Friday, September 16, 2022

bikurim, nachala, and kinyan peiros

 וְהָיָה֙ כִּֽי־תָב֣וֹא אֶל־הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁר֙ הֹ׳ אֱלֹקיךָ נֹתֵ֥ן לְךָ֖ נַחֲלָ֑ה  Chazal tell us that  וְהָיָה֙ at the start of a parsha connotes simcha.  The simcha here is not the fact that the first crops are ready, but, as the Ohr haChaim writes, להעיר שאין לשמוח אלא בישיבת הארץ, the simcha is from the fact that we have Eretz Yisrael.  

The Sifri writes that by fulfilling the words of our parsha, the parsha of bikurim, you will be zocheh to yeshivas ha'aretz (see here). The mitzvah of bikurim can only be done only after you are already in Eretz Yisrael and are harvesting crops there.  How then can Chazal say that it's because of this mitzvah that we will enter the land?

A couple of years ago I quoted from R' Teichtel's Eim haBanim Smeicha: 

Ki tavo'u el Eretz Canann asher ani nosein lachem l'nachala v'nasati nega tzara'as b'veis eretz achuzaschem (14:35).  A strange promise!  Once we finally merit seeing Hashem's promise to give us the land fulfilled, the Torah tells us that our homes will be plagued with leprosy.  Why?  What did we do to deserve that?  (see Rashi)

Rav Teichtel in his classic Eim haBanim Smeicha interprets the pasuk derech derush as saying that if after G-d is "nosein lachem nachala" and gives us a homeland, we still think of the 5 Towns, Boro Park, Englewood, Teaneck, or even Lakewood, NJ as "home," then "v'nasati nega tzara'as," I will bring tzara'as and tzaros to "beis achuzaschem," that place in galus you still mistakenly think of as home.  Sometimes unfortunately we need a wakeup call, a little suffering and discomfort, to appreciate and recognize where home is.

Eretz Yisrael is our nachala, our homeland.  Everyplace else in the world is just a hotel.  

Chasam Sofer uses this same idea to explain the Sifri. Thinking of  Eretz Yisrael as our nachala, as our homeland, doesn't start just when we get there.  Thinking of Eretz Yisrael as our nachala is the precursor to our getting there.  We can't bring bikruim in galus, but we can recognize that Eretz Yisrael, not wherever in the world we find ourselves, is the one place  אֲשֶׁר֙ הֹ׳ אֱלֹקיךָ נֹתֵ֥ן לְךָ֖ נַחֲלָ֑ה.  If we adopt that attitude, then we will be zocheh to physically be able to fulfill the mitzvah.

Notice the repetition throughout our parsha:

וְהָיָה֙ כִּֽי־תָב֣וֹא אֶל־הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁר֙ הֹ׳ אֱלֹקיךָ נֹתֵ֥ן לְךָ֖ נַחֲלָ֑ה

וְלָקַחְתָּ֞ מֵרֵאשִׁ֣ית׀ כׇּל־פְּרִ֣י הָאֲדָמָ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֨ר תָּבִ֧יא מֵֽאַרְצְךָ֛ אֲשֶׁ֨ר הֹ׳ אֱלֹקיךָ נֹתֵ֥ן לָ֖ךְ

 וּבָאתָ֙ אֶל־הַכֹּהֵ֔ן אֲשֶׁ֥ר יִהְיֶ֖ה בַּיָּמִ֣ים הָהֵ֑ם וְאָמַרְתָּ֣ אֵלָ֗יו הִגַּ֤דְתִּי הַיּוֹם֙ לַ הֹ׳ אֱלֹקיךָ כִּי־בָ֙אתִי֙ אֶל־הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֨ר נִשְׁבַּ֧ע ה׳ לַאֲבֹתֵ֖ינוּ לָ֥תֶת לָֽנוּ

Again and again the parsha reminds us that Eretz Yisrael is the homeland that Hashem promised to us. 

Why do we mention the story of Lavan harassing Yaakov when we bring bikurim?  Malbim reminds us of the Midrash: ועז״א ארמי אובד אבי דכתב המדרש מה שהיה ללבן כח להתאבק כ״כ עם יעקב הוא משום שהוא בח״ל והיה בידו חטא מה שאינו דר בא״י  How could a rasha like Lavan have any power over the bechir ha'Avos?  The Midrash tells us that it's because Yaakov was outside Eretz Yisrael, where he belonged, where his homeland was.   

The Midrash Tanchuma writes that Moshe foresaw that we will be in galus and would not be able to fulfill the mitzvah of bikruim so he instituted tefilah 3x a day.  What's the connection between bikruim and tefilah? (see here, here, and here) When a person davens, he/she must turn to face Eretz Yisrael, to face the Beit HaMikdash.  If it's not possible to physically face that direction, he/she has to turn their heart to Eretz Yisrael.  If we cannot physically bring bikurim to give thanks for the nachala of Eretz Yisrael, we can year to do so, we can remind ourselves 3x a day about the importance and centrality of Eretz Yisrael.

Tos in Gittin (48) puts two halachos together an asks a great kashe: In order to read the parsha of bikurim you have to own the land the produce grew on.  The gemara has a machlokes R"Y and Reish Lakish whether kinyan peiros is k'kinyan ha'guf or not, and we pasken like Reish Lakish, that it is not.  Someone who only has a kinyan peiros cannot read the parsha of bikurim.  We also pasken that brothers who divide up a yerusha are considered lekuchos --- the inherited land is theirs only as a kinyan peiros until the yovel, at which point it reverts to the estate and has to be re-divided.   הקשה רבינו תם ואנו איך מצאנו ידינו ורגלינו!  How can anyone then ever read the parsha of bikurim?  Unless a property was passed from father to his only son generation after generation from the time of Yehoshua, every piece of land was either bought or inherited by a group of brothers and everyone's kinyan in the land of Eretz Yisrael is only a kinyan peiros? 

The Rishonim answer (see Tos 48a, Rashba, see Malbim on our parsha as well) that yerushas Eretz Yisrael is different.  Eretz Yisrael is ours because it is the land promised to the Avos, it is the land those who left Mitzrayim were supposed to conquer.  The farmer who brings bikurim states כִּי־בָ֙אתִי֙ אֶל־הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֨ר נִשְׁבַּ֧ע ה׳ לַאֲבֹתֵ֖ינוּ לָ֥תֶת לָֽנוּ.  The land being an inheritance does not diminish our ownership claim and turn it into a kinyan peiros.  Aderaba, viz a viz bikurim, it defines and strengthens our claim and connection to the land.

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