Fruits & Curses
week’s portion starts off with the mitsva of bikurim—first fruits. “It
will be when you enter the land that G-d gives you as an inheritance, and you
possess it, and dwell in it, that you shall take of the first of every fruit of
the ground that you bring in from your land” (Deut. Ch.26 v.1-2).
on in the portion, we find perhaps the most frightening part of the Torah: the
section of the curses. “But it will be that if you do not listen to the voice
of Hashem, your G-d, to observe and perform all His commandments and all His
decrees that I command you today, then all these curses will come upon you and
overtake you.” (Deut. Ch.28 v.15).
The curses constitute 67 verses found in chapters 27 and 28.
is the there to be learnt from the curses? And what is the connection between
the curses and the first fruit that they should be listed in the same portion?
is a well known fact in parenting, that children need discipline. If parents
truly love their child, they don’t allow him or her to run wild and do as they
please. On the contrary, they establish rules in the home. And if the children
break these rules they are punished. This is obviously done because the parents
love their children and they realize that children need guidance in order to
reach their potential. Sometimes, this comes in the form of punishment, but
ultimately the punishment is for the good of the child.
has two ways of dealing with us: lovingkindness and judgment. These two things
combined equal the concept of mercy. When G-d deems it necessary to punish us,
He does so with the left—or the weaker— hand (figuratively, not literally).
All the curses mentioned are intended as a warning to us—similar to the
warning a father might give to a son. Throughout our history with so much
suffering we might find it easier to say that G-d has given up on us. This is
not so. Though we might not know the specific reason for all the suffering, we
do know that ultimately it is done out of love—to warn us to observe the
is why the mitsva of the first born fruits is mentioned here. The midrash says
that first fruits are one of three things in whose merit the world was created
(tithes and challah, also agricultural commandments, are the others). The
commandment of the first fruits, and of agricultural commandments in general,
have a unique duality to them. While they are commandments which concern the
relationship between man and G-d (through performing them, man realizes who is
the ultimate provider), they also concern the relationship between man and man,
as they are providing sustenance to the Priests and Levites who do not have a
portion in the land (they do not have a portion because their ultimate goal is
to dedicate their time directly to G-d, not to the land).
proximity of the list of curses with the lines regarding the first fruits tells
us that though we might sin, and though G-d might punish us, nonetheless, our
ultimate purpose here on this world is for good, like the first fruits