Thursday, September 14.1989 — THE BULLETIN — 7r
Both the farmer and the Seder participant are bidden to Cirlflllin I^HIldiPIIIII^ fil T :9lftflf^k remember Egypt. If a slave, suffering in the hot sun, mixing ^1001111 bUIIUCiilild P. i - aiMl^^
Kl TAVO - FIRST FRUITS ^
' EFRAT, Israel — BACK IN NEW YORK I didnVknow too nmny people who grew grapes in the backyard,;buteven if they had, it*s unlikely that a rabbi would have been invited to their homes for a ceremony called the *netarevaii, "the fourth planting, a name that refersto the law of or/a which forbids eating the fruit of a tree during the first three years of its cultivation; and calls for bringing the fourth year fruits to Jerusalem.
When the Temple still stood, fruits of the fourth year, the neto re Vaiif, were either brought to Jerusalem or their value redeemed and the money spent in Jerusalem.
Today, in Israel, the fruits ofthe fourth planting are redeemed with a coin, similar to the coin used for the^redeniptioh^bf ^offerings* a^n^ miusser) which also must be
remold before we can eat from the fruits '
Thelaws 6f or£sr^ ^11^ ahdMolser make it clc^ that ea^ ^kosher* can apply to miich more than just meat; but the first and foremost requirement • in the Torah concerainjg fruit produce was the special, annual ceremohy called ^//USrfirlm> the 'bringing of the first frtiits*tb Jerusalem, which is how this week*s portion
"When you come toihe land vyou:sha/l bring the first qfever^^ earth produced by your hihd thai (S'd your L-rd is givingyoiLYoumustpl&ci^^^ in a basket, aiui bring ittd ihesite^that G-d willchooseX t:" 0eut.26J'2) - '
Maimoiiides, (1135-1204) in }m Guide to thePerplexed, Pdrt3, Cli; J9/clarifies that the law of *bikkurim*is intended to strengthen our absolute fealty to G-d by tei^ching us the basic lesson that everything is a gift from G-d.
The Akedath Yitzchak, Rabbi Yitzchak Araina (!420-I494y goes a step further in his comment on the verse, "Andyoushali take (of all the fruit of the earth, which you shdll bring in from your land which G'd has given you. "(Deut. 26:2/
He explains that iiiitially the torah refers to "your land" because we often take it for granted that the land is burs, but immediately the tiext corrects bur misconception by pointing out that this is the land . .which G-d has givenyqu."
Accepting the idea of this land as a gift from G-d prevents us from strutting with oyerwhelming pride. The laiid is only in our care, a riklbn of tenant farmers, an^ the Lord ofthe land is the L-rd Himself.
Understanding that the land is a gift humbles us. Furthermore, if I internalize the feeling that everything I have is a jgift from G-d, I don't really expect anything, and an'attitude that the world owes me something will change. Vm grateful for what I have, and not embittered by what I lack. By looking at the world as a gift and not as a right, I mature.
Taking this a step further, when we realize th^t everything we possess, even life itself, is a gift, it*s easier to give up things when and if that becomes necessary.
Fye written in the past about 'grasping the world with open arms.' Why open? To be ready, if necessary, to let go. If we grab the world with closed arms, and our limbs ha Vie atrophied, the letting-go process may prove unbearably painful. In the end, we all let gb. But sbme do" if gently, and othei^gasj) in piain, grasping tb the end.^ ' -r ^ . :
Brihgiiil the *first fruits' kept alive our commitment to the land as an eternal gift from GkI; it taught us not to be prideful, but perhaps most important, it taught a sinii)le, inescapable truth — all that we have, all that we are, is a gift from G-d which in the end we musttetiim to G-d.
Also, we should not think that bringing the first fruits was a burden on the people. On the contrary, it was a joyous event, we find richly described details in Chapter three cfMishna Mdairii>i:'r\\:'-:--.y
The farmers from the smaller towns, bringing with them the first grapes and figs, would gather and spend-the night in the open area of the town from where the maamad (delegation) would be sent forth. r '
Before theni went an ox, its horns entwined with gold and wreaths of olive-branches and leaves on its head, and an accompanying flute played until the farmers began' to draw near to Jerusalem, and the most impbrtant Jerusalemites came out to greettheni.;:-;'^:^; '-.f■ ■ ^i?&3as^-^/.y;^-?-/c^^^^
We moderns, accustpmed to the miracles of refrigeration, tend to look at the vast array of produce available all year joiind as a simple fact of lifel In the process, we lose cognizance of hew the farmers bf Israel miiist have felt with the spontaneous appearance bf the first fruits^ the vines laden.with grapes, the ripening figsv the pomegranates blbbmin^ from the recent buds.
It was a miracle, an auspicious moment for the farmers, and their joy was boiindless, contagious. They came to Jerusalem, like heroes from thenars, flute music in the air, a far cry from a convention of wholesalers.^
After arriving at the temple, those bringing the fruit baskets would read a selection of verses from this week's portioni begin-mng with "A wanderer^ ."(26:5) and ending
mortar and brick, and hauling, it day in and day out, could dream an auspicious and audacious dream for himself, or his descendants, he would have dreamt of fertile soil and rich crops, sitting in the shade of his own fig tree, tasting the sweetness of his own pomegranate j nice ^ theexact opposite of his daily reality.
