An Awe-some Time

The Torah recounts the farmer’s script when bringing the Bikkurim, beginning with “I declare today… that I have arrived at the land that Hashem promised…” (26:3). It’s a peculiar statement, obviously, because the farmer could not have just arrived- he must have planted and waited for his fruit tree to blossom before bringing his “first fruits”! Why is the farmer required to say “today… I arrived in the land…”?

 

One could explain that this statement is not meant to describe his arrival, but rather the farmer’s newfound appreciation of the land in which he arrived. He isn’t claiming that he just came, but that this land- that I came to- is in fact the land that G-d promised. But if that was so, what changed that helped him realize that? 

 

One could explain that the experience of bringing the first fruit is an awakening. Beforehand, the farmer lived far-off in a remote area of Israel, knowing only his family, his crop, and his animals. At the ripening of his first fruit he makes the trek up to Jerusalem, the holy headquarters of serving G-d. As opposed to his typical, just-like-any-other-countryside atmosphere, he’s taken aback by the majesty and grandeur of the Beit Hamikdash, the holy priests, prayers and songs. Reveling in that environment, his perspective changes. The basket of fruit in his hands is no longer fruit of any other country, they’re of a country guided through a holy mission, according to the compass of G-d. Whereas before, his experience was like any other place around the world, he now appreciates that the country he lives in actually is different, one infused with meaning and purpose. Hence, he remarks, “I declare today… that I have arrived in land that G-d promised”, not like the places I was before. 

 

As we approach the High Holidays, we too should be finding messages of renewal. We may not be going anywhere new, meeting any new people, or changing to a new schedule, but our perspective should be new. When we pray and engage with the upcoming holy days, it should bring a new awareness to our purpose; the purpose of our homes, our families, and our activities. They might be the same places and activities as before, but now we should appreciate that they’re the one’s that G-d gave us. Just as the farmer stands in awe of majesty of the Temple, let us be changed through the prayers of the Yamim Noraim, our very own “Days of Awe”.