("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.)
Recently, I visited a young, startup community that had grown into a vibrant city in Israel. As I was being shown around, the city’s citizens were proud to show me both the medical brigade (the government sponsored ambulance corp) and the volunteer group of first responders (sort of like Hatzalah here).
“Why does a city like this need two emergency Medical Services?” I asked.
I was told, that once upon a time it was only the government’s sponsored EMT service that served the town. It was successful and responsive. However, as the town grew into a vibrant city, the needs grew as well. Unfortunately, the town’s share of the national budget did not grow proportionately to its medical needs. In order to meet the needs of the town, a volunteer service was necessary in order to guarantee that everybody in the town could rely on swift emergency care in case of need.
“The members of the volunteer group are really guardian angels,” my guide told me. “They are regular people, with regular jobs, who picked up the slack when there was a need.
The Chofetz Chaim notes that the same situation exists today in a different type of emergency – that of the spiritual war with the Yetzer HaRa. He notes that in earlier generations there were always Tzaddikim like the Alshich, the Shelah and the Gra who could be counted upon to lead the battle and save us from spiritual malady.
Today however, the cities have grown and the budget (the resources of Tzaddikim) still has not risen to meet the needs of today. For that, we need the spirit of volunteerism. Today, each and every city must have volunteers. In this case, volunteers are those who put out the fires of the Yetzer Hara. Sometimes it comes in leading an effort of spiritual growth through Torah. At other times, it is through the process of chessed. And still, sometimes it is through the process of leading by example – where instead of destroying and division, we demonstrate ideals through being communally constructive toward a more spiritual life.
In what way can each of US serve as "volunteer medical staff" for the Jewish community at large that is constantly in a state of emergency? Where can each of US (man, woman and child) individually, and collectively, play a role of true Hatzalah?
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.