Answering the question

AuthorRabbi Moshe Kempinski
Publication Date27 Aug 2021
Life is sometimes a raging river that propels us forward in a feverish pace. We not only at times lose our footing , but also lose our sense of self. We begin to try to accumulate wealth or acquire possessions in a mad rush to grant us some stability and self importance. It is this that regrettably sometimes leaves is empty and perpetually unfulfilled.

The remedy is revealed in this week's portion and the ceremony of the First fruits, the Bikkurim.

When describing the bringing of the Bikkurim/First Fruits the Torah says the following.

And the kohen will take the basket from your hand, laying it before the altar of Hashem, your G-d,And you shall call out( VeAnitem) and say before Hashem, your G-d, "An Aramean [sought to] destroy my forefather, and he went down to Egypt and sojourned there with a small number of people, and there, he became a great, mighty, and numerous nation.( Deuteronomy 26:4-5)

The words translated from the Hebrew VeAnitem "And you shall call out"or in other translations "and you shall declare" is understood in Hebrew as "And you shall ANSWER".

This is how it is understood in Genesis after Joseph reveals his true identity to his brothers "And Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?" but his brothers could not answer ( LE-ANOT) him because they were startled by his presence.""( Genesis 45:3).

We see this again in the book of Samuel "The lad answered ( LE-ANOT) Saul again,""( SAMUEL I 9:8)

What question, then, was the farmer answering as he stood before the priests ( Kohanim) with the first fruit offering?

The farmer continues to explain.

And the Egypians treated us cruelly and afflicted us, and they imposed hard labor upon us. So we cried out to Hashem, G-d of our fathers, and Hashem heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. And Hashem brought us out from Egypt with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm, with great awe, and with signs and wonders. And He brought us to this place, and He gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.( Deuteronomy 26:6-9)

These are the words repeated at every seder night , at every seder throughout the world.

All this because of the question that has perplexed us throughout the generations. Thousands of years of struggling with hatred, oppression, transience and hatred. A never-ending repetition of the reality of "they treated us cruelly and afflicted us, "

The first question that begs to be asked is "How and why are we still here?

Yet...

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