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).

Public speaking guru Stacey Foster tells a great story worthy of repetition:

High in the Himalayan mountains lived a wise old man.

Periodically, he ventured down into the local village to entertain the villagers with his special knowledge and talents. One of his skills was to psychically tell the villagers the contents in their pockets, boxes, or minds.

A few young boys from the village decided to play a joke on the wise old man and discredit his special abilities.

One boy came up with the idea to capture a bird and hide it in his hands. He knew of course, the wise old man would know the object in his hands was a bird.

The boy devised a plan.

Knowing the wise old man would correctly state the object in his hands was a bird, the boy would ask the old man if the bird was dead or alive. If the wise man said the bird was alive, the boy would crush the bird in his hands, so that when he opened his hands the bird would be dead.

But, If the wise man said the bird was dead, the boy would open his hands and let the bird fly free. So no matter what the old man said, the boy would prove the old man a fraud.

The following week, the wise old man came down from the mountain into the village. The boy quickly caught a bird and cupping it out of sight in his hands, walked up to the wise old man and asked, “Old man, old man, what is it that I have in my hands?”

The wise old man said, “You have a bird, my son.” And he was right.

The boy then asked, “Old man, old man, tell me: Is the bird alive or is it dead?”

The wise old man looked at the boy, thought for a moment and said, “The bird is as you choose it to be.”

Hashem too, reminds Moshe to take the Mateh, the stick in his hands when he goes to visit Pharaoh.  The amazing thing about this staff is that when it was in Moshe’s hands it was an instrument to deliver the Jewish people to freedom. When it fell from his hands, it became a serpent.  How could the same staff be used for both such important life-promoting and freedom-promoting goodness and yet be such a danger at the same time?

Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski notes that science and knowledge in general, are like Moshe’s staff. On the one hand they can bring many benefits to mankind. At the same time, they can cause unimaginable damage, hut and pain. The effects of science and technology depend on who is holding onto them – and how they are controlled.

Today’s society is filled with enhancements and advancements that can better human life or destroy it. Atomic energy, computers, the internet and drug development all serve as great hopes for human advancement or can lead to human destruction – the key critical determining factor  of success or destruction is the beholder.

Can you identify strong tools that exist in your life?

How can you use the tools to advance life and not destroy it?

 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.