("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. Dedicated to the Refush Sheleima of Shalva Adina Bas Sarah Chana)
There once was a Jewish sharecropper who lived in Poland.He worked the land hard and in general maintained a good relationship with the local non-Jewish Poritz (landowner). One particularly bad year, he found himself in debt. Compounding his problems was the fortune of making 2 weddings for 2 daughters wherein, his costs mounted. The Poritz was understanding but there came a point where the Jewish sharecropper was called to the poritz to “make good.”
The Jew davened hard before he left. He knew that there was a solid chance that the Poritz would throw him into jail and he would never see his family again. Still, he hoped that the years of sending gifts – alcohol, cheeses and beef – from the farm would count SOMEWHAT and maybe his IOU would not be that great.
He entered the home of the Poritz who ordered him to sit as “they” made an accounting. The Poritz agreed to account for the monies owed to the sharecropper for the alcohol and the other stuff. Believe it or not, the Poritz lifted his head from the ledger and announced: “I don’t believe it! I owe YOU 130 gold coins.” Both the Jew and the Poritz were shocked. “Whatever! Here! Take it and go.”
The Jew who could not believe his good fortune ran out of the home of the Poritz with the gold coins and on his way home figured out what had happened. In the Poritz’s drunken stupor, he had confused 2 columns in the ledger. Really it was he who owed the Poritz. He began to worry about what would happen when the Poritz figured out what happened. He went to the Tolaner Rebbe and asked him to daven to make sure that the Poritz never remembers the accounting error.
The Tolaner Rebbe smiled: “The Poritz will never remember this business transaction. Impossible.” The sharecropper wanted to know how the Rebbe could be so sure. “Simple,” explained the Rebbe. “The Poritz never davens Shmoneh Esrai, when will he have the time to think about this.”
Rav Yaakov Galinsky ztl. famous maggid in Yirushalayim, notes that it is quite difficult to concentrate on Tefilla. It seems that when we take the time to think for ourselves, all of the foreign thoughts we have seem to come back to us. Indeed, the Noda B’Yehuda told his people in Prague to be extra careful to daven in Shul with a Minyan – for at least in that way, the lack of focus can be diffused with a Tefillah that is offered by a Tzibbur in the holy symbol of the temple. Sometimes, just knowing where we are can bring us back to remembering why we are there.
What can you do to improve your concentration on Tefillah?
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.