Chazal tell us that when the farmers bringing the bikurim would pass by, the craftsmen in the cities would stop their work in honor of those involved in this mitzvah. The Alshich asks what is so significant in particular about this mitzvah, that Chazal thought it was necessary to mandate honoring those involved?
To answer this he quotes a Medrash Rabah in Parshas Bereishis which states “bereishis bara,” meaning in the merit of things that are “reishis” (first) such as bikurim, the World was created. Giving “reishis” to Hashem is an expression of hakaras hatov, and Chazal are telling us that the bedrock of our world is hakaras hatov.
People in their daily lives go about their business with certain understandings, which are indeed correct. But sometimes though they ‘know’ what they are doing, they do not live that ideal. An example of this is a person who has an important deal that he would like to push through. He goes to shul early in the morning and davens with extra kavana, so that in the merit of his prayer the deal should go through. However, while davening his cellphone rings and he sees that it is the other party of the deal calling. What should he do? He feels an unbelievable urge to answer the phone. Should he answer it? Or should he continue to daven to Hashem that the deal should be successful?
This hypocrisy of davening for parnasa while at the same time feeling that one must ‘cheat’ on his tefillah and answer the phone in order to gain parnasa is an example of understanding something, but not living it.
I would like to add to the thought of the Alshich, that not only is it important for the farmer to recognize the goodness of Hashem by bringing his bikkurim, but Chazal also felt it was important for craftsmen to stop their work. Since they stop to acknowledge the farmers bringing the bikurim, they should also be reflecting on the good that Hashem bestows upon them. When we see events around us happening to others, whether good or bad, we should take note and understand that it is a message to us as well.