("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.)
Chaim, a recently married young man, lived far away from his wife’s family. Naturally, his wife missed her family and looked forward to seeing them as often as possible. Chaim liked being in his home and preferred not to travel unless necessary.
When Yom Tov came around, Chaim’s wife convinced her husband to go visit her mother and family for Sukkos. After all, his mother in law, recently widowed, would appreciate having her daughter visit for Yom Tov. Chaim, true to his style, insisted on waiting until Erev Yom Tov to make the trip.
Upon arriving at his mother in law’s home, Chaim went to inspect the sukkah. Barely offering greeting, he asked “Which way to the Sukkah?” And then, to his dismay, a terrible look of anguish overtook him. “But the Sukkah…it isn’t set up according to the opinion of the Chazon Ish!” Chaim was dismayed. Had he enough time, Chaim would have returned home for the holiday. Alas, there wasn’t enough time.
What could Chaim do? How would he fulfill the Mitzva in the greatest way possible? What would happen to the opinion of the Chazon Ish?
So what did Chaim do?
Chaim went and ate at someone else’s Sukkah.
And his mother in law? She cried. And Chaim’s wife? She cried also. But Chaim was diligent and ate in the Sukkah consistent with the position of the Chazon Ish.
Rav Shalom Schwadron, the famous Maggid of Yirushalayim used to tell the story to highlight how Jews sometimes are extremely diligent about performing certain Mitzvos – to the detriment of others (Kol Almana V’Yasom Lo Saanun). Are Chaim’s actions understandable? Are they correct? Do they reflect the sense of piety? Or poor judgment?
What about our observance of mitzvos? When are we supposed to be diligent/Makpid on a particular mitzvah’s observance in a particular manner? What about our personal Minhagim? What happens when a minhag we observe clashes with a practice from a spouse’s home? How about that of a neighbor and fellow community member? How and when are we to remain strong and strict on ritual observances and when are we supposed to bend?