The beracha of Al Hamichya which is recited after partaking from the seven praiseworthy agricultural products of Eretz Yisrael is called Maiain Shalosh an abridged version of the three faceted berachos of Birkas Hamazon. It contains the same themes of Benching such as על המחיה ועל הכלכלה ועל תנובת השדה which corresponds to the first beracha of Benching Birkas Hazan. ועל ארץ חמדה טובה corresponds to the second beracha of נודה לך . The phrases of רחם נא parallels the third beracha in Birkas Hamazon רחם. The ובנה ירושלים refers to the ובנה ירושלים of the Bentching which ends the third beracah.
Now if the Al Hamichya is the abridged form of Birkas Hamazon which now reads with the barest minimum of the original text, why then do we encounter references that are not at all mentioned in the Birkas Hamazon? For instance,על מזבחך ועל היכליך that Hashem should have mercy on His alter and Temple are two terms entirely absent in the Birkas Hamazon?
The Pachad Yitzchak answered that we find that the source of the Al Hamichya Beracha finds is in the mitzvah of Bikkurim, the opening subject of this week’s parsha. In the beginning of the sixth perek in Berachos the gemarrah discusses the source for making a beracha after eating food. For instance, one is required to make the Al Hamichya beracha after eating from the seven species. The gemarrah derives this obligation from where the Torah lists off the seven species and then writes ואכלת ושבעת וברכת את ה’ אלקיך the mitzvah to bentch Hashem (Devarim 8,10). From here the gemarrah wants to apply this same teaching to berachos recited after all foods. The gemarrah refutes this proof by saying that the Al Hamichya beracha is a unique situation that requires a beracha acharonah after consuming them since specifically with the seven species one fulfills the mitzvah of Bikkurim.
Explains the Pachad Yitzchak that it is therefore that that the Anshei Keneeses Hagadola inserted the extra mention of mizbeiach in the text of Al Hamichaya even though it is absent in the Birkas Hamazon. They wanted to convey that the source of this beracha is Bikkurim upon where the passuk states that the Kohen would place the basket of produce before the alter of Hashem near the Haichal.
To this thought Rav Yitzchak Alster added that for the same reason our Chachamim inserted a text also absent in the Birkas Hamazon yet found in the Al Hamichya which is ושמחנו בבנינה gladden us with the building of the Beis Hamikdash. This phrase we also find in the Bikkurim context (Devarim 26,11) ושמחת בכל הטוב which refers to the Beis Hamikdash which is called tov (Hoshaiah 3,5,Rashi).
Let us expand on this idea further. The sefarim explain that the bringing of Bikkurim was a tikkun for the sin of Adam Harishon and his eating from the Aitz Hadaas. This is hinted in the Rashi (Devarm 26, 2) that a person goes down to his field and sees a fig that ripened and he ties around it a grass called gemi and says this is designated for the mitzvah of Bikkuriim. In the Mishnah in Meseches Bikkurim it mentions two other scenarios such as a cluster of grapes or a pomegranate. Why did Rashi only choose the example of the fig? The sefarim explain that Rashi was alluding to the Aitz Hadaas which was a fig tree as the passuk says that after the sin Adam and Chava covered themselves with fig leaves as part of the tikkun (Rashi Bereishis 3,7). Their failing was that they did not possess the patience to wait until Shabbos to eat from the Aitz Hadaas which then would have been permitted. This is hinted in the passuk ומעץ הדעת טוב (Bereishis 2,17) is gematriah שבת. This reveals that the Aitz Hadaas with the coming of Shabbos would have gone through a total expelling process on Shabbos being rid of any evil it possessed leaving only the good as hinted in this gematriah. Would Adam have held back until Shabbos he would have been able to eat from the Aitz Hadaas and bring the world to its ultimate shelaimus.
Chazal say that Adam’s body was created from earth under the future mizbeich in the Beis Hamikdash the place of Man’s atonement. Hashem’s intention was that if he sins there will be available to him a built in ability to do teshuvah (Bereishis Rabba 14,8, Rambam Beis Habechirah 2,2). The nature of the mizbeiach was that it had a “kevesh” a ramp ascending to its top in contrast to stairs. This ramp involuntarily forced one to ascend carefully and not run lest he will trip and fall. This parsha of the mizbeich at the end of Yisro and the parsha of Mishpatim which deals with the judgments of civil laws are juxtaposed to each other. The mizbeiach therefore sent the message of the necessity of the middah of patience in deliberation in contrast to hastiness in the processing of decisions. As it says in the first Mishnah of Pirkei Avos ,1,1 הוו מתונים בדין. For if one is too hasty in making important decisions he will eventually reveal his nakedness which are his faulty middos which led him astray from arriving at the correct decision (Shmos 23,20).
