Israel Forever

For the week ending 20 September 2008 / 20 Elul 5768

First Things First

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
The declaration that a Jew made when he brought bikurim – first fruits and crops – to the Beit Hamikdash is familiar to every Jew who ever read the Hagadah at the Pesach Seder. The compact survey of Jewish history leading up to their entry into Eretz Yisrael serves as the outline of the relating of the Exodus story.

After mentioning the oppression of our ancestors in Egypt and the miraculous exodus from bondage, the Jew offering the bikurim joyously declares, "He then brought us to this place (the Beit Hamikdash) and gave us this Land, a Land flowing with milk and honey."

It is interesting to note the order of things in this declaration. First comes the mention of the Beit Hamikdash and then the Land. The Beit Hamikdash represents the spiritual dimension of the Land, while milk and honey symbolize its material dimension.

As Jews hear this declaration read in this week's Torah portion it is hoped that they will internalize the message that it is only an appreciation of its spiritual dimension that will secure Israel forever.

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