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Chumash      Rambam-Bikkurim

(5746) "Bikkurim (firstfruits) require a container. etc    When a person brings the first fruits in a metal container, the priest takes them and returns the container to its owner  If he brings them in a reed or grass basket or the like,  both the first fruits and the basket should be given to the priests. (Rambam Hil Bikkurim 3:7-8)
Four ways in the boundary of the obligation to giving the container to the priests;

The reason that "Bikkurim require a container" according to Pnimiyut


This week's Torah portion, Ki Tavo, opens with the commandment of bikurim - first fruits. "You shall put it in a basket... and the priest will take the basket out of your hand."

Closer study of the Torah's laws of bikurim reveals that the presentation of the basket (usually made out of wicker) to the kohen (priest) was an integral part of the commandment itself.

Interestingly, while the fruits that were brought were only the choicest, and only selected from the seven varieties with which the land of Israel is praised, the basket that was used for them was made of a common material.

This seeming contradiction in the commandment of bikurim contains an allusion to the descent of the soul from the higher spheres and its incarnation in a physical body down below.

The fruits of the bikurim are symbolic of the soul; the basket is the corporeal body. Handing the basket to the priest represents the purpose for which the soul made this drastic descent.

In general, the first fruits are symbolic of the Jewish people; more specifically, of the G-dly soul as it exists Above, completely transcendent of the physical world.

G-d's plan, however, is for this rarefied soul to become enclothed in a body, a coarse and lowly "vessel" which contains it, as it were.

This vessel makes it difficult for the soul to express its connection with G-d, even to the point of obscuring its true mission in the world. Again, just as in the commandment of bikurim, the holy and superior "fruit" is contained and even constrained within the confines of a simple and unpretentious "basket."

Chasidut provides the reason for this, explaining that the descent of the soul into a physical body is a "descent for the purpose of ascent": It is precisely through its sojourn on the physical plane, having to confront the difficulties of this world and overcome them, that the essence of the soul is revealed and a higher level of spirituality attained - much higher than could ever be reached without experiencing this descent in the first place.

In principle, "fruits" alone are not enough; the objective of the soul's descent is "fruits within a basket."

The soul's growth is accomplished through the performance of practical commandments, which can only be done with the help of the "vessel" - the physical body. For in truth, the soul was already filled with love and awe of G-d before it came down into the material world; the only change it experiences upon finding itself in a body is that it can now do physical commandments, something that was previously impossible. Thus the soul is rendered capable of elevating the physical world and turning it into holiness - the intent of all of creation. (http://www.lchaimweekly.org/lchaim/5762/733.htm)


The Torah portion Savo opens with the commandment of Bikkurim, the First Fruit offering that was brought in a basket called a ten and given to a kohen in the Beis HaMikdash. As described in the Mishnah,1 the basket was a simple one, made of peeled willow twigs. Both the basket and the First Fruits were given to the kohen.

Bikkurim is indicative of the finest and best; they were the first2 and choicest fruits,3 to be brought specifically from the “seven varieties for which Eretz Yisrael is lauded.”4 Bikkurim were to be brought only to the Beis HaMikdash, and the mitzvah applied only in Eretz Yisrael.5

Notwithstanding these rigorous laws, the First Fruits were brought in a basket which by its nature limited the amount.

How is it that the first and best fruits of Eretz Yisrael were to be limited by their container, and why was the basket of such simple quality?

In a spiritual sense, Bikkurim alludes to the Jewish people6 in general, and particularly to their souls as found with their source above7 — a level where spirituality precedes all else.8

Although the soul above is on such a high plane, it must descend and clothe itself within the “vessel” of a body which conceals and limits its bond with G‑d.

While this descent is indeed great, it serves a vital purpose: Through its descent, the soul is able to attain a level of spirituality that it could not attain otherwise.9 For this descent reveals the soul’s choicest aspect — how it is truly one, as it were, with G‑d Himself.10

Just as this is so regarding the soul’s descent, so too with regard to the Jews’ service in this world: The ultimate purpose of our spiritual service is achieved not so much through the attainment of love and fear of G‑d,11 as by the performance of practical good deeds.12

By performing mitzvos that involve even the lowest parts of the human organism, a person causes his entire body to become a fitting receptacle for the sanctity of his soul. This in turn elevates the soul to its loftiest state.

The reason for this is similar to the explanation as to why G‑d created different levels in the spiritual worlds and the physical one.

The Alter Rebbe explains13 that the purpose of the chain-like downward succession of worlds is not for the sake of the higher worlds. Rather, the purpose is this lowest world. By having this world transformed into a dwelling place for G‑d’s essence, a tremendous elevation is achieved in the higher spiritual worlds as well.14

The same is true with regard to the soul: It is specifically through its descent within the body that it is able to transform this world into a dwelling place for G‑d. Within the world itself, this is achieved by elevating even its lowest aspects through the performance of practical mitzvos.

By dint of this service, the soul attains a level of spirituality and closeness to G‑d that is even greater than it enjoyed prior to its descent— it achieves the level of spiritual Bikkurim by vesting itself in the simplest of vessels, the body.

The same is true with regard to the performance of the mitzvah of Bikkurim: The ultimate elevation of the First Fruits — accomplished by bringing them to the Beis HaMikdash — is reflected in the fact that they are brought and given together with a simple vessel of willow twigs.

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXIX, pp. 150-152 https://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/4289584/jewish/Savo-A-Basket-of-Bikkurim.htm

1.    Bikkurim 3:8.
2.    Devarim 26:2 and commentaries of Rashi, Seforno, et al. See also Menachos 84b; Sifri beginning of this Torah portion; Yerushalmi, Bikkurim 1:3.
3.    Rambam, Hilchos Bikkurim 2:3.
4.    Ibid., 2:2.
5.    Ibid., 2:1.
6.    Zohar, Vol. III, p. 253a. See also Bereishis Rabbah beginning of ch. 46; Zohar, Vol. II, p. 121a.
7.Or HaTorah, Savo 1033ff., 1039ff.
8.    See Bereishis Rabbah 1:4.
9.    See Likkutei Torah, Bamidbar, p. 2a ff.; Re’eh 25a, 27a ff.
10.    See Hemshech 5666 p. 491ff., p. 502ff.
11.    See Tanya, conclusion of ch. 40.
12.    See Igros Kodesh, Rebbe Rayatz, Vol. III, p. 305; Iggeres HaKodesh, conclusion of Epistle 20.
13.    Tanya ch. 36.
14.    See Sefer HaMaamarim 5643, p. 35ff.





Gutnick Chumash pp. 150ff
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