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CONSIDER IT DONE

by Rabbi Shimon Feigenbaum    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

This week's Torah portion starts with the mitzvah of bikurim, the annual commandment for the farmer to bring his first fruits to the Temple in Jerusalem.

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This week's Torah portion starts with the mitzvah of bikurim, the annual commandment for the farmer to bring his first fruits to the Temple in Jerusalem. The first verse of the portion introduces the mitzvah of bikurim by stating: "It will be when you enter the land that Hashem gives you as an inheritance. . ." (Deuteronomy 26:1). The Torah then continues to relate the details of this mitzvah.

From the above words, it would seem that the mitzvah of bikurim applies immediately upon the Jewish people's arrival in the land of Israel. However, Jewish law dictates - based upon the end of the verse, ". . .and you possess it and dwell in it" - that the mitzvah begins only after the settling of the land is complete. The book of Joshua relates that after entering the land of Israel, it took a total of fourteen years to completely conquer, distribute, and settle the land. Why, then, does the verse begin by implying that the mitzvah is to be done immediately upon entering the land of Israel?

The Malbim, author of a classic 19th century commentary on the Torah, explains that the Jewish people agreed to do all of the mitzvot and learn about them even before the time of the mitzvah began. Even though they would not have the opportunity to perform the mitzvah of bikurim for another fourteen years, Hashem considered it as if they began the mitzvah right away upon entering the land of Israel.

We can derive from here a tremendous lesson, that when we prepare to do mitzvot and we learn about the mitzvot, Hashem considers it as if we did the mitzvah already. Hashem wants to reward us, and because of His abundant love for us, He gives us many chances to earn that reward.

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Rabbi Shimon Feigenbaum is an educator at the Torah Day School of Atlanta.

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