("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 Halacha, there is a concept called Nosein Taam. Basically, even the most minute amount of a non-kosher substance that enters the tall pot of kosher can ruin the entire contents of the pot, if it is discernible. This is true even if the amount of kosher is the majority of the pot. It still would not matter. The fact that something non-kosher (Treif) has been involved and is still apparent, ruins the status of the pot and the rest of the food.
It is interesting that the opposite is not true. Namely, if a small amount of Kosher were to fall into a pot of non-kosher items, it would be rendered non-kosher and would not render the pot’s items kosher even if the kosher taste were still discernible.
Why is this true?
The Ben Ish Chai notes the danger associated with friends who are a bad influence. He explains that even when one befriends someone who is “bad news” in order to reform the person (Heter Kiruv?) the danger of being influenced becomes that much more difficult – if one is close to a bad person, shouldn’t one worry that his/her errant values might rub off on him? Like the pot where the different ingredient merge and a treife identity becomes pronounced, friendships without declared values can also bring people down.
Rav Chaim of Volozhin notes that a friend is called a Reiya – because real friends aren’t afraid to tell it like it is. In other words, they are not scared to state their values as a segment of who they are – and insist that the friendship account for the shared spiritual and ethical values and imperatives. Rav Ovadiah Yosef adds that the gematria of the word Beracha is Chaver Tov – for when one is a good and true friend, the result is complete and total beracha.
Often we hear about the threat of peer pressure – especially for young people. How can we encourage our children to choose friends who accept them and strive for share positive Torah values? What should we do when people around us are struggling to treasure the same way of life that we treasure and instead threaten to “spoil the pot?” Is there a way to handle the situation and preserve the friendship?
Is there ever a time that we need to walk away from a relative, neighbor or friend because we are experiencing a negative vibe from him/her? Is a clean break good? What about THEIR souls?
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.