On Friday morning, August 27, Rabbi Michael Mansour shared a shiur about entering Rosh HaShanah with appreciation. He began with speaking about the mitzvah of Bikurim, which requires us to bring the first fruit, but there is no limit and no set amount. A person brings his first fruits to the kohen and acknowledges that Hashem did this for him. The Torah states, “You will be happy with all the good that Hashem gave you.” The question Rabbi Mansour posed is: “How does the mitzvah of Bikurim make you happy?”
He explained that people would travel to Yerushalayim with their baskets of first fruits, and other people would come out to greet them. Imagine that you went in front of a judge and you were in a big court case. Then imagine that you took out a carrot or gourd and said in front of the judge: “My sins are forgiven.”
We are asking Hashem to give us a good year, and what are we doing? We are eating food. The Arizal taught that you are not supposed to cry from pain on Rosh HaShanah. We celebrate Rosh HaShanah on Alef Tishrei because that was the day that Hashem created the first man, and the creation of man was the purpose of the world. Sadly, man brought death to the world by eating something desirable to the eye. This sin was the root of all sins. The woman saw food that was desirable to the eye. She wanted to enjoy it for the sake of enjoying it. On Rosh HaShanah, we have to come and fix this problem of temptation of the eye.
One great rav suggested that we accept on ourselves to recite brachos out loud. Rav Zusha taught the ideal that we eat an apple so we can recite the brachah, instead of reciting the brachah so we can eat an apple. Hashem created so many beautiful fruits and vegetables in beautiful colors that can’t be duplicated. Why did Hashem make so many and such a variety of fruits? Rabbi Mansour suggested that Hashem wanted us to enjoy these foods. When a person brings first fruits and declares, “I realize these fruits come from Hashem,” he starts appreciating life.
Rabbi Mansour then spoke about why people feel sad during a challenge. They think that what they have acquired is because they acquired it. On the other hand, if a person says, “I give my first paycheck to Hashem,” then he is putting into his system the idea that Hashem gave him this job, and that is the only reason he received a paycheck. When someone sees that G-d is taking care of him, then he is happy. “The minute you realize that Hashem loves you so much and takes care of you so much, it is impossible not to appreciate it.”
Once, a student spied on the Chofetz Chaim when the Chofetz Chaim was davening. The student noticed that when the Chofetz Chaim reached Modim, he took a very long time. Later, the student asked the Chofetz Chaim why he took so long at that point in his davening, and the Chofetz Chaim explained that he was listing things that he had to thank Hashem for. Rabbi Mansour reiterated that if the beginning goes to G-d, then you are happy. When you learn Torah in the morning, the day is different.
On Rosh HaShanah, we say to Hashem that food was the cause of the destruction, and we say, “I see food and I see You and I can connect more to You. Hashem is telling you that I gave you the fruit to get closer to me. Rabbi Mansour concluded that Hashem wants us to be happy.