הרב זכריה טובי
The mitzvah of bikkurim appears in Parshat Ki-Tavo (Devarim 26:2):
You shall take the first of every fruit of the ground that you bring in from your Land that Hashem, your G-d, gives you, and you shall put it in a basket (tene) and go to the place that Hashem, your G-d, will choose, to make His Name rest there.
Ba'al Haturim writes (26:4):
Tene (basket) in gematriya is sixty, an allusion to bikkurim that is one-sixtieth. Therefore, [the letter] samech is omitted from the parsha of bikkurim.
The words of the Ba'al Haturim are confounding! If tene alludes to one-sixtieth, which is the percentage of bikkurim, why is the letter samech omitted from the portion of bikkurim? It would seem that precisely because of this reason, there is a need to mention the letter samech, to allude to the percentage of bikkurim.
What does the letter samech symbolize? The shape of the letter is round; it has no beginning and no end. This alludes to the heretical perspective, which claims that that the world was not made by a Creator; the world always existed and operates based on Nature, which predestined processes; there is no hand guiding the world, there is no justice and no judge.
However, we believe that G-d created His world, He "renews every day in his goodness the work of Creation," and there is no place void of Him. G-d created the world ex-nihilo, and there is a beginning and an end to the world. Olam is from the word he'elem; G-d hides Himself, as it were, in the natural process.
However, there is a ray of light, and that is Israel: "This nation that I fashioned for Myself that they might declare My praise." (Yeshaya 43:21) Am Yisrael's role is to reveal G-d's existence in the Creation, and they are the "first" of Creation, as Rashi writes in the beginning of Bereishit. The role of Am Yisrael is to reveal the "beginning" of the world, and its Creator, to demonstrate: "Raise your eyes on high and see Who creates these [things]!" (Yeshaya 40:26) To reveal the One – G-d, who hides in the Creation.
With this, we can understand the mitzvah of bikkurim: "You shall take the first of every fruit of the ground." The first is bikkurim, as it says, "The choicest first fruit of your land shall you bring to the House of Hashem, your G-d." (Shemot 23:19) In other words, bikkurim demonstrate that the world is not eternal; it has a beginning and it has an end. Therefore we are commanded to bring the bikkurim to the Temple – the place that reveals G-d Providence and his influence on the world. The Temple is also called "first," because the world was founded from there – even ha'shetiya.
Thus, the offering of bikkurim to G-d in the Temple comes to reveal the existence of G-d in the Creation, which has a "beginning": "Hashem's is the earth and its fullness." (Tehillim 24:1)
With this we can well understand the words of the Ba'al Haturim with which we opened. Why is the letter samech omitted from the portion of bikkurim even though the amount of bikkurim is one-sixtieth?
The answer is that the letter samech indicates the natural world that seems to have no beginning and no end, and is hidden, like the letter samech that is round. However, bikkurim indicate just the opposite, the beginning of the world, and therefore the letter samech does not appear in the portion of bikkurim. Nonetheless, it is alluded to in the word, tene, which has the gematriya of sixty – because the basket is the vessel that contains the bounty of the fruits, and man thinks, "My strength and the might of my hand made me all this wealth!" (Devarim 8:17) – similar to the circle that has no beginning and no end.
However, man is commanded to take one-sixtieth, to show that there is a "first," there is a One – i.e., G-d – who gives you all this bounty, in contrast to the perspective of the circle, which is the samech.
This is the essence of the mitzvah of bikkurim. "You shall take the first of every fruit of the ground," through which we acknowledge to G-d that all of the bounty that is in our houses is not merely a natural process, but all from the hand of G-d, who is the beginning of all, and "who renews in His goodness every day the work of Creation."
קוד השיעור: 3884
(Translated by Rav Meir Orlian)