"When you come to the land... you shall take from the first of every fruit... You are to place it in a basket... and you shall come to the priest... and he shall place it before the altar of G‑d, your G‑d.""
Deut. 26:1-4

This passage refers to the mitzvah of bikurim (the "first fruits"). The Land of Israel is distinguished by seven species of produce: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. The very first produce of these are to be brought as an offering to the kohanim (priests) who serve in the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple in Jerusalem). With this offering of first fruits one expresses gratitude to G‑d for all one's blessings, thus performing this mitzvah with great joy.

There are two approaches to the performance of a mitzvah: (1) one may do so with but minimal effort and involvement, barely enough to fulfill the obligation; or (2) one may do so with a sense of love and dedication, with full willingness to observe it in the most excelling manner. In this second way, one is fully immersed in the mitzvah to do it with one's most precious possessions.

Here lies the uniqueness of the mitzvah of bikurim: the farmer brings to the kohen the choicest produce. The very first fruits of man's labor are most precious to him, yet he overcomes his personal desires, to offer them to the kohanim.

The mitzvah of bikurim will be restored with the coming of Moshiach. We are presently at the threshold of the redemption, thus we must prepare ourselves for the observance of this mitzvah. This preparation is possible by already fulfilling this mitzvah in a spiritual sense:

Every Jew must regard himself as being "first fruits." This means that with respect to every one of his deeds or utterances, and even his thoughts, one must see to it that they be not only correct but excelling in quality. Every deed must be of the finest sort, and so, too, one's speech and thoughts.

This applies not only in the context of Torah and mitzvot. Any sort of involvement, even the mundane actions of a simple weekday, must be sublimated and elevated to become bikurim. This is achieved by following the instruction of our sages: "Let all your deeds be for the sake of heaven!" (Avot 2:12)

For as long as the redemption has not yet been realized, the mitzvah of bikurim can be observed in this manner. When a Jew regards himself as bikurim, he can visualize himself as if at that very moment he is actually standing in the Beit Hamikdash, facing the kohanim, and offering his basket of bikurim.

Our efforts in offering bikurim in this manner will bring about the Messianic redemption and the observance of the mitzvah of bikurim in its literal sense.

Living With Moshiach
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