("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.)
In the Midwest during the pioneering days, a group of settlers sat at a town hall meeting.
“We are all equals” , they declared. “And in order to demonstrate that equality, we are all entitled to equal shares of land in the wilderness here.” A vote was taken and the proposal was so determined. The land in the area surrounding the town was quickly divided up into portions for each of the townspeople.
Some of the new land owners immediately took their new wealth responsibly. Some in this group developed the land, built apartment buildings and developments. Others, began to plow the land and plant on it. These groups reaped huge benefits from the bounty that they had been given and parlayed it into greater bounty and reward.
Others in the town told themselves that they had time. “Why worry? We already have the land, ” they declared. “When we need to, we will work. Why would we need to now?”
At the end of the season, they all met again and discovered that there was a new wealth class system in the town, but that there was growth everywhere. Where the people toiled to take what they had and to grow it, there was bounty and means for further growth and enhancement. Those who chose to do nothing also experienced growth – on their land, thorns, thistles and weeds grew in abundance.
Rav Shalom Schwadron uses this story to highlight a Mishna we use to introduce Pirkei Avos. We declare “Kol Yisroel Yeish Lahem Chelek B’olam Haba.” (every Jew has a share in the world to come) But the issue is not to merely own a portion in the most coveted of places. While every Jew starts with a Cheilek (portion), what are we doing to work our portion and develop it? How are we taking the time and effort to better our lives in the next world by working in this one? And like the farmer or real estate developer who works hard in the growing season, who recognize that a little hard work now is worth it for the long term comfort in the future, are we planning to improve our lot in the future or are we hoping that it just grows on its own?
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.