshas Ki Suvo
The Source, the Work and the Result
“ולקחת מראשית כל פרי האדמה” (דברים כו:ב)
“and you shall take from all first fruits of the earth” (Devorim 26:2)
The posuk does not use the word “ראשונה” to describe the first fruits but rather “ראשית“. What is the difference between the two terms?
The word “ראשונה” tells us that we are now embarking on a path made up of stages and shall progress one stage at a time, and that this stage is similar in all respects to all the other stages to follow, only that this is the very first of the stages. On the other hand, the word “ראשית” teaches us that although here too we are referring to a first “stage”, but in fact it is not a “stage” for it is disconnected to that which follows, but rather it is referring to the source energy of all the following stages.
Therefore, the law of the first fruits is different than the laws of the other mitzvos having to do with the land of Israel. That is, regarding trumos and maaseros in general, each stage leads to the following stage, whereas regarding first fruits this is not the case. And so explains Rashi, a person enters his field and when he notices a fruit which has already grown, he marks it in a way in which he will remember that it is a first fruit and he proclaims, “these are first fruits”. That is, this first “stage” does not lead to following stages but stands alone. Not only does this act of labeling the first fruits standalone but the first fruit is not actually removed from the field until later time. This comes to teach us that the first fruits stand on their own with no connection with that which will follow.
We learn from here that the word “ראשית” refers to the source which “resides” in an upper world; a world free of the restrictions and borders of this world, whereas “ראשונה” refers to the beginning of the revelation of that which emanates from the source and which is therefore bound by the laws and limitations of this world. Thus, it is expressed in stages.
For this reason, the Torah begins with the wording “בראשית” and not “בראשונה” for it is not coming at this point to explain the order of Creation but rather to teach us that the world stems from a source, that source being the Torah! (See the very beginning of Medrash Raba and in the Holy Zohar at the beginning of Parshas Toldos.) And so explains Rashi on the posuk “בראשית ברא” this posuk pleads with us to understand its depth, and our sages have taught us (Bereishis Raba) that the world was created for the Torah (meaning so that its teachings would be revealed) as it states “ראשית דרכו” / “the beginning of His way” (Mishlei 8:22) and for the Jewish people who too are referred to as “ראשית תבואתו” / “the beginning of His wheat” (Yirmiyahu 2:3). According to this, we can understand why the explanation of the first day of Creation ends with“ויהי ערב ויהי בקר יום אחד” / “And it was evening and it was morning, one day” and not with“ויהי ערב ויהי בקר יום ראשון” / “And it was evening and it was morning, the first day” for the Torah’s intent is to teach us that the first day stems from the Torah which created it and stands “אחד” / “alone” as the source of all Creation.
This is the “place” Yaakov our father yearned to reach as the posuk states“ויותר יעקב לבדו” / “And Yaakov remained alone” (Bereishis 32:25). “לבדו” / “alone”, meaning he longed to reach the “place” which is completely disattached from the nature and order of this world.
And so we find this concept regarding Moshe our master as the posuk states“והאיש משה ענו מאד מכל האדם אשר על פני האדמה” / “And the person Moshe (was) extremely humble more than all people that exist on the face of the earth” (Bamidbar 12:3). That is, he raised himself above and beyond the borders and limits of this world in order to reach the source of Creation. This is “מכל האדם אשר על פני האדמה” / “more than all people that exist on the face of the earth”, for Moshe rose above “the face of the earth”!
This point was hidden from Korach, the result being that he found himself stuck in this limited world and disattached from its source in a higher world. Thus, all his calculations were based on this world and did not take into account the higher level of Moshe and Aharon.
With this, we can understand the words of the Medrash (Bamidbar Raba 18:3) that Korach jumped and said to Moshe (in a tone of ridicule) a garment which is dyed completely with the color of techeles (green/blue color) will it be exempt one from dying a string of the tzitzis (hanging strings) with the techeles dye!? Moshe told him that nevertheless the string of tzitzis as well must be dyed with techeles.
Korach responded in ridicule, a garment which is completely dyed with techeles does not exempt itself, and you are telling me that four strings dyed with techeles does complete the mitzva!?
Adding ridicule to ridicule, Korach asked does a house filled with Holy books exempt the owner from attaching a Mezuza to the door post? Moshe answered that nevertheless one is obligated to attach a Mezuza.
Korach answered, the whole of the Torah contains 275 sections and yet (you are telling me that) this in insufficient in order to fulfill the mitzva of Mezuza, one section (that included in the Mezuza) attached to the door is sufficient!? Concluded Korach to Moshe, you were not commanded with these mitzvos, rather you made them up!!
In explanation of the above, we can suggest that the garment and the seven strings of each of its corners represents this world which is located on earth and runs according to a seven day week, whereas the eighth string colored techeles represents the upper world. And so it says in Gemora Chulin (89a) Rebbi Meir says, why was techeles chosen to be placed on tzitzis? For techeles is similar in color to the sea, and the sea is similar in color to the sky, and the sky is similar in color to the sapir stone and the sapir stone is similar to the “color” of Hashem’s Holy Throne. And thus the posuk states“והיה לכם לציצית וראיתם אותו וזכרתם את כל מצות ה’ ועשיתם אותם” / “And you shall have tzitzis and you shall see it (the colored string) and remember all of Hashem’s mitzvos and fulfill them” (Bamidbar 15:39). Korach was not looking to reach that point and thus fell to the pits of existence.
