> Weekly Torah Portion > Beginner > Art of Revelation

First Fruits

Ki Tavo (Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8 )

by Yoram and Meira Raanan

"Bikkurim," 2014, acrylic on canvas, 70 x 100 cm.

When you come to the land that God, your Lord, is giving you as a heritage…you shall take the first of every fruit of the ground... You must place it in a basket and go to the place which God will choose... [Thus] you shall rejoice with all the good that God has granted you and your family... (Deuteronomy 26:1-2, 11)

The first fruits, the Bikkurim, were brought from the seven species for which the Land of Israel is praised: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. The Mishnah describes the actual practice of this mitzvah: when a famer saw the first fruits had ripened, he would tie a thread around them and say, "Behold, these are Bikkurim," thus devoting the first fruits to God. This produce later would be placed in simple baskets made from peeled willows and reeds, then brought to the Holy Temple, with gratitude for these gifts of the land.

In the painting, alizarin crimson pomegranates, with calyxes shaped like crowns, are interspersed with luscious purple figs in a basket "woven" with swirling lines. Surrounded by green leafy branches, the basket is set against a vivacious blue and white sky, reflecting the ultimate elevation of the first fruits that are given together with the simple vessel of twigs. The free strokes of paint and color convey the celebratory note of this joyous occasion.

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