Tzav 5775 – Thanksgiving

If he is bringing a thanksgiving offering (Vayikra 7:12)

No, the offering in the above verse is not brought only the fourth Thursday of November each year. It was actually brought by individuals on most of the days of the year (there were only a few days when it was not brought), but we’ll discuss this offering in a little bit.

If you walk into many supermarkets today, you will see large displays of matzah and macaroons. That’s because Pesach is coming. We are told that at our Seder, the Haggadah begins with our shame and ends with our praise. We mention that originally we were idol worshippers and then we received the Torah. There is another opinion which says that we mention we were slaves and then we were freed. Either way, why did we have to go through the shame and why do we mention it year after year? Aren’t we embarrassed that we were on such a low level?

The answer is the true way to appreciate something is to remember the shame. When a person looks back at what he was and then sees what he has become, he learns to be grateful. If we just see what happened at the end and don’t remember the beginning, we still have gratitude, but it is not to the same extent. When we see how far we truly have come, we are thankful.

There are four people who bring the Karbon Toda (thanksgiving offering). One of them is a person who is freed from prison. As Tehillim 107 states, a person in jail “sit[s] in darkness and the shadow of death.” When he is freed and comes out to the world again, he is extremely thankful. He saw how sad and lonely life can be. When we wake up every morning and walk through the streets, we do not have much thankfulness. The freed prisoner has tremendous gratitude, though, because he knows the alternatives.

A person can grow into a great person if he works on being a thankful person. One way to do this is to remember the low times from the past and look at how great you have it now. This type of person will always be thankful and will live a happier life.

Good Shabbos!
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