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Thursday, 4 December, 2014 - 12:22 pm

A little girl asked her mother for two dollars to give to an old lady in the park. Her mother was touched by the child's kindness and gave her the required sum.

"There you are my dear," said the mother. "I guess, she is too old to work?"
"Oh no," came the reply. "She sells ice cream."
This week's Torah portion Ki Tavo opens with a discussion of the Mitzvah of Bikkurim, the First Fruits. Upon the ripening of the first fruits of the season (any of the seven species associated with the Land of Israel) a farmer would fill a basket with the ripened fruits and bring them to Jerusalem, to the Temple in Jerusalem, and offer them as a gift to the Kohen, to declare thanks to G-d for the goodness He has bestowed upon the farmer.
Of course, at the time Moses tells all of this to the Jewish people, they were still sitting in the desert; without any fields of wheat or barley. Only when they finally entered Israel would this commandment be made effective.
The commentators question, obviously, you can’t bring Bikkurim if you do not possess and settle the land. You need to own an orchard in order to grow fruits and bring a basket of it to the Kohen. Why does the Torah have to add those words possess and settle?
The Jewish people had to wait to bring their fruits to the Temple and give thanks, not just until they had conquered and began to settle the land, but only until it had been entirely divided; until everyone else had received their piece of land fourteen years later.
The point of the First Fruits was for the farmer to take the bounty produced by his land, and give thanks to G-d for it, and to not appear to be ungrateful. Why couldn't I bring my Fruits yet, just to say a simple ‘Thank You’ till all people got their land first?
The Rebbe teaches us the Jewish people are one people, a single unit. As long a single Jewish person had not yet received, and settled, his own parcel of land, it was impossible for anyone to truly enjoy his own.
We are one nation, one family, and we are all in this together. If just one person,whoever it may be, remained unfulfilled, then we too, are incomplete.
The Mishnah says “All of Israel are guarantors for one another”
Ahavat Yisrael, loving one’s fellow as one’s self. But, in truth, they seem to set an impossibly high standard. How can I love you as I love myself? Why should I be your guarantor?
It was the Baal Shem Tov and the Alter Rebbe who presented the magnificent answer. If you really love me, then automatically I really love you. Because on a soul level, you and I are one. We share the same soul, only our bodies are divided.
If I only love my superficial self, my external self, my body, my garments, my job, my home, my car, my watch, my iPhone, then I look at you as a stranger. But when I fall in love with my deepest I, with my neshmaha-soul, with the Divine light within me, then naturally I love and cherish you too, because our soul is one. We have one large soul that has been dispersed in distinct bodies and countries.
The story is told of a man who bought a ticket to ride on a large ferry.
As he arrived to board the ship, he was disappointed to find that his seat was located far away from any of the windows.
Frustrated, he decided to go with the obvious option, and began banging away at the floor of the boat in order to drill a hole so he could see some of that lovely blue water. The alarmed sailors quickly stopped and seized the man, and hauled him before the captain, reporting exactly what the passenger had done.
“What in the blazes do you think you were doing?” demanded the furious captain.
“I was just trying to make a hole under my seat,” said the man, “after all, I paid for that seat with my own money - I should be able do whatever I want with it!”
“You fool,” said the captain. “If you make a hole in the ship, we will all sink.”
No, we can never be blind to the challenges and to the travesties that occur around us, and anywhere in the world. Remember, if you lose I lose. For me to win, I need you to win.
Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Yoseph Geisinsky
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