This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmos
Vol. 22 No. 46
Sroel ben Yosef z"l
Feivel ben Leibel z"l
And Freda bas Moshe z"l
Parshas Ki Savo
(Adapted from the Ramban)
"Then you shall take from the first of the fruit of the ground which you shall bring that Hashem your G-d gave to you from your land; you shall place it in a basket and go to the location that Hashem your G-d will choose to rest His Name there" (26:2).
The Torah is teaching us here, says the Ramban, that one should designate fruit (of the special species for which Eretz Yisrael is praised), whilst it is still in the field and declare it Bikurim. One then brings it home and places it in a basket which is fitting to take to the Beis-ha'Mikdash (a wealthy man would place it in a golden basket, a poor man, in a wickerwork one).
The Torah does not specify how much one must designate.Consequently, like T'rumah, which min ha'Torah, requires just one grain to be given to the Kohen, even one fig or one grape, will cover the entire crop. Bear in mind that the Torah calls Bikurim "T'rumah".
When the Torah obligates bringing Bikurim to the "location that G-d will choose", it does not mean that prior to Shiloh and Yerushalayim, the Mitzvah of Bikurim did not apply - since it came into effect as soon as they entered Eretz Yisrael (as Rashi explains). What it means is that, once Shiloh/the Beis-ha'Mikdash is built, it can no longer be brought anywhere else, as was the case up until then.
The Sifri explains "the location that Hashem will choose" to mean Shiloh and the Beis-ha'Mikdash, as we explained. This comes to preclude a Bomas Yachid (a private altar), which became forbidden during those two periods. It does not necessarily mean that they did not bring Bikurim on the Bomas Tzibur which they built in Nov and Giv'on (between the Mishkan in Shiloh and the Beis-ha'Mikdash in Yerushalayim). This is because, although there was no building in Nov and Giv'on, there was a Mizbe'ach - the sole criterion that is required as far as Bikurim is concerned (See Pasuk 4). This seems to be the opinion of the Rambam in Hilchos Beis ha'Bechirah 1:1).
Alternatively, the author points out, it may well be that they did not bring Bikurim in Nov and Giv'on, since there was no house there, and the Torah does write "you shall bring to the House of Hashem your G-d".
The following Pasuk obligates bringing the Bikurim "to the Kohen who will be in those days", which Rashi explains to mean that one must give the Bikurim to whichever Kohen lives at that time, irrespective of his level.
That D'rashah makes sense when applied to a Judge, who may not be as learned as the judges in the time of Moshe Rabeinu (as Chazal Darshen 'Yiftach in his generation like Shmuel in his generation'). But what sense does it make with regard to a Kohen? Why would one think that one should not give one's Bikurim, just because he is not as learned as the Kohanim who lived in earlier generations?
The Ramban therefore explains that one should give the Bikurim to the Kohanim of the Mishmar (group) that happens to be serving in the Beis-ha'Mikdash at that time, to preclude bringing one's own Kohen from one's home-town to whom to give one's Bikurim.
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(Adapted from the Ramban)
Ma'aser Sheini & Neta R'vai
"I did not eat from it whilst I was an Onein, nor did I burn it be'Tum'ah or allot some of it for a corpse" (26:14).
Although the Dinim specified in the previous Pasuk (which also discusses aspects of Viduy Ma'asros) apply to all Ma'asros, the Ramban quotes Rashi as saying that the current Pasuk refers exclusively to Ma'aser Sheini (which is Kodosh) and to Neta R'vai, which is compared to Ma'aser Sheini. He disagrees with Rashi's next comment however - which interprets 'allotting some of it for a corpse' as a prohibition against purchasing a coffin and shrouds. And his objection is based on the implication that one may use it to purchase clothes and the like on behalf of a live person, when in fact, one may only use Ma'aser Sheini (or Ma'aser Sheini money) as food (as we learned above in Re'ei, 14:26), or for anointing, which Chazal equate with drinking.
Interestingly, the Ramban quotes a Sifri, which cites Rebbi Eliezer, with whom Rashi's explanation concurs, and Rebbi Akiva, who poses the same question on Rashi as he did.
The author cites commentaries who resolve the above question by explaining that the Torah prohibits using the Ma'aser Sheini even to purchase shrouds for a dead person, which is a Mitzvah, how much more so if it is not for a Mitzvah - even if it is for a live person.
After more discussion on the current D'rashah, the Ramban concludes by citing a Mishnah in Ma'aser Sheini (5:12). The Tana, commenting on the current Pasuk, states 'I did not purchase with it a coffin and shrouds' (like Rebbi Eliezer), but adds 'nor did I give it to other On'nim' - which the Ramban explains to mean that he did not give it to be used for the corpse itself (reference to a coffin and shouds), nor to be used to feed the On'nim. The real Chidush being the latter statement (which pertains exclusively to the dead person) and not to the former (which is forbidden to a live person anyway).
" … and bless your people Yisrael and the land that You gave to us, as You swore to our fathers, a land flowing with milk and honey" (26:15).
In answer to the question that when speaking to the Avos, G-d never described Eretz Yisrael as 'a land flowing with milk and honey', the Ramban (in his alternative answer) explains that "our fathers" in this instance, refers, not to the forefathers, but to our ancestors who left Egypt (See Parshas Chukas, 20:15) to whom He did.
Based on this Ramban, the commentary, citing the Mar'eh Panim, resolves a seeming Halachic discrepancy. On the one hand, a Ger is subject to the Dinim of Bikurim - even with regard to reading the Parshah which describes Eretz Yisrael as "the land that G-d gave to our fathers", since Avraham Avinu is labelled 'the father of a multitude of nations', as the acronym of his name suggests. Whilst on the other, the same Ger is not subject to recite the Parshah of Viduy Ma'asros, seeing as he cannot say "like You swore to our fathers". Why do we not say there too, that Avraham is considered his father, like we do by Bikurim?
According to the Ramban that we just cited however, the problem is solved - since "our fathers" in the Parshah of Viduy Ma'asos, does not pertain to the Avos, but to our ancestors who left Egypt; and they are certainly not considered the fathers of the Ger.
Torah on Stones
"And you shall write on them, all the words of this Torah … clearly written (ba'er heitev)" (27:3 & 8).
The Ramban disagrees with the I'bn Ezra, who quoting R. Sa'adya Ga'on, explains that the Taryag Mitzvos were inscribed on the twelve stones that they set up at Har G'rizim and Har Eival - like the Seifer Halachos Gedolos, and who translates "ba'er heitev" as above.
Citing the Gemara in Sotah (Daf 8a), the Ramban interprets "ba'er heitev" to mean in seventy languages. And citing an authentic text, he explains that the stones contained the entire Torah, including the various crowns that adorn some of the letters ('the tagin and the ziyunin'). For them to have done this, he explains, either the stones were extremely large or it was the result of a miracle.
And what's more, he adds, it is from those stones that they subsequently copied the crowns (and not from the Seifer-Torah that Moshe Rabeinu wrote!?).
Torah & Eretz Yisrael
" … in order that you will come to the land that Hashem is giving to you …" (Ibid.)
Here too, the Ramban disagrees with the I'bn Ezra, who explains that if you will begin to keep the Mitzvos, of which this is the first upon entry into Eretz Yisrael, then G-d will help you to take the whole of Eretz Yisrael.
According to the Ramban, what the Pasuk means is that writing the Torah on the stones is a means of reminding Yisrael that they are only being given Eretz Yisrael on condition that they keep the Torah.
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