Through practicing and incorporating this middah of patience to become one’s second nature which is the lesson of the mizbaiach, Man will achieve atonement. For by reaching deep into his essence of his physical component of earth from which he was created, it will act as a harness and reins to restrain any impetuous behavior or sudden craving of the body. For we find that the mizbaich was the place where a sinner would go to bring a korban to receive atonement. The cause of the sin in the first place was the entrance of “shetus” foolishness from the yetzer hara which did not allow man to think of the ramifications of his actions and the distortion of his deed. Rather he was duped into focusing only on the rush and the craving of the fleeting moment by being made to believe that this is his entire world at this very moment.
Bikkurim is with the fig the same fruit which Adam ate that caused his banishment from Gan Eden for lacking the patience to wait for Shabbos. In the Yalkut Shimoni Bereishis 1 it says that Adam ate from the Aitz Hadaas during the tenth hour of Erev Shabbos. Had he waited three more hours it would have been permitted and even encouraged to be eaten. This could be the pshat in the Hoshanas of Succos that we say הושענא נא שלש שעות save us from those three hours. We are pleading to Hashem to help us have the patience and restraint from indulging in our urges for physical cravings at a moment’s passion and notice. The three hours symbolize the grave sin of Adam, a small period during which he did not possess the patience to wait and restrain himself. We ask Hashem to be saved from those three hours that caused Man’s downfall until today and that we should be girded with the patience to hold back from making a rash decision concerning our entertaining of physical cravings.
The same scenario of Adam in the Gan is repeated with the mitzvah of Bikkurim. The Yid must wait to partake from his first ripened fruit which is the prize of his labor until he ascends to Yerushalayim to the Beis Hamikdash. He ties around that first fruit the fig a גמי which is gematriah גן to remind him that the zechus to remain in the gan or to be banished from it was dependent upon the ability to restrain his taavah and push it off just a little more longer. Chava gave Adam to eat because of the word “gam” (Bereishis 3,6 Rashi) ותתן גם לאשה עמה ויאכל. The gammi tied on the fruit is to strengthen the Yid not to be swayed by the drive for the instant gratification of the fleeting moment.
The woman’s mitzvah on Erev Shabbos is to bake bread for shabbos and perform the mitzvah of taking challah. Chazal tell us that the reason this mitzvah is performed by the woman on Erev Shabbos is because Adam was called the challah of the world and she caused it to be polluted by giving Adam to eat from the Aitz Hadaas. For man’s body like dough was formed by Hashem’s mixing the earth of the mizbaiach with water and then shaping it. She rectifies her wrong doing by sanctifying a piece of the challah dough instead of profaning it by the chait of Aitz Hadaas. Chava was motivated by the גם as Rashi explained and it has the gematriah of חלה. Also remarkable is that the volume measure needed to be obligated in the mitzvah of separating the challah dough is the volume of 43 eggs which is also the gematriah of גם.
One must take the Bikkurim to the Beis Hamikdash and it is to be placed in front of the Mizbeiach. The virtuous individual who succeeds in bringing his basket of Bikkurim to the mizbeiach has demonstrated that he has attained the greatness of self control and is not manipulated by the media and advertisement world that surrounds us with the battle cry of Obey Your Thirst. He is the unsung hero who has rectified to a certain extent the chait of Aitz Hadaas for which Man is still suffering for until today. At the mizbeiach he gives testimony that as a descendant of the first Man he has brought an atonement to the origin of his creation to the very place that serves as the constant teaching and reminderהוו מתונים בדין . Whenever we make judgments for ourselves and for others, let us think it through clearly and thoroughly, lest we reveal our nakedness from our errors.
The Al Hamichya Beracha has its source in Bikkurim. Bikkurim is a testimony to man’s ability to say no to the gratification of the instant pleasure without first processing it as objectively as possible. Rather one must wait and wait until the proper time has arrived to partake from his deep desire that he has restrained himself from up until now. He has truly learned the teachings of the mizbeich from where Adam was created and therefore its mention is inserted in this beracha which draws its power from the declaration of the Bikkurim.
From all the above we should learn one thing upon which we can improve. That is to say Al Hamichya with patience. After all the origin of the beracha comes from Bikkurim whose entire essence is to demonstrate one’s ability to have this middah and thereby rectify the chait of Aitz Hadaas. Reading from the text instead of by heart will help in this endeavor in bringing us closer to Moshiach and the geulah.
Gut Shabbos Rav Brazil
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