Rabbi's Message

  • September 23, 2016


    The following Dvar Torah from Rav Mordechai Shifman of Los Angeles, has an important lesson for parents, and an invauable application to our relationship with Hashem.
    Have a great Shabbos and a kesiva v'chasima tova.

    The beginning of this week's parsha is dedicated to the mitzva of "bikkurim". The Torah mandates that the landowner bring an offering comprised of the seven species of produce indigenous to the Land of Israel. The Talmud notes that although a person could discharge his Torah obligation with a minimal amount, such as one grape, one olive or one fig, our Sages decreed that since we are expressing our gratitude to Hashem for His blessings, we should give with greater magnanimity. Why would the Torah require only a negligible amount to express our appreciation? If, in fact, any amount would suffice, why did the Sages require us to give more?

    A problem that often affects the parent-child relationship occurs when a parent who has assisted his child in attaining success in life takes complete credit for all of his child's accomplishments. A parent who pays for his child's schooling or provides the seed money to begin his business can fall prey to feeling that his child does not appreciate everything that he has done for him. The dynamics of this problem stem from the child's feeling controlled by the parent and, in fact, the greater the parent pushes for the child to show appreciation, the more dominated the child will feel. The child will have an aversion to acknowledging the parent's involvement in order to avoid submitting to the parent's control.

    The healthy way for a parent to offer assistance is to allow the child to see that assistance as a gift that enables the child's sense of independence. Once the child has built up his own self-confidence gained through his feelings of accomplishment and independence, he will feel comfortable showing the appropriate gratitude and recognition to his parents.

    The same predicament occurs in our relationship with Hashem. If we are made to feel that He owns us and all of our possessions and continuously seeks our acknowledgment of this fact, we will be unable to express our gratitude for all that He does for us.  Therefore, Hashem only requires that we submit a small token of our produce, for He wants us to feel our independence and recognize our own efforts that have allowed us to reap the fruits of our labor from the land that we own. Once we understand that Hashem does not want to impose His control and ownership upon us, we can fully express our appreciation for all that He does to benefit us. At this point our Sages declare that we should express our appreciation by offering a more magnanimous gift.