There is a mitzvah of simchah in connection to bikkurim: ”ושמחת בכל הטוב אשר נתן לך ד‘,” And you shall rejoice in all the good Hashem your G-d has given you. If Hashem gives a person all his needs and he comes to the בית המקדש with his bikkurim, of course he will be happy! If a person is poor and has no bikkurim, and would be unhappy, he is פטור from the mitzvah. So who is charged with this mitzvah?
Rabbi Asher Zelig Rubenstein זצ"ל offers the following moshol: A farmer owns a few acres of land, works throughout the year and is happy as he harvests a bountiful crop to feed his family. Before he can take advantage of that crop, the Torah tells him to take his bikkurim to Yerushalayim. The farmer packs his bags, saddles his donkey, puts a few loaves and a few clusters of grapes in a big basket as bikkurim and heads to Yerushalayim in a state of simchah.
Our farmer travels along the main highway to Yerushalayim with others bringing their bikkurim. He notices huge carriages laden with grapes as big as plums and with huge loaves of bread. All of it belongs to one wealthy man, who owns hundreds of acres and whose עבדים did all the work. The farmer looks down at his small bag of grapes, and now he’s not so happy anymore. It’s the same bag, nothing has changed, but now that he has seen what someone else has, his simchah is replaced by jealousy.
Rav Rubenstein explains that this is the essence of the mitzvah of “rejoicing in the good that Hashem has given us.” Whatever a person needs, Hashem gives him. We introduce sadness into our lives when we start to compare ourselves to others. Other people may be wealthier, more physically capable, or more intelligent than us. The problem begins when we start to live by comparison. Jealousy stands in the way because otherwise we would recognize the obvious: Hashem gives us everything we need.
I always emphasize to the children that there are lessons to be learned from every mitzvah, even if we personally do not observe them, such as bikkurim. The posuk ושמחת בכל הטוב pertains to all of us. If we keep it in mind, our lives will be different and our children will learn to adopt the same outlook.
Rabbi Gidon Goldberg
Head of School