This week we read the Torah portion of Ki Tavo – “when you will come into the land.” Ki Tavo contains a description of the ceremony of offering the first fruits of the Land of Israel, and gives the prayer that was to be recited by each person as he made his offering in the Sanctuary. The portion begins by stating: “When you come to the land that G-d your L-rd is giving you as an inheritance, occupying and settling it, you shall take of the first fruit….”
The foremost commentator, Rashi, explains that this verse teaches us that the Jewish people were not obligated to bring the first fruits until they conquered and divided the entire land, not just part of it. Offering the first fruits served as a gesture of thanks to G-d for leading the Jewish people into the Land of Israel and allowing them to enjoy its bounty.
As the land was being conquered and divided, bit by bit, the various tribes and families began receiving their allotted portions. Why weren’t these people obligated to bring their offerings of the first fruits from their land? Wouldn’t these offerings be an indication of gratitude for receiving their portion?
Bringing the first fruits was an active appreciation of G-d’s complete goodness. These fruits, therefore, could not be offered until Israel as a whole was conquered and divided among the Jewish people.
All Jews are connected with one another. As long as there remained a Jew who did not yet have his portion in the land, there was a diminished sense of joy among all the Jews, even those who had already received their portions.
This is a deeper reason why the Jewish people were not obligated to bring first fruits until they conquered and divided the entire land. The empathy which each Jew felt for the next is an indication of the true and absolute love and unity that existed among the Jewish people. Love of one’s fellow Jew was so great that a person could not be truly happy as long as there were Jews who did not yet have their portion in the land.
The lesson of Jewish unity and love for one’s fellow are not ancient teachings but real values that we must incorporate into our personal and communal lives until that time when we will all return to the Holy Land with the ingathering of the exiles and the coming of Moshiach NOW!!!