A Double Holiday
Ein Harod, Bikkurim Ceremony 1937
Both First Fruits Festival and Holiday of the Giving of the Torah
My friends, have you felt this privilege, the privilege of reviving an ancient custom, sanctifying an ancient custom; such that our generation has been given; a custom with such meaning and so much culture inherent in it. It tells us that we are a people, and that we were not born yesterday. We now sanctify customs dating back three thousand years, and this holiday still maintains its meaning and its freshness. We were not born yesterday. We have experienced and seen much. The chain of generations is complete. We now continue with it. All of the good from our past, from ancient times, we shall renew and sanctify. And that which is foreign to us, we shall remove; a glorious yet innovative past. A fresh, vibrant holiday we celebrate in continuity with the past. Have we learned to appreciate the existing foundation (Keren Hakayemet)? Without it we are dust in the wind. And this is the day on which we shall appreciate the great value of this foundation, which has given us this valley around us, and that is destined to give us and redeem us many more lands in the future...
Today is not just the Holiday of Bikkurim (first fruits), itself worthy of celebrating with all our enthusiasm; rather, today is also the holiday of the giving of the Torah, given to us by one G-d, seeing without being seen. This Torah has given us the human conscience, it too seeing without being seen. It has given us the Sabbath, a day of cessation from work and rest for workers after six days of work. A Torah that has liberated slaves wherever they may be...
In those ancient times, two wonders of the world came into being: The pyramids in Egypt and the Torah of the Jewish people. The pyramids erected by the toil of Israel exist and lie still and cold as stone, as opposed to the pyramid of the Torah of Israel, whose spirit fills the world. This is the Torah that demands one law for foreigners and residents; a Torah that commands you to remember that you too were once a slave, and calls for the freeing of all slaves. The Torah is living moral pyramid given as law by a merciful G-d.
Today is a double holiday: the Holiday of Bikkurim and also the holiday of the giving of the Torah. Our culture is thousands of years old, and we continue in our cultural path.