written by Natalie Newman - 6th grade

September 23, 2016
20 Elul 5776

What is the best way to give appreciation?

In this week's parsha we see how the Jewish people were required to bring the first fruits to the Temple בית המקדש to demonstrate their gratitude towards Hashem 'ה.

וְלָֽקַחְתָּ֞ מֵֽרֵאשִׁ֣ית | כָּל־פְּרִ֣י הָֽאֲדָמָ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֨ר תָּבִ֧יא מֵֽאַרְצְךָ֛ אֲשֶׁ֨ר ה' אֱלֹקיךָ נֹתֵ֥ן לָ֖ךְ וְשַׂמְתָּ֣ בַטֶּ֑נֶא וְהָֽלַכְתָּ֙ אֶל־הַמָּק֔וֹם אֲשֶׁ֤ר יִבְחַר֙ ה' אֱלֹקיךָ לְשַׁכֵּ֥ן שְׁמ֖וֹ שָֽׁם:

You shall take of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you will bring from your land, which Hashem, your God, is giving you. And you shall put [them] into a basket and go to the place which Hashem, your God, will choose to have His Name dwell there.

In ancient times when the Beit Hamikdash (Temple) was still standing, the B’nai Yisrael (sons of Israel) were commanded to show their appreciation to Hashem by doing a number of things.

  1. They needed to bring the Bikurim (first fruits) to the Beit Hamikdash, which often meant weeks of travel to Jerusalem.  

  2. When the Bikurim were brought there, the owner needed to say a special Tefillah (prayer) of thanks, reflecting on how Hashem took the Jewish nation out of Egypt.

The Tefillah starts in the singular, changes to the plural, and then back to the singular, in order to indicate the individual's personal connection to the history of the nation. This memory of the exodus is one we share as a nation. One must not simply offer their thanks but must live with gratitude, as well.

In our everyday lives, we have many reasons to offer thanks. Sometimes it is on those special occasions when we recognize that in order to truly appreciate the richness in our lives, we must reflect on how we got to that point.

When I found out I was going to New York to visit family, I was the most happy I have ever been. I was going to meet my new baby cousin! I kept thanking my parents for the trip. Clearly this was a reason to be thankful but when I got to New York it meant so much. Saying “thank you” to my parents meant so much more to me, because then I better understood what it took to get me there.

In order to truly have appreciation, one needs to enter.  
Reflect on the good and be “in the moment”!

Shabbat Shalom.