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 Refuah Sheleima of Shalva Adina Bas Sarah Chana & Eliyahu Aharon Ben Yocheved Yetta Ettel).

A large top-tier law firm in New York was hiring a new attorney. They had taken hundreds of applications from recent law school graduates and had narrowed the search to three candidates, all of whom had first-rate GPA’s, and achievements. The firm flew the three candidates out over the weekend for an interview during which they were to present a mock brief to all the partners. The presentations would be the deciding factor of which candidate was selected.

The candidates arrived on Friday evening and were given a tour of the office. The next morning they returned and gathered in the conference room where all the firm’s partners had assembled to hear the presentations. One by one they gave their 30-minute talks. Each one had done thorough research on the subject matter and had prepared compelling powerpoint slides. The first two candidates demonstrated supreme lawyering skills and “Perry Mason-like” courtroom demeanor. When the third candidate took the podium and it was immediately clear that he lacked the charisma of the other two.

About halfway through his talk a gunshot rang out interrupting his presentation. Turns out it was actually the projector bulb on the conference table that had exploded. Given that it was the weekend there were no maintenance people on duty to replace the bulb. It seemed he would have to continue his presentation without slides. At this point however the candidate did something interesting – he calmly opened his briefcase and withdrew a spare projector bulb of the correct size and wattage. Within minutes he had replaced it and resumed his talk with his slides.

Apparently during the tour the previous evening he had surveyed the conference room, noted the projector model and gone out that night and purchased a spare bulb as a contingency plan.

All three presentations demonstrated thorough preparedness and while the third candidate lacked the superior speaking skills, his “meta-preparedness” sold the partners that he was someone who covered every base. The following week the third candidate received an offer to join the firm.

The Ralbag notes that Yosef took an extra moment to dress himself up properly in order to greet Pharaoh. The Torah takes the time to highlight the fact that he shaved and that he changed his clothes before appearing in front of the strongest leader in the world at that time. Why did he take the effort to prepare himself accordingly? And why does the Torah want us to know about the preparation?

Ralbag explains that we learn a valuable lesson about preparation here. When one takes the time to prepare to greet a king, he thinks about what he wants to say and how his words will be received. By changing his clothes and shaving, the Torah wants us to see how he respected the office of the person he was about to greet and how he acted based upon that awareness.

Ralbag comments that if the value of preparation is crucial for our law school grad and for Yosef, when standing before mortals, it certainly is true when we stand before Hashem.  How much time do WE take to think about the “job” we need to do just before entering the sanctuary of Hashem? How well do we dress in preparation for an encounter with the ultimate king?

How much do you prepare for the most important meeting we have in our day?

What kind of additional preparation might lead to a more meaningful encounter for YOU?

 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.