V Richmond member of Parliament Tom Siddon has condemned the desecration last month of Beth Tikvah as a "vile and mindless action (that) is an affront to each and every one of us."
In an open letter to Beth Tikvah Congregation deli-
And didn't this dream coihe true, evidenced by the *first-fruit' ceremony, and the acknowledgeinent of the farmer to his ancestor in Egypt? And on the Seder night; illustrated in part by the verses from the ceremony of the; 'first-fruits,' we reinforce the transformation of a slave on foreign soil to a farmer on his own vered to The Bulletin, Cana-land, harvesting the treasured seven species. da's fisheries and oceans min-
But even mbre, the chanting of this verse from the Tirst-fruit' ister added: "Such destructive ceremony in the Haggadah, this gift from G-d calls to mind the action as we other gift from G.-d sitting with us iat the table. The Seder theme expe rieiiced of slaveryintb freedom is augmented by the theme of how this recently is knowledge is passed on. / intolerable;
The form ofthe Sederis really a dialogue, first an historicone and I am sure between a remote past and an immediate present, but also a the people of dialogue between the generations of at the tables On this night R»c h m o n d we reenact the process of Jewish survival, signified by the abun- share my dis-dance^of key moments children share in the Seder.
Just as we learned from the 'first-fruitt ceremony that every^ thing isa gift, during the Seder night we come to understand that our children, our first-fruits, are also a gift from G-d. We are not the owners. And the message is that children cannot be controlled or coerced; they ihust be taught and inspired — as we witness at the Seder, y- y'-'-; J;'' .
The generations survive^ and I'm siire that this is in no small measure bcicaiise of many siich dialogues between parents and children. Only last \yeek ah opportunity arose to attend SL*neta reyflii'ceremony in Efrat, and along with other neighbors, after the redemptibn with a coin and a blessing, we tasted the sweet grapes from the hew vines.
Even a city boy like I cbuld feel that we were moyihgcloserto theday when we'd again be bringing our'first-fruits' to the Holy Temple in Jeriisaleni; May it b in our time.
gious freedom," Siddon added. "The Government of Canada places the highest priority on tolerance and compassion, and this recent incident in Richmond should serve to strengthen our commitment to these values."
Gov't of Canada
gust and join meindenoun- SIDDON eing this incident; . VJ%xtend my deepest regrets:
"Cahidiani' have Jilway^^ been proud of bur rich aiid diverse nmlticulturalhc^tajge,^^ and our support for the right of all Canadians' to practise their beliefs and live in reli-
3 month rate as bf Sept. 5„ rates subject to change. Minimum $10,000
Rates hegqtiabte for y.:.. srifiailer ampuhts.
Walwyn Stod^li Cobhmn SAuiTflyllfnitecs:
Rabbi Shlomo Riskin is Chief Rabbi of Efrat; Israel and Dean ofthe Ohr Torah Institutions.
i I I I I ■
Israel-based charitable organization wishes to purchase State of Israel Bonds issued prior to 1936.
Highest cash prices in U,S. or; Canadian dollars payable within one week.
I Call (604) 438-5774 — Phyllis
The opening Lions Gate Vancouver B'nai B'rith lodge general meeting of the season will be at B'nai B!rith Manor, 1260 Howe street bn Monday Sept. 18, 8 p.m.
Local film producer Roy Hayter will be the guest speaker. He directed many films cpmmerciaily and f^^ CBC. His lecture is open to all members and friends.
OUR FOUNDER OUR FIRST LEADER OURGOLDA
Starting Sept, 18, a professional development program for women in non traditionjal^ areas of employment will be sponsored by Women's Secretariat of the Ministry of Advanced Education and Job Training; and Teknos Career Institute.
This program is specially designed to help immigrant and visible minority women, clustered in lb^y paying jobs, with limited opportuffl access vocational trainirig, little or nb Canadian work experience, and determination to improve their lives through formal training in non-traditional areas of employment. -
The Program will provide women with opportunities to develop and improve their abilities, so they: can bffejr^a broader range of skills^ and help them find a better job. Training is also designed to heIp \yomen reaIizei their potential and gain a ;• better understanding of the alternatives available to them in the Canadian Job Market.
Some day care is provided. ■ For information phone 872-3292.
with, "And now behold I have brought the first fruit of the land Rlnnm ffmi«< inmiKPI that G'd has given me^.f (26:10) the verses in between DIOOm grOWS in RlUbCUm recounting briefly the journey from Egypt to this very moment in the Temple, thie blessed fruits about to be set down.
ThCsignificance (if the *6i*A:wrim'^ helps lis understand why the verses the farmer was commanded to recite when he arrived at the temple became part of the Passover Haggadah. : *
PHILADELPHIA — Margo Bloom was named director of the National Museum of American Jewish History, succeeding Ephraim Weinberg. .: . jia
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