by Rabbi M. Kripke
Our Sidrah opens with instruction to the Hebrews (who were about to enter Canaan) to remember that this land is the Lord’s gift to them. They were to show their gratitude by making an (annual?) acknowledgement, formal and solemn, at the Temple and in the presence of the Priest, that this land is God’s gift: “Here are the first fruits of the soil. We acknowledge that this good produce is His, and we thank Him for it.”
This offering, in time, became the Shavuot offering of First Fruits. It was an annual time of joy and festivity, and a solemn and happy display of gratitude for the good things of the earth.
It requires no great mental or spiritual leap to see that gratitude is also the thrust of the harvest festival of Sukkot and the freedom festival of Pesach. Gratitude is a basic expression of the human spirit; and, in Judaism, it is a basic religious requirement as well.
Life itself is the greatest gift. The self-conscious human being never forgets this, never denies it, never allows it to escape his thought process.
“When you come into the land…” our Sidrah says, don’t forget how you got there and why. Don’t forget Who it was who brought you there. Make solemn affirmation of your gratitude.”