In this past week’s parsha we read about the one who brings bikurim, the first fruits of his field, to the Beis Hamikdash to express gratitude to Hashem. What is the reason that he has to make the declaration of ארמי אובד אבי? Why does he have to he mention that Avraham Avinu was a lost Aramean, a wandering person who left his home and had to traverse through foreign lands?
It’s a principle that the Gemara teaches us: מתחיל בגנות ומסיים בשבח — We begin our expressions of gratitude with our low state, and we conclude with our celebrated state. That’s why on Pesach we start with הא לחמא עניא – “This is the bread of affliction;” because when a man is successful, he should always remember the days of his poverty. It’s a sickness of Mankind to forget the past and not to be grateful. And therefore, we begin thanking Hashem by remembering the years of our affliction; we talk about the early time of our history when Avraham Avinu left his family on his own and he was traveling alone as a stranger in strange lands. And we work our way up until we come to, “And now we are in the land that You promised our fathers and we are enjoying the happiness of living in Eretz Yisroel.”
It’s a lesson for us. Every time a person succeeds, he should never forget his poor days. That’s why when the Chashmonaim made a feast to celebrate their victories, they used to put poor herbs, meluchim, on their table. And they said, “Our forefathers used to eat meluchim, poor herbs, when they were building the Beis Hamikdash.” They put the inexpensive herbs on their golden tables because they didn’t want to forget their poor beginning.
So any one of you who will someday succeed and you will become a multi-millionaire, once in a while, bring forth some of the old habiliments, some of the old clothing that you left over, as a way of remembering the days when you didn’t dress in gold and diamonds. You take out your old worn-out suit as a zecher and take a look at it. And that will encourage you in your gratitude to Hakodosh Boruch Hu.
TAPE # 309