"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.)


A little boy and his father were once standing on a train platform, watching the train go by. The boy's eyes were wide with wonderment as he watched the strong engine at the front of the train pull the seemingly endless number of cars with relative ease.

"Daddy," the boy asked, "Why does the engine need to work so hard? Why doesn't the engine just distance itself from the rest of the cars and then it can speed at the pace it wants to keep? Why does it let the other cars slow it down?"

"My child," the father answered, "You are missing the point of the train. The goal of the engineer is to get his cargo -- the very things that are in the cars -- to its destination. By having the engine get there super fast but without its cargo, the purpose of its trip is meaningless."

Rav Yechezkel Levenstein ztl. once used this story to explain why we do not treat Yom Kippur as a separate cleansing entity and ignore the sins of the past even though Yom Kippur ushers in a new year and new beginnings. According to Rav Chatzkel {as he was known}, the efficacy of Yom Kippur is diminished if we separate it from the rest of the year. Similarly, if on Yom Kippur we only focus on the soul (which is the part of the person most potent on Yom Kippur) then we are missing the point of separating outselves from this world on Yom Kippur -- namely to give us the strength to chart a new path for life even during the most mundane of days and keep those days filled with spirit.

What can be said of Yom Kippur and the soul pulling the rest of the person along throughout the rest of the year can also be said of Jews in regular Jewish life. Sometimes we think we are better off if we merely separate ourselves from those who seem to weigh us down spiritually. We assume that we can soar to greater heights if we were not encumbered with those around us who seem to bring the stock of the Jewish people down -- spiritually.  At those times, we must remember that we are an Am Echad and that we are responsible for one another.

On the other hand, how involved should we or our children be, if we are afraid that our continued association with certain segments or individuals in society are likely to cast us asunder and bring us down with them?

When should we make sure that we are pulling one another along spiritually and when do we hold off fearing the risk of a runaway train?

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.