("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.)
Once upon a time, there was a rich fellow who traveled in his wagon to Paris, got off and entered a store there. After a short hour, he came out holding a small cage this a little bird inside.
His wagon driver was amazed at the short visit for such a small item. And so, he asked his passenger what the purpose of the trip had been.
“This little bird,” said the passenger “is called the canary” as if merely identifying the bird was explanation enough.
“So what did you pay for it?” asked the wagon driver.
“$500” came the quick reply.
For the next few hours, the wagon traveled in relative silence. The rich man went back to his private business inside the carriage, while the wagon driver began to think and daydream until he got home. When he finally made it back home, he told his wife about the trip he took with the rich man. He talked about how they went away to France, to merely purchase a small little bird for $500. He told her how much he desired to live the rich life just once.
Eventually his wife gave in.
Off to Paris he went with his life savings -- $500 – and purchased the rare yellow bird. As soon as he got home he told his wife to prepare the pot with the best onions and spices. He was convinced that this delicacy – the yellow bird—would give taste to everything in the pot.
Alas, his wife tasted her stew, and didn’t taste anything special.
“Well, roast the other half of the bird ” the man said. “Perhaps that’s the way to prepare it.”
But as they sat down to eat, they discovered that the bird was dry, bony and bitter. It certainly did not taste like a delicacy.
The wagon driver felt silly having spent his life savings on a bird that he hadn’t merited to enjoy. He went to visit his friend, the rich man, to see what he did wrong. He told the man his story, highlighting the part about the bitter bird. “Where did I go wrong ?” he asked.
The rich man laughed out loud. “You fool! That bird is not for eating. It’s a canary. Its main benefit is its beautiful voice. There are many other more delicious birds but none that same like the canary.
The Shaarei Armon highlights our tradition of eating special foods as a Siman, a sign, for good things in the upcoming year. Many have the custom to get the apples and honey, to eat the pomegranate, the sheep’s head or other special things. However, it is equally as important to remember that it is not the eating that makes a difference, it is the Yehi Ratzon prayer that makes the difference.
How often do we stop to ask ourselves why we do what we do. Do we live to work or work to live? Do we live to eat or eat to live? Do we work to succeed or succeed in working? What is the greater purpose in the work and other goals we undertake in our daily lives?
What new approaches to life goals will we bring to the table in 5773? How can we use the transition from year end to year beginning as a guard to hear the sound of Hashem’s voice and not to gluttonously consume His beautiful world without appreciation?
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.