("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.)
One particular Friday, the Rebbe, Rabbi Meir of Primishlan sought out his Chassidim in order to teach them an important lesson.”Clearly, you are all aware of the food chain,” the Rebbe noted. “Each animal feeds on vegetation and or smaller creatures in order to sustain itself. But what do fish eat?” He asked.
The chassidim quickly noted that fish eat smaller fish in order to sustain themselves. “True,” answered the Rebbe “but unlike the fisherman who uses nets and traps to catch the fish and unlike bears and foxes who have sharp claws to grasp the fish, larger fish lack arms or traps to catch the smaller ones. How then do fish catch fish?”
“No problem,” explained the Chassidim, “the fish simply open their mouth and swallow the smaller fish whole.”
The Rebbe responded, “ if that were to be the case, the tails and fins of the smaller fish would be swallowed first and the boney pieces would scrape his throat to pieces before a meal would be consumed.”
So how do larger fish swallow smaller fish and sustain themselves? Rabbi Meir took the Chassidim to his kitchen to show them. On the counter was a large fish prepared for the onset of Shabbos. The Rebbe open the fish and showed his Chassidim that indeed inside the large fish were tens of smaller fish but instead of swallowing them from behind, the little fish had been confronted. As a result, their bodies faced the tail of the fish.
“You see,” said the Rebbe, “The fish does not chase after its prey, it confronts it. It opens its mouth and the smaller fish enter. Their fins and tails fly back and the larger fish is able to eat in comfort.”
Our Parsha talks about the Manna that fell from Hashem and sustained the Jews in the desert. Tzaddikim found it close to home, others had to go out and find it. Aharon was told to keep a small container of the Manna as a sign for future generations that in each generation there are many ways Hashem can sustain his people.
The author of the Sefer Meor Einayim notes that this is why Aharon was told to store it in a container. The message was to be that if one were to examine his own Parnassa, and all of the lucky “breaks” or opportunities that “happened” his way, he too, would realize that Hashem is still sending the Manna, just in a different container. One must open his eyes first and take a good, hard look at the means of sustenance in order to appreciate it.
What about us? Are we aware of how much Yad Hashem exists in our daily grind to eke out at living (and sometimes, B’Ezras Hashem more than just “eke”)? Do we express that appreciation adequately? Do we use any excess to play it forward in Hashem’s eternal mission of fixing the world with the awareness of His divine sovereignty over it?
How often are we looking at the gifts we receive from Hashem in the face, appreciating them for what they are? Are we guilty of chasing after things hoping to get what we feel we lack? The former approach will make us appreciative, the latter will scrape our insides like the fish.
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.