("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.)
In the depths of Russia, darkness pervaded most of the days and nights. Temperatures would drop to unfathomable levels, leaving most of the water, throughout a majority of the year, frozen solid. Hundreds of Jews living in the area would try to create a sense of Jewish life and continuity – not the least of which was Taharas Hamishpacha and the use of the Mikvah.
In order to guarantee that the person immersing would be able to go in, the mikvah attendant would pour boiling hot water from a hot water tank directly into the mikvah immediately prior to immersion. The hot water would boil regularly and the tank had to be refilled monthly.
One day, a man came to use the mikvah. He asked the attendant if the water was hot. “Absolutely” came the quick, assured reply.
The man proceeded to dip his toe into the water and shuttered back quickly from the freezing cold. Indeed the mikvah water was frozen. “Why did you tell me it was warm?” he asked. “that water is almost frozen solid.”
“Impossible,” came the quick reply from the attendant, “I just poured the water from the hot water tank myself, not nearly 5 minutes ago.”
The man went over to check the tank himself and sure enough, it was lukewarm. “Of course,” he said, “it all makes sense now. When the tank is boiling hot, the mikvah will be warm. But when the tank is lukewarm, the mikvah remains cold.”
The Chofetz Chaim used to use this example to describe the importance of Hislahavut, of fervor that Mitzva observance. Mitzvos that we approach with a fervor and an excitement tend to be observed by our children, and those around us, long after we’re done. However, if we approach Jewish life and observance with a lukewarm feeling, then our children might not even approach at all.
Our city’s venerable Rav, Rav Pinchas Teitz ztl used to say that we need to discover that a thirst for Torah and a Torah way of living is similar to the thirst for water. He noted that the thirst for water is unique, in that when one is thirsty, nothing quenches that thirst like a cold glass of water. However, when one thinks s/he is satisfied, the one thing that one will not drink is water.
What can we do, to increase our own fervor and fulfillment in Mitzva observance and Torah study? How can we transmit that interest to our kids and neighbors?
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.