("Let's table the discussion" is a new Adath Israel Shul initiative where a story or thought is presented in order to stimulate exciting and constructive discussion around our Shabbos table or among friends and children.)
The police caught a criminal.
Upon his arrest, he was incarcerated for his crime of theft. Eventually, he was sent to trial to be tried for the theft. Throughout the trial different witnesses were presented by both the prosecution and the defense to establish guilt or innocence of the man of the charges.
In the end, he was found guilty and sentenced to a term of imprisonment of two years. In his sentencing, the judge noted that facts were facts and the crime was a crime. “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime” were his parting words as the criminal was convicted.
And so, he was sent into the penitentiary system. There he mingled with criminals whose crimes were bigger than his. There he was introduced to the latest tricks of the trade. Our criminal found a full education daily as he walked among the thieves in the prison courtyard. By the time he was released, he came out a more dangerous man than he went in.
The Maggid Rav Yaakov Galinski ztl. used to note that man’s system of punishment is different from Hashem’s. While man seeks to redress and reproach those who commit crime and infraction, Hashem chooses a different path – Middah K’negged Middah.
While incarceration might be in a “Department of Corrections” it is Hashem’s system of justice that makes sure that there is justice in the punishment – and opportunity to learn from the experience and improve upon it.
What about us? Sometimes we need to punish children. Do we punish in measure in order to make sure that the punishment becomes a system of education and restoration or do we merely punish because we are angry at what one child did? Do we punish as a lesson for them or for us?
And in our own lives – when things are not exactly “going our way” how might we take the opportunity to try to see where we can reconnect to Hashem and in what way we might find guidance to help us through a tough period in life?
Let’s “table” the discussion – by discussing it with our children, spouses, families and guests and open an exciting discussion into our homes and communities.