Ki Tav’o (Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8)
At this stage in the month of Elul, we can see that we are coming to the source of all creation in the realm of time and, concomitantly, as we proceed along the path of teshuvah, we can begin to discern a greater opening into the deepest depths of consciousness.
There is great joy when you come to that Land of Unlimited Beginning, where Be-ing who G-ds you connects you to the Stream of Divine Be-ing, and there you can channel its flow while resting within its source. (Devarim 26:1).
The Rebbe Elimelekh finds in this verse a reference to the state of a realized soul that is both resting in the source of Be-ing and also a channel for conducting its healing energy into the most manifest aspects of this very world. The Hebrew word nachalah(conventionally translated as “inheritance”) has the sense of “what is flowing to you.” The very same letters can also be read, hyper-literally, as nachal H’, which means the Stream of Divine Be-ing.
When a person is able to rest within the Land, the two primary aspects of duality, YHVH and Elohim, are united. In this integrated state, the personality dissolves into Be-ing and at the same time, the G-ding aspect of Be-ing fills the already prepared vessel of the soul with an empowering divine flow. The ability to consciously draw down and direct this flow so that it positively affects our experience is the source of deepest healing and transformation. Inspiration and renewal are its fruits. The active wielding of this creative power is a great joy and can enable us to more skillfully play our unique roles in helping make our “worlds” a place where Divinity is revealed.
And then you must select the first fruits… (Devarim 26:2).
In its simplest sense, the commandment of bikkurim initially involved bringing to the Temple offerings of the first fruits of the seven species that grow in the Land of Israel. With this commandment, the Torah teaches us a ritual that celebrates and dramatizes the deep ecological interdependence of Divine source, sacred earth, and spiritually conscious humanity: the primordial union of Heaven, Earth, and the service of the axial beings who unite them.
And then you must select the first fruits… (Devarim 26:2).
Rashi, commenting on the meaning of first gives us a beautiful image: A person goes down to the field and discovers a fig that is just beginning to ripen earlier than the others and binds it with a reed, so it can be identified as a first fruit.
The early ripening fig reminds us of how special a moment it is when one first discovers signs of renewal. In the course of our lives, so much appears routine and, despite our best efforts, most of our development occurs within the unconscious. Whenever we notice that something new actually does occur, it is irresistibly attractive. Our sages, using the example of the freshly ripened (organic) fig, point out a danger that is present in such a moment: we may be so attracted by the fig that we will immediately pop it in our mouths without thinking. In acting so unconsciously, we miss out on a unique opportunity to raise the fruit’s spark, by remaining aware of its divine source.
If, however, we restrain ourselves, binding it with a reed of conscious awareness, the moment may become a powerful gateway to the Land of unlimited Beginning. In pausing to contemplate the miracle of the fig’s ripening, Heaven and Earth are united, and if we are deep enough, we can even enter into the Land in which Be-ing who G-d’s us connects us to the Stream of Divine Be-ing.
The Slonimer Rebbe reminds us of the extraordinary importance that the Midrash attributes to the commandment of first fruits.Sifrey, commenting on this verse, states that as a reward for doing this mitzvah you will have the merit to enter the Land. Bereishit Rabbah even goes further, stating that all of creation exists for the sake of performing the mitzvah of first fruits.
How can first fruits that come from the Land bring us to the Land?
We may assume that Rashi and the Sages, who lived after the destruction of the Temple, were not only talking about first fruits in the literal sense. Indeed, rabbinic sources already interpret first fruits as prayer, the best intentions of the Heart that we can offer to our Divine Source.
From an even deeper qualified non-dual kabbalistic perspective, we learn that a fig, as a fruit whose outside is as delectable as its inside, represents the highest spiritual world of Atzilut. At this level, there is no qelippah (shell) present to conceal the divine nature of all that is manifesting. Thus the world of Atzilut is the world of Hokhmah (Wisdom). In order to enter the non-dual Land of unlimited Beginning and to fulfill the purpose for which all creation exists, we need only to be awake enough to discern with the Eye of Wisdom how first fruits are arising within our own human experience, as emanations emerging from Be-ing who G-ds you.
And then you must discern how first fruits of your humanness are uniquely emanating from the Land of Unlimited Beginning that Be-ing who G-ds you gives to you; by placing yourself in the integrated state, you go to that Place where Be-ing who G-ds you chooses to manifest the Shekhinah. (Devarim 26:2).
Literally, the verse speaks of putting (the first fruits) ba-tene’. The word tene’ is conventionally translated as “basket.” However, an early Hasidic commentary recognizes the word tene’ as an acronym for ta’amim, niqqudot, otiot: the melody, vowel points, and letters of the Torah. All three must be integrated in order to chant the Torah text properly.
These three aspects also represent the three lower worlds, or main realms of manifestation: feeling, thought, and body. From this deeper perspective, the Torah is instructing us here to place ourselves in the integrated state, which can bring us immediately into the Presence of the Shekhinah.
When your inner Priest appears you can confirm and declare before the Divine Presence that I have now reached the Land of unlimited Beginning that Be-ing is bound to bestow upon us through the union of Hokhmah and Binah (Devarim 26:3).
The inner Priest then liberates the integrated self from the power of the personality and causes it to rest as a sacrifice on the altar of Be-ing who G-ds you. (Devarim 26:4).
At that moment we may confess to Be-ing the truth of our lives.
Originating in Hokhmah my soul became lost in the realm that derives from Light, Air, and Water. It descended into a state of constriction, where it was fearful and weak. Nevertheless it evolved and became strong and multifaceted. (Devarim 26:5).
Still my limitations troubled and afflicted me. It was an ordeal to deal with them. When all parts of myself cried out to Be-ing who G-ds me through Hokhmah and Binah, Be-ing was aware of my energy and witnessed my afflictions and tensions. And Be-ing powerfully and decisively liberated me in amazingly wondrous ways. (Devarim 26:6-8).
Be-ing brings us to this very Place and bestows upon us this Land of unlimited Beginning, from which nurture and sweetness flow.(Devarim 26:9).
That is why I am now discerning the first fruits of my own humanness, which emanate from Be-ing, and resting in the Presence of Be-ing who G-ds us… (Devarim 26:10).
Practicing bikkurim, discerning how the first fruits of our humanness emanate from Be-ing who G-ds us, can bring us to that wholeness that the Slonimer Rebbe calls emunat ha-eyvarim, faith that extends beyond the head and the heart until it is present in every cell of our bodies.
You do a full prostration in the Presence of Be-ing who G-ds you. (Devarim 26:10) and in this state of complete immersion in theStream of Divine Be-ing, (Devarim 26:1) from which nurture and sweetness flow (Devarim 26:9),
You experience the great joy of the total goodness that Be-ing who G-ds you emanates within you and all that surrounds you, integrating the part of the self that is already consciously deployed by the Shekhinah and even that still fearful part that is not yet liberated. (Devarim 26:11).
May we all have the merit to experience first fruits
And to bind and gather them in the basket of the integrated self.
May our offering of first fruits which emanate from the Land
Return us directly to the Land.
May the nurture and sweetness that we draw forth from this teaching
Exhaust all curses and deficiencies before Rosh Ha-Shanah.
Rabbi Moshe Aharon Ladizhyner
(aka Rabbi Miles Krassen)