“And every offering of all the holy things…which they bring to the kohen, shall be his,” states the Torah in this week’s portion, Nasso. the great Torah commentator Rashi explains, “This refers to bikurim (first fruits).”
The very first fruits to ripen are to be brought to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and given to the kohen (priest), as his due.
Agricultural produce does not grow by itself. In order to produce those fruits a Jew must toil countless hours painstakingly plowing, sowing and tending his fields. Yet instead of enjoying for himself the first tangible results of his labor, the Torah demands that they be brought to Jerusalem and presented to a total stranger!
We learn from this that the very first and best of whatever a person possesses should be used for the purpose of tzedaka (charity).
Many people don’t find it too difficult to accept this principle when it comes to supporting religious institutions. They give willingly when asked to contribute to a synagogue or yeshiva.
But a strange thing occurs when it comes to giving tzedaka to a needy individual: “Why should I part with my hard-earned money to support him?” the Evil Inclination prompts us. “Why should his needs come before mine? Why must I part with the very best? Is not second best good enough? Better I should take care of myself first, and only afterward help others with whatever is left over.”
We learn, however, from the mitzva of bikurim, that such is not the Jewish way. We are commanded to give the first fruits to the kohen, an individual, for his own personal use. Only after this is done are we permitted to derive benefit from the blessings G-d has given us.
Significantly, the Torah commands us to bring the first fruits to the Holy Temple, “the house of the L-rd your G-d” in Jerusalem before presenting them to the kohen. A Jew must first understand that whatever wealth is granted him from Above is not truly his, despite the labor he may have invested to amass it.
When a Jew realizes that everything, in reality, belongs to G-d, the protests of the Evil Inclination are silenced, and it is far easier to part with the “first fruits” of one’s earnings even for another individual.
When a Jew acts in this manner, he can be assured of the blessing that Rashi speaks of in the verse that follows: “He who gives the kohen ‘the gifts that are coming to him … shall be blessed with great wealth.’ ” Moshiach NOW!!!