Offering Our Firstfruits to GodSeptember 12, 2022 - 12:00 am
…take some of the firstfruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land the LORD your God is giving you and put them in a basket. Then go to the place the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name… —Deuteronomy 26:2
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Ki Tavo, which means “when you have entered,” from Deuteronomy 26:1–29:8.
I was in a neighbourhood store the other day and saw something that really made an impression on me. In lots of stores, most often in smaller and family-owned shops, you’ll see a dollar bill taped to the wall near the register. This is how a lot of business owners commemorate their first customer.
Well, in this store behind the counter, there was a sign that read Todah Hashem — “Thank you, God.” Just under the sign was a framed piece of paper. It looked like a receipt. I asked the owner if that was the receipt from the first customer. “No,” he replied. “It’s a receipt from the local soup kitchen.”
He explained that he donated the proceeds of their very first day of business to the local soup kitchen and then framed the receipt from that gift. From that day forward, he tithes the profits of his business to help the local poor.
Offering Our Firstfruits to God
We see the importance of offering our “firstfruits” to God in this week’s Torah portion. We read, “Take some of the firstfruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land the LORD your God is giving you and put them in a basket. Then go to the place the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name.”
Few things fill people with pride more than the first results of their own hard work, in essence their “firstfruits.” By offering our firstfruits to God, we remind ourselves that everything we have comes from Him. This keeps us humble at a time when we are most prone to be prideful.
The Hebrew word for “first” is reishit. This is the same as the first word of the Book of Genesis, the very first word of the entire Bible, Be’reishit — “in the beginning” or “at the first.” By using this word in talking about the “firstfruits,” which reminds us of the beginning of Creation, the Bible teaches us the importance of gratitude to God. God created the world. God gained nothing from Creation. When we offer our firstfruits, we not only thank God, but we also emulate Him as well by giving to others.
Your turn: Have you offered your firstfruits to God? Put Him first by giving to the needy today.