Kenneth Cohen

Giving Generously

This week we read Parshat Ki Tavo that begins with the Mitzva of Bikurim. We are commanded to bring the first fruits of our produce as a gift to the Kohanim.
The fruits of the Seven Species are placed in a basket according to the means of the contributor. A wealthy person would bring a basket of gold or silver, and the poor might bring a basket of reeds.

It is interesting to note that the baskets of reeds were kept in the sanctuary, while those of gold and silver were returned. The lesson learned here is that it’s not enough to give charity. It is “how” we give that is important. The assumption is that for the wealthy to give in a gold or silver basket, does not require much effort. But for the poor to find the means to put together a basket of reeds, might require effort and ingenuity.

It is not the amount of a donation that finds favor with Hashem. Even a small amount can go much farther, when done with love and a full heart. This is an important lesson in our dealings with our fellow man. Whether it is charity for the poor, or even a gift to a loved one, the recipient should always be made to feel special. A gift given begrudgingly, not only can diminish the effectiveness of a Mitzva, but it can also defeat the whole act of giving. The Mitzva of Bikurim teaches us to give with a generous and loving heart.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at
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