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What are bikurim?

by Rabbi Mendy Hecht


Library » Mitzvot » Agriculture Related | Subscribe | What is RSS?


A. “Bikurim” means “first ones.” It refers to the first seasonal fruits of one’s orchard, and is one of the mitzvahs in force only if the Temple stands. This Mitzvah is often associated with the holiday of Shavuot, because Shavuot marked the official start of the Bikurim season.

B. The mitzvah requires the Israeli landowner to inspect his botanical properties at the harvest season’s start, keeping an eye out for any freshly ripened fruits (vegetables and grains are excluded).

C. These fruits are marked and brought to the Temple as a gift to G-d’s representatives, the Kohanim.

Upon spying a freshly rounded-out pomegranate... grapes, figs, dates and olives, he ties a ribbon onto the fruit and declares: “This fruit is bikurim!”
How was the mitzvah of bikurim peformed?

1. All in the Ripe Time

At the start of each fruit’s harvest season, our Jewish farmer heads out into his orchards armed with a supply of ribbons or strings, to perform Positive Mitzvah #125. Upon spying a freshly rounded-out pomegranate (or any other of the five fruits Israel is noted for -- grapes, figs, dates and olives), he ties one said item onto the fruit and declares: “This fruit is bikurim!”

2. Take a Hike

In Temple times, no automobiles were available. Getting to the high-elevation Temple plateau was thus quite a climb for the pilgrims streaming up to Jerusalem yearly to make their bikurim donations to the Temple’s kohanim.

3. State Your Case

The bikurim fruits were presented in a basket of the presenter’s property. If it was an inexpensive wicker basket, the entire package, basket and all, became the kohen’s property. If a wealthy man brought his bikurim in a basket of silver or gold, the fruit would be collected but the basket would remain his. In either case, the presenter would perform Positive Mitzvah #132 upon his presentation: stating his appreciation to G-d for the miracle of Jewish continuity from the patriarch Jacob onwards.

TAGS: bikurim


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Holidays » Shavuot » Laws and Customs

(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Plural form of Kohain. Priests of G-d. This title belongs to the male descendants of Aaron, brother of Moses. The primary function of the Kohain was to serve in the Holy Temple. Today the Kohain is still revered and it is his function to recite the Priestly Blessings on certain occasions.
Early summer festival marking the day when the Jews received the Torah at Mount Sinai in the year 2448 (1312 BCE).
Third of the three Patriarchs and father of the Twelve Tribes. Lived most his life in Canaan and died in Egypt in 1505 BCE. Also known by the name of "Israel."
Established by King David to be the eternal capital of Israel. Both Temples were built there, and the third Temple will be situated there when the Messiah comes.
1. Usually a reference to the Holy Temple which was/will be situated in Jerusalem. 1st Temple was built in 825 BCE and was destroyed in 423 BCE. The 2nd Temple was built in 350 BCE and was destroyed in 70 CE. The 3rd Temple will be built by the Messiah. 2. A synagogue.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.