("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 for a Refuah Sheleima for Shalva Adina Bas Sarah Chana
In a certain country, the economic situation was tight. The government made a decision to balance the budget and it fell to the hand of the Secretary of the Treasury to decide who and in what way monies would be spent and where the “fat” would be trimmed in order to make the budgets fit.
Naturally, the Secretaries of the other governmental ministries each wanted to maximize their pieces of the budget. Each Secretary requested a meeting with the Treasury in order to show why its funding shouldn’t be cut and in fact be increased.
The Secretary of Education personally met with the Treasury Secretary and they spent the day travelling the country and meeting different schools and leaders of the different programs under the watch of the Education Department, At each stop, the heads of school described the constraints of the new budget restrictions and the programs that were being cut as a result. The school leaders begged and cajoled for more funding. The secretary listened and turned to his colleague and told him: “ I see the difficulties here and feel the plight of education. But my hands are tied. I cannot break the budget rules and am unable to expand the education component of the budget.”
The next day, the Secretary of the Treasury met with the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The latter spent a full day leading the Treasury Secretary on a trip of medical facilities where requests for increased funding were requested to improve medical conditions for patients and add needed beds in hospitals and needed staffing to run life saving divisions in the healthcare arena. The Health Secretary went into his final pitch and requested, as did his colleague the day before, for increased budget funding. Surprisingly, the Treasury Secretary relented immediately and asked one of his assistants to note the needs and to find the room in the budgets to appropriate accordingly.
Dumbfounded, the assistant asked the Treasury Secretary why he had a change of heart. Why did he so strongly oppose the increase in educational spending and so openly fund the health department?
The Secretary explained: “It’s pretty simple. Yesterday when I was in the education department, I heard the requests but knew that I would never go back to school so I did not see the point of improving the budget there. However, today I saw the health department and saw that there could be a day when I am ill and will want to have the full budget available to heal me.”
The Or Hachaim notes that immediately after Matan Torah, the first Mishpat deals with the story of the Jewish slave. The Ohr HaChaim notes the odd juncture of this mitzvah and notes that Hashem was giving the Jewish nation a critical lesson. Lest one think that this mitzvah only applies to those with no funds who sell themselves in order to make a living, the Torah makes this the first lesson after Matan Torah in order to highlight the fact that each and every Jew has the potential to benefit from the Mitzva and the attitude it provides for us, reminding us that there is no section of the Torah that is “irrelevant” or “outdated.”
What lessons can we derive from sections of the Torah that seem more applicable to times long ago?
In what way can we make sections of the Torah – like Kodashim, Tumah and Tahara and the laws of Avadim relevant to us today?
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.