Bikkurim, Chapter Three, Mishnah Six

 

Introduction

This mishnah explains at what precise point in the procedure the verses from Deuteronomy 26 were actually recited. In order to better understand this mishnah, I will bring here the biblical verses that it explains:

 

3 You shall go to the priest in charge at that time and say to him, “I acknowledge this day before the LORD your God that I have entered the land that the LORD swore to our fathers to assign us.”

 4 The priest shall take the basket from your hand and set it down in front of the altar of the LORD your God.

 5 You shall then recite as follows before the LORD your God: “My father was a fugitive Aramean. He went down to Egypt with meager numbers and sojourned there; but there he became a great and very populous nation.

 6 The Egyptians dealt harshly with us and oppressed us; they imposed heavy labor upon us.

 7 We cried to the LORD, the God of our fathers, and the LORD heard our plea and saw our plight, our misery, and our oppression.

 8 The LORD freed us from Egypt by a mighty hand, by an outstretched arm and awesome power, and by signs and portents.

 9 He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.

 10 Wherefore I now bring the first fruits of the soil which You, O LORD, have given me.” You shall leave it before the LORD your God and bow low before the LORD your God.

 

 

Mishnah Six

1)      While the basket was still on his shoulder he recites from: “I acknowledge this day before the LORD your God that I have entered the land that the LORD swore to our fathers to assign us” (Deuteronomy 26:3) until he completes the passage.  

2)      Rabbi Judah said: until [he reaches] “My father was a fugitive Aramean” (v. 5).

a)      When he reaches, “My father was a fugitive Aramean”, he takes the basket off his shoulder and holds it by its edges, and the priest places his hand beneath it and waves it.

b)      He then recites from “My father was a fugitive Aramean” until he completes the entire passage.

3)      He then deposits the basket by the side of the altar, bow and depart.

 

Explanation

Section one: According to the first opinion in the mishnah, the entire passage is read while the basket is still on his shoulders. He would then take the basket off his shoulders and leave it at the altar, as it states in section ten.

Section two: Rabbi Judah disagrees and says that only verse 3 is recited while he has the basket on his shoulder. After that point, he lowers the basket and he and the priest jointly hold it and wave it, in the same way that many offerings are waved before the altar. This is also the same opinion found in 2:4 above.

We should note that Rabbi Judah might be making an attempt to resolve a certain difficulty in the verses. Verse 4 says that the priest shall take it from your hand, implying that one says verse 3, then the priest takes the basket and then one continues with verses 5-9 while the priest holds the basket. However, verse 10 says that at that point shall he leave the basket, perhaps implying that while reciting verses 5-9 he was still holding the basket. Rabbi Judah seems to resolve this difficulty by positing that they jointly hold the basket while he recites verses 5-9.

Section three: This section returns to being everyone’s opinion. He puts the basket down and leaves, as is explicitly stated in verse 10.

 

 

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