("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 was a certain electrical company worker whose job it was, to watch all the switches that controlled all the electricity that went from the electric company throughout the town and the city. His job was relatively boring – after all things ran like clockwork. In case of emergency, all he had to do was reach up and flip a switch – simply resetting a fuse at his control station would bring power to run hospitals, continued to move trapped elevators, and allow city life to continue.
Therefore, the individual knew he could, for the most part, sit at his job and read. He was able to go ahead and scan the Internet. For so long as nothing was wrong, why should he interrupt himself simply because of a trivial matter like his shift?
One day, crisis befell the city. Darkness descended as electricity and power were cut. Even in the control room, where our electrical worker sat, the world became dark. The worker jumped up prepared for action. Do you think that he ran to the control board to pick up the switch? Do you think he took the responsibility to protect the citizens from the thieves who love the dark?
He fumbled around the control room looking for something. Happily, he found what he wanted inside a drawer. He simply pulled out a flashlight and sat back down on his chair – for with a flashlight he was able to resume his reading.
Rav Avraham HaKohein of Tunisia used to tell the story to highlight a major difference between Avraham and Shem and Ever, his predecessors and teachers. Citing the Kessef Mishneh (Hilchos Avoda Chapter one), who notes the difference in that Shem V’Ever merely concerned themselves with teaching their students while Avraham busied himself not only with worrying about his own but about teaching the masses as well. Avraham didn’t merely content himself when he was OK –he worried about everyone and was not OK until they were ok.
The message speaks volumes in its own right. We are told to emulate the actions of our patriarchs and matriarchs. If Avraham did not rest until he knew everyone was OK, can we?
Besides, what does “being ok” mean? After all, if one refuses to take charge of his/her own life and s/he has the ability to do so are we to continue to go beyond the letter of the law here as well? What about when the person actively flaunts common sense and chooses not to be OK- what do we do then?
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.