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. (Dedicated to the Refuah Sheleima of Shalva Adina Bas Sarah Chana & Eliyahu Aharon BenYetta Ettel).
Daniel was exhausted after many hours of driving on the lonely highway. Every bone in his body longed for rest. When he couldn’t pay attention any longer, he pulled his car to the side of the road, pushed his seat back and sank into a deep sleep.
All was still, not a soul could be heard on the highway in either direction. Only the snoring of the driver broke the silence of the scene.
And then, an armed thief approached from behind Daniel’s car. He moved swiftly until he was closely behind Daniel’s vehicle. He pulled over and quietly started to creep up to his victim, Daniel. He was about to break into the car when he noticed the headlights moving in the other direction.
“Oh, No!” thought the thief, “this is a police sting. I’d better run away.”
Little did he know that the car coming from the other direction was also that of a criminal intending and searching for HIS next victim on the lonely highway. He too, noticed a figure near Daniel’s car and thought that the criminal, was in fact a protector too. He prepared to fight.
Daniel awoke to the commotion of 2 thieves fighting with one another. He quickly figured out that they were fighting for the chance to rob him. “Let them fight one another over my possessions as I take the opportunity to sneak away,” he thought.
And so it was, by the time the two criminals had stopped fighting, their intended victim, his car and all of its contents had disappeared beyond the horizon.
In telling a version of this tale, the Ben Ish Chai notes that evil can assume many forms with 2 almost diametrically opposing emotional stances – lust and desire for eating, drinking and other pleasure or depression and wailing, sadness and anxiety. Those who are attracted to living for pleasure alone are driven by a power of evil but the same is true for those who despair due to hopelessness. Both deny a higher purpose in life – Living for the will of Hashem.
Life provides us with times to express emotions. Judaism encourages us to understand the diversity of emotional experience and the need to harness and utilize the power of emotion in serving Hashem genuinely. At times, he will try to experience joy and despair will try to thwart his efforts. At other times, he will want to experience sadness and the fear of “being too depressed” will hold him back from harnessing that emotion as well.
The real trick is to allow the emotional forces of merriment and hopelessness to fight one another and allow himself to serve Hashem in the way he feels is best.
How can YOU use your various emotions to create a more wholesome Jewish living experience?
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.