“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)
The passing of Yogi Berra this week left the world void of one of the most colorful celebrities of modern times. Yogi was always good for a deep line, often referred to as “Yogi-isms” which left much food for thought. What follows is a great example – literally…
Having ordered a pizza, Berra was asked whether he would like it cut into four or eight pieces. "Make if four," said Yogi. "I don't think I can eat eight."
Funny as Yogi math is, there is depth in understanding how we divide the pie of wealth.
In Parshas Haazinu, Moshe warns the people that Yeshurun became fat and kicked and deserted Hashem who created it (32:15). Rav Samson Refael Hirsch comments that this is the first time the Jewish nation is referred to as “Yeshurun” which is a derivative of “Yashar” or just. This symbolizes the aspect that Bnei Yisrael do not deviate from the word of Hashem. When we become “fat” we tend to lose that Yashrus (steadfastness). However, doesn’t it seem more likely that when we tend to get too fat, we would get lazy? Why would Yeshurun leave Hashem through the process of kicking – an activity – as a result of fattening up? Should the response be the opposite?
14 years ago, Rabbi A.L. Sheinbaum Shlita of Cleveland suggested to me that the sin is indicative of the praise. In other words, normally wealth and prosperity do not need to serve as an anathema to just, moral Jewish, Halachic standards of living. Quite to the contrary, Bnei Yisrael are ideally Yeshurun in all situations, including those of wealth. It is only when we tend to our narcissistic tendency of self-indulgence and ignore the gift of wealth in regard to benefitting the world at large – that we disgrace Hashem. One must overcome the opportunity that wealth brings and literally “kick” it back – which leads to the deserting of Hashem.
Sukkos too, involves the celebration of man's personal bounty and harvest. Instead of celebrating his own fortune, the farmer goes up to Yirushalayim to thank Hashem and share the joy with others who are part of Hashem's family -- the Ger, Yasom and Almana. It is part of the Sharing process that makes Sukkos filled with Joy.
One of the great tests of wealth is how we use it. If we use it to spread Beracha around the world it is positive. There is indeed, a limited pie of wealth in the world. If we concentrate wealth in one place it will lead to development of fat and all sorts of unhealthy practice along with it. If we spread it around, we will gain from so much of the goodness that is the Will of Hashem.
How do YOU intend on sharing YOUR personal assets/gifts from Hashem???
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.