In a similar fashion we can understand Korach’s confusion with the Mitzva of attaching a Mezuza to the door post. We can suggest that the Holy Writings of the Torah represent their effect on this world and the Mezuza represents our responsibility to tie our efforts to their source in the upper world.
This too is the concept behind the commandment of“זכור את יום השבת לקדשו” / “Remember the day of Shabbos to sanctify it” (Shemos 20:8). Meaning, to remember that this world is connected to a higher world and that receives its nourishment from it.
And so too this is behind the need to perform Mitzvos for Hashem’s sake, meaning solely because He commanded us to perform them, disattached to any ulterior motive for their performance. For in doing so, a person atraches his actions to the source of the Mitzva in the upper world. This is especially needed regarding the building of the Mishan/Santuary for it was dedicated to Hashem’s most holy obligations given to man. Therefore, regarding the building of the Mishkan and even regarding the collecting of the materials needed to build the Mishkan, the Torah obligated to do all the above “lishma” – exclusively for Hashem’s sake!
Perhaps according to the above we can understand a difficult passage found at the end of Yaakov’s dream. There it is written“והאבן הזאת אשר שמתי מצבה יהיה בית אלקים וכל אשר תתן לי עשר אעשרנו לך” / “And this stone which I stood upright (and annointed) will become the house of G-d and all that you (G-d) will give me, I will surely tithe to You” (Bereishis 28:22). The obvious question is, what connection is there between the Beis Hamikdash and the tithing of produce!?
According to the above, we can explain, with G-d’s help, that the Beis Hamikdash represents the source of kedusha – the power of ראשית – the concept of first fruits, and the tithing of produce of the field represents our work in this lower world which extends from a higher world.
According to this, we have a better understanding of that which the Jewish people are called Hashem’s produce “תבואתה” for their purpose is to connect the order and produce of this world with its source in the upper world. This is as the Sefas Emes explains (Parshas Ki Suvo year 5637 מצות ביכורים) that the Jewish people have the ability to always attach themselves to the “ראשית“.
Our Holy Forefathers: The Source of Our Growth and Expansion
“ויהי שם לגוי גדול עצום ורב” (דברים כו:ה)
“And they (the Jewish people) became there (in Egypt) an extremely great, powerful and expansive nation” (Devorim 26:5)
We can suggest that all that is stated in the posuk regarding the status of the Jewish people in Egypt was only the sprouting of the seeds planted in the Jewish nation by our holy forefathers, may their memories be blessed.
The wording “גדול” / “great” refers to the merit of Avraham who was referred to as “גדול” / “great” as the posuk states “ואעשך לגוי גדול” / “And I will make you into a great people” (Bereishis 12:2).
The wording of “עצום” / “powerful” refers to the merit of Yitzchok who is called “עצום” / “powerful” as the posuk states“ויאמר אבימלך אל יצחק לך מעמנו כי עצמת ממנו מאד” / “And Avimelech said to Yitzchok go away from us for you have become extremely powerful – more than us” (ibid 26:16).
And finally, the wording “ורב” / “expansive” is said in the merit of Yaakov who is called “רב” / “expansive” as the posuk states“ויאמר ישראל רב עוד יוסף בני חי” / “And Yisrael (Yaakov) said, great (expansive), my son Yosef is still alive” (ibid 45:28).
The Future Redemption of the Jewish People is Dependent upon our Fulfillment of Hashem’s Mitzvos
“וראו כל עמי הארץ כי שם ה’ נקרא עליך ויראו ממך” (דברים כח:י)
“And all the nations of the land will see that the name of G-d is called upon you and they will be filled with fear of you” (Devorim 28:10)
When will we see a fulfillment of this prophecy!?
Now, the holy Zohar states (Parshas Mishpatim pg. 105a) that in the future the Jewish people will rule over the other nations. This is the translation and explanation of the holy Zohar by the commentary Metok Midvash: Regarding the time of redemption it is written“מי אלה כעב תעופינה” (Yishaya 60:8). מ”י will combine with אל”ה and form the name אלקי”ם and all the world will see that name of G-d had reached a state of completion and at that time the Jewish people will rule over the other nations. According to the above, our posuk is referring to the days to come.
Now the Gemora in Brachos (6a) quotes Rebbi Eliezer the Elder that “the name of G-d” referred to in our posuk refers to the head Tefillin (as the name of Hashem is hinted to in the letter shin on the outside of the head Tefillin). Why to the head Tefillin? For they are visible to the eye! If Rebbi Eliezer says that we are referring here to Tefillin, what, therefore, is the role of the hand Tefillin?
We can suggest that the ability of the Jewish people to rule over the nations which is represented by the head Tefillin is only a second stage. The first stage is the fulfillment of mitzvos between the Jewish people themselves (which is not seen by others outside of the Jewish camp) as this is represented by the hand Tefillin which is only seen by its wearer. Through their fulfillment of the full range of mitzvos, the Jewish people will then be feared and revered by the nations of the world and this will bring about the joining of the two parts of Hashem’s name and thus to the ultimate redemption!