Gratitude for God, the Spiritual Caretakers, the Land and Family Bank
By: Rabbi Barak Bar-Chaim
Parshat Ki Tavo begins with the Mitzvah of Bikurim, which is the Mitzvah to bring the first fruits of the new crops to the Kohanim in the temple in Jerusalem. This Mitzvah is one of the few Mitzvoth in which we are commanded to make a verbal declaration. The Torah states: “And you shall come to the kohen who will be serving in those days, and say to him, “I declare this day to the Lord, your God, that I have come to the land which the Lord swore to our forefathers to give us.” And the kohen will take the basket from your hand, laying it before the altar of the Lord, your God.” And you shall call out and say before the Lord, your God, “An Aramean sought to destroy my forefather, and he went down to Egypt and sojourned there with a small number of people, and there, he became a great, mighty, and numerous nation…”
There are three important observations in the above verses. Firstly notice that there are two verbal declarations, one to the Kohen(Priest) and one to God. Upon his declaration to the Kohen, Rashi comments that the declaration must be made before the Kohen to make known to him that you (the farmer) recognize the good that has been bestowed upon you. It appears to me that the idea here is that one recognizes that the spiritual leadership of the nation contributes to the blessing that God bestows upon the nation’s citizens. Therefore the farmer thanks both God and the Kohanim (Spiritual Caretakers) for the blessings he receives.
The second observation is that this Mizvah teaches us that when it comes to gratitude, feeling gratitude in one’s heart is not sufficient. One must express ones gratitude verbally and clearly state “I thank you for ….” And finally we learn from these verses the special gratitude we should have for the gift of the Land of Israel.
Friends, Reuven Blank has served our congregation as co-founder, president and supporter. His heart has always been in the East, in our Holy Land, and he has decided together with his dear wife Natalie to join their children and grandchildren in the land of Israel. I know that you join me in extending our gratitude to Reuven and Natalie for their many years of dedicated service and commitment to New Synagogue of Palm Beach. We are truly grateful for all you have done for our congregation, and grateful to God for bestowing you upon our congregation. May God bless you and further deepen your gratitude for our holy land, Eretz Yisrael.