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The Systems of the Jewish Year

We Have Arrived in the Land

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

G-d created the world just so that we could come to Israel

We have just arrived in Israel looking forward to some fresh spiritual inspiration.

But it is very difficult to do so. How can we think about our soul when our body is in pain? The two sadistic bombings that took place this week in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv hit very close to home. It was painful enough sitting in Monsey reading CNN but to live here, and hear the sirens, and see the tears, is too much to bear.

So even though it’s before Rosh Hashanah, even though I walk the streets of Jerusalem, it is difficult, almost selfish, to think about how to grow spiritually when the body of Klal Yisroel is under siege.

Yet with great pride I can say that men and women on the streets of Jerusalem are not depressed. Life goes on at an amazing pace. The number 2 bus is full, and the stores are lined with American and French teenagers full of laughter and pride. We are a great people!

“Ki Savo - when you arrive in the Land”. We have arrived! God gave us a gift called Israel. He gave it to us once and because of our behavior He took it back. He gave it to us a second time and because of our mishigass He took it away. Now, He’s giving it to us for a third time! Once again - we have arrived!

What should we be saying to God when we arrive? This week’s parsha tells us. We should hold up our first fruits and declare:

“I have arrived in the Land which God swore to our forefathers to give to us. Our fathers moved to Egypt, few in number, and there we became a Nation - great, strong and numerous. The Egyptians mistreated us and afflicted us, and made us slaves. We cried to God and He saw our oppression. God took us out of Egypt with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm, with awesomeness, with signs and with wonders. He brought us here, to this place, He gave us this Land, a Land flowing with milk and honey, and here are the first fruits of that land that You have given me.”

Simply put: This Land is a gift from You. This gift is part of a historical process. We acknowledge, G-d, that this is Your Land. We acknowledge that it is a great spiritual treasure. We thank You, God, for bringing us here.

Rashi teaches us that from the moment God created the world - B’reishis - He was waiting for this moment of “Reishis Bikurim” bringing our first fruit before Him. No other sacrifice or tithe comes with such an elaborate proclamation or ceremony. But God waited 2500 years for a simple Jew from Petach Tikvah or Kfar Saba to come to Jerusalem with a basket full of grapes in his hand, to make the statement: “I have arrived! I understand what I am doing here! I understand how I got here!”

Reishis bishvil Reishis! G-d created the world just so that we could come to Israel.

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