“Then we cried out to Hashem, the G-d of our forefathers, and Hashem heard our voice
and saw our affliction, our toil and our oppression” Devarim 26:7
The Ohr HaChaim provides us with a beautiful narrative of the pasukim at the beginning of this week’s Parsha, which outline the special mitzvah of Bikkurim; the ritual bringing of the first fruits of one’s field every year (except for Shemittah) up to the Beis Hamikdash. As part of the Bikkurim process, the one who presents his fruits in the Beis HaMikdash must read specific passages from the Torah. These pasukim detail the tale of our nations descent into exile in Egypt, and how we were ultimately redeemed. (These are the same pasukim that we recite on the Seder night of Pesach.) The Ohr HaChaim explains the pasuk describing how we cried out to Hashem to redeem us and how Hashem chose to save us when He “saw” our allegiance to our Torah lifestyle. The words “And we cried out to Hashem” teach us that we must beseech Hashem every day to save us from our evil inclination and then Hashem will answer our prayers because He sees our loyalty to Him. The Ohr HaChaim explains that the word ״ענינו״ ,which literally means “our affliction”, has the root of the word ״עני״ – “poor” and may therefore be referring to the frugal existence of those who devote their lives to Torah learning. (The Ohr HaChaim adds that even though we sometimes do find that there are Bnei Torah who are financially stable, they are still required to live simply for that is the way of the Torah.) עמלנו״“ – “Our toil”, is referring to our toil in the Torah, especially today in our
current generation, which requires us to expend tremendous effort just to clarify even one halacha. לחצנו״” – “Our oppression” – may be an indication of the pressure felt by those who take upon themselves the yoke of supporting the Talmidei Chachamim. They may feel suffocated by the deluge of requests for Tzeddakah as all eyes turn to them for assistance.
Hashem recognized these telling codes of conduct and the way of life that our forefathers in Egypt maintained even while under immense duress, and heeded their plea for redemption. The non-ostentatious lifestyle coupled with a genuine pursuit of gleaning true Torah knowledge while striving to pitch in and lend a helping hand to a struggling companion is a time tested equation for success. It helped our ancestors witness redemption and can help us as well to invoke the mercy of Hashem at this crucial juncture before the New Year.