("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.)
There once was a bird who loved to fly. Each year he would fly South for the winter and North in the spring to avoid the hot summer. He found his particularly happy spots in the South and North and would repeatedly, almost habitually, camp out in the exact same winter and summer homes.
That is, until one brutal, frosty, November morning.
On the day in question, our friend the bird, found himself settling into his regular winter abode, somewhere near Miami Beach. He loved the warmth of the coast and the crisp, blue-green waters and looked forward to a relaxing winter of peace, quiet and above all, fresh air.
And that’s when he smelled it -- the noxious odor that he had never smelled before. It permeated his nose and made his happy home a place of terror. The bird panicked. How would he last the winter in a place someone else had made vile!
So he made plans to leave Miami Beach and try North Miami. He gave up on the beach and the sand and sold off his beach spot to another bird. Now without the complete Atlantic Ocean at his disposal, not to mention the lack of tourist leftovers, he was somewhat discomforted but satisfied that he was far away from the smell. But as soon as he settled back on the shore of the bay, he smelled it again!. Up he went packing out and seeking a new spot – first Key West and then trying further North – Boca Raton, Orlando, Tampa, Tallahassee – and in each one, he smelled the same nauseating smell. The bird worried that the entire Sunshine State had gone bad and he began to freak out about what he was going to do for the entire winter.
As he moped around in the state’s capital, a rainstorm broke out, drenching the bird. “Just my luck,” he thought. “I have no home, no dinner and now, not even any shelter from the rain. All I have is that terrible smell.” But of course, as soon as the storm ended, and the bird dried himself off, he noticed the smell was gone. It had been travelling with him the whole time. “Now if I only had discovered that in Miami…”
Rav Yaakov Yosef of Polynoe quotes the Baal Shem Tov who notes that one who is constantly moving to avoid his troubles, is like a pregnant woman who transfers hospitals to avoid labor pains. No matter where you run, the trouble goes with you.
At the same time, the Talmud (Bava Kama 60b) explains that when there is a famine in a city, it is time to move. Elsewhere, the Talmud (Bava Metzia 75b) adds that if a person does not like a particular community, he should move to another one. When and under which circumstances is it upon us to distance ourselves for the purpose of family-betterment and Histadlus is a subject that is best discussed on a case by case basis.
One thing is clear – the Steipler ztl. once noted that a person can never run away from one thing – himself.
When are we best off facing our challenges head on and when are we best off just moving away?
What are the best ways to engage problems and when is disengagement called for?
What do we do when we can’t just run away?
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.