("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 Refush Sheleima of Shalva Adina Bas Sarah Chana)
A Wonderful apocryphal story is told about an old Israeli prime minister who was meeting with a US President.
The President asked the Prime Minister how things were going. “Terrible,” came the Prime Minister’s reply. The President seemed troubled as to why the Prime Minister might react so strongly and asked for clarification.
“Let me explain,” said the prime minister. “I live in a country with 8 million people. It is difficult to constantly try to please everyone. Someone is always gunning for my job making it almost impossible to get anything done.”
“By that logic,” said the President, “I should be in worse shape than you are. You are only a leader of a county of 8 million. I have closer to 80 million. Why don’t I feel what you feel?”
“It’s simple,” said the Prime Minister. “You live in a country of 80 million and one president. I live in a country with 8 million presidents.”
The Alter of Kelm explains that the trait of being stubborn is unfortunately the main reason that Hashem seems to come down hard on Bnei Yisroel during the terrible Eigel HaZahav episode. While it is true that the people had sinned and committed a terrible breach in their relationship with Hashem, the fact that they remain K’Sheh Oiref – stubborn – left them unable to hear critique and introspect in order to grow. Teshuva can only happen when a person allows himself to consider a different perspective in his ways and practices in life. Stubbornness will always hold that process off.
Are we too stubborn to be open to change? Why?
Are there times when being stubborn is actually a positive trait?
How are we to know when we are being stubborn and when we are being steadfast?
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.