When a person offers the bikkurim for the first time of that year, they come to the Kohen of those days and declare to him the declaration of Deuteronomy 26:3:

ובאת אל־הכהן אשר יהיה בימים ההם ואמרת אליו הגדתי היום לה' אלקיך כי־באתי אל־הארץ אשר נשבע ה' לאבתינו לתת לנו

And thou shalt go to the priest that shall be in those days, and say to him, I profess this day to the Lord thy God, that I am come to the country which the Lord swore to our fathers to give us. (Koren translation)

Followed by the declaration to Hashem in verses 5-10:

וענית ואמרת לפני  ה' אלקיך ארמי אבד אבי וירד מצרימה ויגר שם במתי מעט ויהי־שם לגוי גדול עצום ורב וירעו אתנו המצרים ויענונו ויתנו עלינו עבדה קשה ונצעק אל־ה' אלקי אבתינו וישמע ה' את־קלנו וירא את־ענינו ואת־עמלנו ואת־לחצנו ויוצאנו ה' ממצרים ביד חזקה ובזרע נטויה ובמרא גדל ובאתות ובמפתים ויבאנו אל־המקום הזה ויתן־לנו את־הארץ הזאת ארץ זבת חלב ודבש ועתה הנה הבאתי את־ראשית פרי האדמה אשר־נתתה לי ה' והנחתו לפני ה' אלקיך והשתחוית לפני ה' אלקיך

And thou shalt speak and say before the Lord thy God, An Arammian nomad was my father, and he went down to Miżrayim, and sojourned there with a few, and became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous: and the Miżrim dealt ill with us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage: and when we cried to the Lord God of our fathers, the Lord heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labour, and our oppression: and the Lord brought us out of Miżrayim with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders: and he brought us to this place, and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou, O Lord, hast given me. And thou shalt set it before the Lord thy God, and worship before the Lord thy God (Koren translation)

Why is a declaration said to the kohen?

Why does the person refer to Hashem as the God of the kohen?


1 Answer 1


Why is a declaration said to the kohen?

The Sforno explains that the idea here is that the Kohen is like an agent of G-d.

[...] the priest receives the bikkurim on behalf of G-d, it is as if G-d’s agent is addressed by the title reserved for his Master.

This idea is echoed by the Rabbeinu Bahya (ad loc.). The Rabbeinu Bahya also answers your question as to why Hashem is refered to as the G-d of the Kohen. He writes:

הגדתי היום לה' אלוקיך, “I have declared today to the Lord your G’d, etc.” The word “your G’d,” instead of “our G’d,” seems incomprehensible here. How could the person making this declaration be allowed to exclude himself from the community by using such wording (grammar)? It appears as if he did not share the same belief in G’d as his compatriots! However, consider that if the wording had been לה' אלוקינו, it would not have been clear whom he considered as the Lord. Now that he uses the wording written by the Torah it is clear that when he addresses the High Priest he speaks of the Lord on whose behalf this Priest officiates. The moment he associates the Lord with the one in whose service the Priest serves, there can be no doubt that the donor also serves the same Lord, else why present the gift to the High Priest of that G’d? It is clear now that whoever is the G’d of the High Priest is also the G’d of the person bringing the bikkurim. (emphasis mine)

Rabbi Shlomo Hakohen Rabinowicz, the Tiferes Shlomo, writes (Ki Tavo):

It is known that the tzaddik has the ability to raise the prayers to Hashem and through the tzaddik everything can be raised

Therefore, the posuk is telling us to bring the bikkurim to the Kohen. Because:

therefore the Torah commands the Jew to come before the kohen so that the tzaddik of the generation [the kohen] will elevate it.

Based on the words of the Sforno, Rabbeinu Bahya and the Tiferes Shlomo, I would like to quote the Maayanah Shel Torah, who quotes the Chida (Nachal Kedumim Al HaTorah, Devarim 26:2, sv. וְלָקַחְתָּ֞).

The Gemara in Kiddushn 7a is quoted. It says that if someone important accepts a gift, it is as if the important person had given a present to the giver because of the pleasure the acceptance of the gift affords the giver by accepting the present. [...] The Torah uses the verb "take" in this sense with reference to the bikkurim. It implies that those making the offering thereby "take" or accept from G-d a gift [...] (Maayanah Shel Torah, parashas Ki Savo, p. 300).

The Novominsker Rebbe quotes the Ishbitzer Rebbe in his Mei HaShiloach. The Ishbitzer Rebbe says:

“Telling” or hagada in Hebrew, hints at difficult things. With this he will say difficult things before the Cohen. He hints to him that even though the Cohen works in the Holy Temple and he works in the fields, nevertheless, when this farmer reaches the Temple in Jerusalem and brings bikkurim, first-fruit offerings, then it becomes perfectly clear that any place any action that was done with Kedusha (sanctity), no matter how simple, was like the service of the Cohen.

The Novominsker goes on to say that there is a difference between the work of a Kohen and that of a farmer. The work of a farmer seems to be non-spiritual, not as a Kohen's "job", whose essence is avodas Hashem. But.... "the farmer's hands may be dirtied with soil, his face wet with perspiration, but his aspiration is kirvas Elokim".

That is why the Kohen and the Yisrael lift the basket together. Now the two are on the same level, serving Hashem equally. The Yisrael tells the Kohen: "Today I come to tell Hashem, your G-d, the G-d that you serve here each and every day, that I too have reached that level of kedusha".

The Novominsker ends with saying that:

The goal of bikkurim was to raise the mundane activities of the farmer to kedusha.

Source: Novominsk on Chumash, vol. 2 (by Rabbi Yecheskel Ostreicher).

  • 1
    This is excellent, thank you very much Commented Sep 4, 2023 at 18:21
  • 1
    Glad to be of help! Keep shteiging!
    – Shmuel
    Commented Sep 4, 2023 at 19:17

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