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 Refuah Sheleima of Shalva Adina Bas Sarah Chana & Eliyahu Aharon Ben Yocheved Yetta Ettel).


The name Carol McCloud probably doesn’t come to mind when you think of world philosophers who make a difference. But earlier this month Carol surpassed a milestone that far outweighs its simple reading – She just sold her millionth book.


You see, Carol McCloud is the author of a famous children’s book “Have you filled a bucket?”. The book maintains the theory that everyone in the world walks around with a little bucket with the good thoughts and feelings of its owner. When the bucket is full, the bucket’s owner is happy and fulfilled. When it is empty, the bucket’s owner is sad and lonely.  McCloud explains to her readers that buckets are filled by people interacting with each other positively. If I act kindly, offer a kind word or even a greeting or “pick me up” to the people around me, I’m filling their buckets. When someone takes away from one’s good feelings and thoughts, s/he is a bucket dipper – like a bully – often trying to fill his or her own empty bucket by taking from others. But this never works – warns McCloud. On the other hand – when you fill someone else’s bucket, you automatically fill yours too.  


McCloud then implores her readers to seek out the different ways they can be “bucket fillers”. Saying “thank you”  to teachers, administrators, bus drivers and others around us does not cost anything but it DOES fill their buckets. Smiling at neighbors and friends and offering words of encouragement is probably not too time consuming but it DOES fill the bucket. How we choose to look at and react to  the world around us reflects upon the type of job we will do at bucket filling. In fact, McCloud reminds her young readers that the most important bucket that gets filled as we become regular bucket fillers is our own.


It’s no wonder the book has sold over a million copies. Its message has filled many, many buckets and if spread further will fill many more.


After experiencing the miracles at the shore of Yam Suf, Bnei Yisrael found themselves in Marah. They were not able to drink the water in Marah “for they were bitter.” While the simple reading of the verse suggests that it was the waters that were too bitter for them to be potable, the Kotzker Rebbe suggests otherwise. He opines that it was the Bnei Yisrael who were bitter in Marah. They found themselves in a predicament and instead of looking at it as opportunity and seeking to problem solve, they chose to give up, shut down and complain. The attitude of complaint spread though the camp quickly until Hashem  showed Moshe how to sweeten the water and the complaint subsided.


We often do better in life when we seek solutions to our challenges. The ability to assess our solutions begin when we see what tools we have  to get the job done, instead of mindlessly obsessing over that which we lack. Waters become sweet when we have the outlook that we want to sweeten our lives and set out to do just that -- together. It’s when we recognize that it is our job  to be bucket fillers that all of the waters and other things we seek to fill our buckets with, fill us wholly and fully.


Are YOU a bucket filler?


What can you do today to fill more buckets around YOU?


 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