Ki Tavo: Longings
“This very day, God, your Lord, commands you to perform these decrees and these statutes, and you shall observe and perform them with all your heart and all your soul.” (Deuteronomy 26:16)
This is the meaning of the verse, “Let us come and prostrate ourselves and bow, and let us kneel before God, our Maker.” (Psalms 95:6) Is not bowing down included in prostrating and vice versa? So what does it mean to tell us> Moshe foresaw with Divine Inspiration that the Beit Hamikdash would be destroyed and the bringing of the first fruits would be abolished. So he went ahead and instituted that Israel should pray three times a day. (Midrash Tanchumah – Ki Tavo I)
The prayers are expressions of our longing for closeness and attachment to God. Some longings begin inside our hearts. There are higher longings that are rooted in God’s command. The commandment plants the seed of longing for attachment in the heart that is open.
This is why, “One who is commanded is greater than one who performs a Mitzvah without being commanded.” The one is performs that which he is commanded is grabbing onto the longings that are rooted in heaven.
The Patriarchs established the three daily prayers. (Berachot 26b) They gave expression to human longing for a relationship with God. Moshe established the three prayers as a Mitzvah, so that one who prays is not limited by his own longing, but can use prayer to connect with God’s longing for a relationship.
This is also the difference between entering Israel because it is a “Land flowing in milk and honey,” something for which we long, as compared to entering Israel as, “God commanded,” connecting with God’s longing for a relationship with us.
This is why, “To God is the earth and all that fills her,” before a blessing, for the blessing is the way we can eat as an expression of longing for a relationship with the Creator.
The Bikkurim, or First Fruits, are our way of connecting with Israel as connecting with God’s longing. This is why the person who brings the Bikkurim can say, “I will not move from here until You answer me,” and a Heavenly Voice responds and says, “You shall bring Bikkurim next year as well.”
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