("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.)
They tell the story of an elderly, scholarly Jew who, due to the old age, had forgotten most of his Torah learning. His condition had deteriorated so seriously that he no longer recognized the simple letters of the Alef Bet. The matter distressed him so badly, that he asked the doctors if there was any way the fix the situation.
“There’s only one solution,” they said. “If you want to reteach yourself how to learn, you will need to start at the bottom again. You’ll need to go and learn in preschool with the youngsters and learn Alef Bet one more time.”
Committed, he attended the preschool. However, after a few days, he noticed something within himself. He began to think and act, like a child. He would argue and fight with the other children like a preschooler, he would taunt the others as a preschooler might, and in general, his behavior and conduct was normal for the young age of his classmates but clearly out of character for himself.
The Rebbe of the class pulled him aside and chided him. “Even if your academic level is that of a child, you must never forget that that you are an older, wiser and more respected individual. Your actions and conduct must reflect that of your station in life.
Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaKohein Kook ztl. once offered this example to the members of a certain Kibbutz in the land of Israel which was known to be staunchly anti-religion but very focused on labor. Rav Kook reminded the kibbutzniks that after the Jewish nation was kicked out of Eretz Yisrael, we were sent into a long and dark exile within which we forgot both the how and the why to work the land.
Rav Kook cautioned the group that now that we are free once again to work the rich, spiritual land of Israel. The process of working the land requires us often to start at the beginning, by engaging in the seemingly mundane activities of plowing, and planting and wedding and the like. However, we are never to forget the great spiritual significance and the great legacy that is part of the link of the Jew to his land. We may work like farmers but our work is being done by princes.
Too often, people suffer from an overload of “things we have to DO” which prevent us from taking the time out to remember WHY we really are doing them. How can we find meaning in the mundane routines of daily life?
How can we take the special opportunities of being Jewish and let it guide the purpose, focus and pride in everything we do?
Let’s “table” the discussion – by discussing it with our children, spouses, families and guests and open an exciting discussion into our homes and community.