Dvar Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
Dvar Torah # 1
The Torah states: “And now I brought the first fruit of the Land which the Almighty gave me, and you shall place it before the Almighty, your God, and you shall bow down before the Almighty, your God” (Deut 26:10).
We do not find the idea of bowing down to the Almighty mentioned with regards to other commandments. Why is it mentioned here in the bringing of the first fruits?
Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz teaches us that the whole concept of bringing the first fruits to the Bait HaMikdosh (the Holy Temple in Jerusalem) is to show gratitude to the Almighty for all that He has given. It is an expression of our awareness that everything we have is a gift from the Almighty. Therefore, the Torah mentions that we bow down to the Almighty, which symbolizes our total submission to His will because all that we have is from Him. This applies to our material as well as our intellectual achievements. Be grateful to the Almighty for all that you understand in Torah and any novel ideas that He has blessed you with.
The greater your awareness that all you have is a gift from the Almighty the more you will appreciate it. As many commentators point out, a small gift from a very distinguished and important dignitary is a precious possession. The greater the giver the more you treasure what you were given. When you live with the reality that all you have is a gift from the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, you will immensely enjoy everything you have!
Dvar Torah # 2
The Torah states: “And He brought us to this place and He gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey” (Deuteronomy 26:9).
Rashi, the great commentator, explains that “this place” refers to the Bait Hamikdosh, the Temple in Jerusalem. The question arises: Why isn’t the order the other way around? Since the Israelites entered the Land of Israel much before they built the Temple, the land should be mentioned first!
Rabbi Naftoli Tzvi Berlin of Volozhin explains that the Bait Hamikdosh was a spiritual benefit and the Land of Israel was a physical benefit. When we express our gratitude to the Almighty we should do so in the order of importance of the things for which we are grateful. Therefore, we thank Him for our spiritual blessings before our material ones.
This, too, should be our order of priorities in our thinking and behaviour. Our spiritual needs should be uppermost in our minds. This will have practical ramifications should there be a conflict between our spiritual and material well-being.