"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.)
In the days before automobiles, when people lived in small towns and didn’t do much traveling, a trip between cities required a lot of planning. It was these special occasions when a horse and buggy driver would make his real money. His job was relatively simple – pick up the passengers in this town and drop them off in the next town. But he needed to make sure his horses were rested and that he was prepared for whatever might come his way.
Yankel was a local Baal Agoloa – a known horseman. He discharged his duties skillfully – and was a simple, pious Jew.
One winter day, Yankel set out with a businessman in his wagon who had to get to the big city within two days. Ready for the trip, and the cold weather, Yankel set out. As his terrible luck would have it, Yankel’s horse got sick midway and died. The businessman never made it to his meeting and was incensed. To add insult to injury, he sued poor Yankel for his own losses which came about from the missed meeting. The verdict in the Din Torah was for the businessman and Yankel was now liable.
Now Yankel was truly miserable. Turning to the Dayan, the Rabbinic court judge in the case, he asked “Under which rules am I obligated to pay? Under Torah law? The Torah was given in the spring – it is a springtime Torah. Had this been springtime, the horse would have made it and never died. Why is it applicable here under winter conditions?”
The Ksav Sofer (Parshas Tzav) points out that the Torah was specifically given in the desert – as opposed to anywhere else – not even Eretz Yisroel. This was done, he writes, so that no one should ever have a claim that the Torah is community-specific or limited to a particular land. By choosing a place that is equally everyone’s, Hashem was highlighting to us that the Torah is within the grasp of each of us and applies to us all – at all times and in all places.
A technologically advanced society, sometimes progresses to the point where it forgets its humble beginnings. That act of forgetting can be quite dangerous, as who we are and where we are going is often best appreciated by knowing where we come from and what we stand for. The art of modernity is the interpretation of modern events through the prism of timeless Torah and being too “open” can make one’s core values and beliefs fall out. Being committed to a timeless Torah and its application in all situations will keep our lives enriched and meaningful.
How can you view the events of today in a Torah way?
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.