("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.)
Napoleon Bonaparte, ruler of France, marched through Europe conquering city after city and country after country. His final conquest was to be the defeat of the Russian army. Alas, he came to a city so well fortified that he could not pierce the city’s wall. Without any other choice, Napoleon laid siege around the city for a long period of time. Nothing came in or out of the city.
As the siege time grew, Napoleon’s soldiers got restless. Many argued that the conquest was elusive and not worth their efforts at sustaining siege. Napoleon volunteered, together with one of the expert marksmen, to enter the city in disguise and spy out the fortifications.
And so it was. Napoleon and the marksman entered the city in peasant’s clothes and made their way to a local tavern. While there, they ordered drinks just like the locals and sat and listened to the Russian soldiers talk. “The siege is having a negative effect. Our economy is at a halt and the poverty levels and lack of food are threatening our lives. We are likely to have to surrender to Napoleon,” one soldier reported.
Suddenly one soldier looked over and recognized the peasant’s true identity. “Hey,” he said “That guy’s Napoleon.” The other soldiers began a ruckus when they realized that their enemy might be right under their noses. Napoleon and the marksman were terrified.
The marksman recognized their precarious position and ordered his “friend” the peasant (Napoleon) to bring him a drink. As Napoleon carried the drink, he spilled it on the marksman’s coat. The marksman got up and slapped Napoleon so hard, he landed on the ground. “Fool” he screamed, “look what you did!” Napoleon quickly ran out of the tavern and out of the town.
In the meantime, the marksman got up and paid for the drinks and calmly left the tavern. The Russian soldiers began to rib their comrade “Napoleon?” they laughed, “if that guy was Napoleon, who would’ve had the guts to strike him.”
As soon as they got back to camp, the marksman turned to Napoleon and begged for mercy for having struck him – the powerful general. Napoleon looked at the man and calmly reminded him that had he NOT struck him, they would both be dead. He told him that sometimes present knocks are actually long term luck.
The Pardes Yosef notes that this is part of the grand lesson of Yosef toward his brothers. He reminds them that they might have tried to do harm to him but that Hashem had other plans and made everything turn out alright after all.
How often do we get upset at someone or some people who intend to harm or slight us? At those moments it is easiest to plot our revenge and feel justified in doing so, knowing that we are right and have been wronged.
It takes a big person and Emunah to believe that Hashem is the one who sets things right in the end. What can we do to foster that belief? And how can we guarantee justice in the face of faith?
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.