Blasphemous Bikurim

21 Sep

On Shabbos my younger brother gave over a short d’var torah in typical question answer format.


Q: When people brought bikurim, the rich brought it in gold baskets, the poor straw. The Kohanim would give back the gold baskets and keep the straw. Why?


I came up with several reasons, some serious, some not


         -Show the rich people that they’re not so hoity toidy and “we don’t need your gold baskets”, appreciating the value of the simple straw style


         It was the Bais Hamidash, there was no shortage of gold, but something simple like straw people overlooked and therefore the Kohanim took the straw they needed and returned the gold they didn’t


         Or plain old, to let us ask this boring questions, to pontificate at length, come up with boring long-winded answers when it’s really something simple and obvious.


The answer actually is,

When the rich presented their bikurim, the Kohanim would take it out of the basket and show off the beautiful tithes. They didn’t want to embarrass the poor people with their puny offerings, so they just relieved them of the bikurim, basket and all.


We’re supposed to be impressed by this display of sensitivity.


I wasn’t

And I argued back



         It’s not sensitivity, in fact it’s worse. It’s labeling the poor man. Why not just NOT display the rich man’s and keep his stupid gold basket


         They’re assuming that because someone is poor he can’t have a good crop. Poor people can have a nice crop, just smaller. Like wise, the rich man doesn’t necessarily have a good crop, like juicy grapes, he just has a lot of them and sells them to the raisin makers.


         Also if the guy has gold baskets, he can afford to lose one a year. If the guy’s poor and has – heaven forbid- straw baskets, he probably needs them. Straw doesn’t grow on trees (they grow on the ground 😉 )


         Additionally they are minimizing the contribution of the poor man, and lauding the one of the rich man, when really their money, or lack of, has nothing to do with them, but the lot Hashem gave them. Why point that out, and make it a factor of appreciation, when it has nothing to do with the individuals accomplishments.


         We are always being sensitive to inanimate objects, the challah by kiddush, Moshe, to the earth and water. Why are they not sensitive to straw versus gold? They are making an obvious preference and placing a value over one to the other. Isn’t that a little insulting, embarrassing, belittling, and insensitive to the straw?



I went on and on.


I think I make a lot of sense. But the thing is, it wasn’t like the way I think it should be and the reason my brother gave still stands as their intention.


It’s one thing for me to challenge current opinion or something theoretical, but I’m going after the very paradigm I seek to recreate. So therefore I’m feeling a little sacrilegious, and blasphemous. I’m sure if I asked someone to clarify it, it will be, but right now I’m lazy and a little dissent feels good.






Posted by on September 21, 2008 in Food


Tags: , ,

13 responses to “Blasphemous Bikurim

  1. Tom Humes

    September 21, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    Nice Site layout for your blog. I am looking forward to reading more from you.

    Tom Humes

  2. Child Ish Behavior

    September 22, 2008 at 12:09 am

    The real answer is that the reason that the kohanim kept the straw is to show that the poor are really better than the rich. The poor people worked hard so they get the zechus to give their basket for use as a mitzva. The rich person didn’t work to make his basket, all he did was pay money, so we throw his basket back in his face. You got to work if you want God to accept your offering.

  3. tooyoungtoteach

    September 22, 2008 at 12:23 am

    Ok, so that sorta fits in with one of my reasons, except you used the word mitzva, and I just disparaged rich people…but then what about my brother’s answer. He made it up? It still doesn’t shtim.

  4. Child Ish Behavior

    September 22, 2008 at 1:29 am

    There are multiple right answers. depending on the values that you would like to promote. ” the reason my brother gave still stands as their intention.” why do you believe that he is more right than you? Personally I proposed the what I said to my rosh yeshiva and he said that I was michaven to someone with that pshat,(don’t ask me who.) Point is, there is no right answer that has to be correct, there are multiple correct pshatim. Ailu ViAylu Divrey Elikim Chaim.

  5. tooyoungtoteach

    September 22, 2008 at 1:41 am

    True, except, he’s in yeshiva, and I’m not. I don’t have anything but my own logic to back me up. While I do take everything with a grain of salt…it was a simple d’var torah, how off could he be?

    In anycase, thanx.

    I thought I was going to have to declare myself a heretic…you just took the wind from me

  6. EndOfWorld

    September 22, 2008 at 3:58 am

    I would answer, but I’m too distracting by the commanding stare from your eye. Put on some shades, or something

  7. Mikeinmidwood

    September 22, 2008 at 4:06 am

    Its really a great thing that we take the poor mans straw. Think of the economical point. If the rich man gives away his gold basket he will then lose money and not want to spend on a new one which then will eventually cause the collapse of the economy. If you take the straw it will force the poor man to make another straw basket. See how everything G-d does is for the best.

  8. tooyoungtoteach

    September 22, 2008 at 4:47 am

    EndofWorld: You’re just jealous that yours are dog poop brown

    Mike: I knew there had to be present day application…they were setting economic precedence back then.

  9. frumcollegegirl

    September 22, 2008 at 5:42 am

    first of all, there is NOTHING wrong with brown eyes. we’re actually better than you cuz we have more melanocytes…

    and secondly, i learned a really cool answer for the whole gold/straw basket thing once. but i can’t remember it.

  10. tooyoungtoteach

    September 22, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    There is nothing wrong with brown eyes, we’re only talking dominant and recessive genes. I even have brown in my eyes too, a ring around my pupil, the rest is a blue green moosh.

    Also, cool answer that you don’t remember don’t help me much. Can you remember it? I need to go bug my brother and “shtuch” him out

    (when was the last time you used the word shtuch?)

  11. Frum Hiker

    September 22, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    Hey do you have an email address?

    How about a blogroll link exchange?

  12. tooyoungtoteach

    September 22, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    Sure, on the blogroll link. 🙂

  13. manly lips

    September 23, 2008 at 9:17 am

    hi there – i was just catching up on your blog… it’s good to be back, you really have great stuff!



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