You shall be glad with all the goodness that Hashem your G-d has given you and your household (Devarim 26:11)
The mitzvah of bikurim is the commandment that requires the Jewish farmer to designate which fruits were first to grow in the current year’s crops by wrapping a reed around the produce and then separating the fruit after it ripens. Then, with great fanfare, farmers from all over the Land join festive processions marching to Yerushalayim to present their first fruits to a Kohen. The farmer then expresses thanks for all the good he has received from Above.
One might ask why it is that the Torah requires the first fruits to be brought. What difference would it make if a person offered the third or fourth fruit to grow on a tree? Perhaps a fruit that grew second or third would be more suitable as a gift representing appreciation?
There was once a very rich man whose son spent an inordinate amount of money in order to build himself a magnificent palace. The young man invited all his friends and acquaintances to a chanukat habayit — a dedication ceremony on the occasion of the opening of his new abode. Of course, his parents and extended family were among the invited guests. The highlight of the event was a guided tour through the structure and its surrounding gardens, swimming pools, tennis courts — even a golf course. Room by room, wing by wing, the young man spoke of the unique features of each area and the detailed planning and construction needed to produce this one-of-a-kind residence. The more the guests were impressed, the more his conceit showed. The only one who was not awestruck was his father, who waited anxiously to hear two words — “thank you” — for all the funds his father provided to enable the young man to assemble the magnificent complex. All his father wanted to hear was “I never could have realized my dream without the support of my father. Thank you, Dad!” But those words of appreciation never came.
The taste, size or color of the first fruit is not what qualifies it as a gift to Hashem. The fact that the farmer brings the first fruit is an admission that he did not produce the fruits and he does not own the land on which it grew. The real owner of the land is Hashem and He is the One that grows the produce. The intent of the pesukim are clear. “It will be when you enter the Land that Hashem your G-d gives you as an inheritance… that you should take of the first of every fruit… from your land that Hashem, your G-d gives you.” Then one must declare: “He brought us to this place, and He gave us this Land…” The entire process of the first fruit is an admission that we do nothing and He gives all that we have.
Before we approach Hashem asking for all that is good in the coming year, we must first thank Him for all He has provided in the past. We should modestly thank Him for providing all our needs with generosity throughout our lives and beseech Him to continue to treat us as His beloved children in the coming year. Amen.