How to Give

June 1, 2019 at 2:40 PM , , ,

“…Every raised-offering of all the holy things that the children of Israel bring to the kohen, it shall be his…” – Bamidbar 5:9

וְכָל תְּרוּמָה לְכָל קָדְשֵׁי בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר יַקְרִיבוּ לַכֹּהֵן לוֹ יִהְיֶה – במדבר ה, ט

Rashi explains that this verse comes to teach us that bikkurim are given to the kohen. Elsewhere (Shemos 23:19), the Torah instructs us to bring bikkurim, the first fruits of the season, to the Temple, but does not state what shall be done with the fruits afterward. The Torah therefore tells us now, “to the kohen, it shall be his”—the bikkurim are divided among the kohanim.

The Torah’s portrayal of bikkurim as a two-step process, first requiring us to bring the new fruits to the Mishkan or Beis Hamikdash, and then instructing us to leave them for the kohanim, teaches us the correct approach that we must have toward giving tzedakah.

How to Give

Bikkurim must be brought from fruits of the highest quality (see Rambam, Hilchos Bikkurim 2:3), whose cultivation and growing requires great effort and patience. The mitzvah to bring the very first of these fruits to the Temple demonstrates that when we chance upon an opportunity to give to charity, we must not consider how difficult it was for us to earn our money and thus hesitate to part with it. Rather, we should readily give the first and finest of our earnings toward a G-dly purpose, tzedakah.

The ultimate challenge, however, is not in contributing toward a holy or communal cause, but in giving the first of our earnings to the poor, for the personal benefit of another individual. Here one can rightfully argue, why is the next person more entitled to the first fruits of my labors than I am? I too am needy and deserving!

The mitzvah of bikkurim teaches us how to surmount this inner struggle: by bringing the new fruits to the Temple before giving them to the kohen. Figuratively, this means to regard the first of our earnings as funds that already belong to charity. The process must begin with “bringing the fruits to the Temple,” because the struggle of parting with our hard-earned money in favor of giving it to someone else exists only so long as we are parting with our possessions. Once we regard the funds as belonging to charity, keeping them for ourselves becomes much less of a consideration.

—Likutei Sichos, vol. 8, pp. 39-40


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