“Let's table the discussion" is an 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 Ben Yocheved Yetta Ettel).
There once was a king who celebrated his birthday. As you well know, birthdays for king are not only a day of personal celebration. Rather to each king, a birthday is a celebration for his entire kingdom. Our king was no different. He announced that in honor of his birthday, he would fulfill the requests of any of his royal subjects. From the four corners of his kingdom, royal subjects approached the palace. Everyone had a request and everyone sought to have the king address that request.
Everyone that is, except for one person. There was a person who stood far away from the pack, observing the others approach the palace. From his perch above the castle, the king was able to see the man and was intrigued as to why he was letting everyone else pass him on the way to the palace. Could it be that there was someone in the palace who needed nothing from the king? This was something the king had to know. He ordered the man brought to his chambers at once.
As soon as the man was brought to the chambers, the king saw why the man did not move well. He suffered from leprosy. Each body movement caused him excruciating pain and the king felt bad for this royal subject. “What request can I get for YOU?” the king asked.
“Your highness,” the leper began “ my entire body is covered with boils and sores. They cause me intense pain and prevent me from any rest. The only relief I get, is when I scratch the sores which, although ultimate make them itch more, provide me with temporary relief. I can scratch my arms and legs but scratching my back is near impossible for me. If you could grant me a super-duper back scratcher, I’d be grateful.”
“Fool,” said the king, “instead of wasting your request on a back scratcher, why not request a specialist who might be able to cure your leprosy. If you cure your leprosy, you will not itch anymore.”
“Anymore?” said the leper. “What would I do with myself throughout the day?”
Parshas Behaalosecha begins on a tremendous high, with a focus on things we do and can do to bring us up and get closer to Hashem. However, the Parsha takes a sharp downward turn when Bnei Yisrael begin to complain about the Manna. The people complained all about it and demanded meat instead. Rav Yaakov Galinsky ztl. noted that part of the complaint came to the people who had to travel to get the manna. The Talmud (Yoma 75a) identifies 3 different classes of people who received Manna. One group received it at the doorstep, another at the edge of the camp while a third had to go out (Shatu V’Laktu Bamidbar 11:8) to collect the manna. Why the difference?
Rav Yaakov explains that each group had different views on their roles. The first group was a group committed to steadfast Avodas Hashem. This group would be too busy to go searching for food. Hence the food came to them. Others, while involved, were sent their Manna within the camp so as to provide them a place to act on their desires to help fellow Jews. The final group was uninterested in focusing life on Torah U’Gemilus Chesed. This group needed to be provided with something to do with their days – so Hashem made the Manna part of his daily scavenger hunt. That way, the group would have something to do between sunrise and sunset.
We live in a world that is imperfect. Our schools, communities, friendships, families and marriages all provide us with ripe ground to strengthen through our talents and efforts. The same is true for our spiritual relationship with Hashem. We can choose to roll up our sleeves to tackle each of these situations and improve the condition or we can stand by and complain. But if we choose to merely “stand by and wait to see” we need to ask ourselves if we are looking to improve or merely thanking Hashem that we have something to complain about – in order to provide meaning to our day.
With what do YOU fill YOUR busy day?
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.