Bikkurim, Chapter Two, Mishnah Four



Sometimes bikkurim has unique laws that apply only to it and not to terumah or maaser.


Mishnah Four

And there are [laws] which apply to bikkurim which do not [apply] to terumah or maaser sheni:

1)      For bikkurim can become acquired while still attached [to the soil].  

2)      And a man may make his entire field bikkurim;

3)      He is responsible for them;

4)      And they require a sacrifice, a song, waving and spending the night in Jerusalem.



Section one:  One can designate produce to be bikkurim while it is still attached to the ground. That would not work when it comes to terumah or maaser. These can only be designated as such once they have already been harvested.

Section two: One can make one’s entire field into bikkurim, but one cannot make one’s entire threshing floor into terumah or maaser (see Hallah 1:9). Perhaps this is a result of terumah and maaser having set amounts—since there is a set amount, one cannot make the entire crop into terumah or maaser.

Section three: As we learned in 1:9, one is responsible for his bikkurim until they get to the Temple Mount. In contrast, if one sets aside terumah or maaser and they spoil or are lost, he is not responsible to replace them.

Section four: When one brings bikkurim to the Temple, he must also bring a well-being sacrifice. This is derived from Deuteronomy 26:11, which states, “And you shall enjoy, together with the Levite and the stranger in your midst, all the bounty that the LORD your God has bestowed upon you and your household.” The rabbis understand this mitzvah as being a mitzvah to bring a sacrifice and rejoice in eating it.

There is also a Psalm, called by our mishnah a song, that accompanies the bikkurim (we will see this in chapter three, mishnah four).

When one presents the basket to the priest, he waves it as if it was a sacrifice (more on this below in 3:6).

Finally, one who brings bikkurim to Jerusalem must spend the night there. This was probably done in order to help the innkeepers of Jerusalem make a living, and in order to aid in the festive atmosphere of the bikkurim procession. Funnily, I grew up in Atlantic City and one of the big complaints there was that people would come to gamble for the day and not stay the night. Perhaps the hoteliers should have had some rabbis help them out!