("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 Budapest, a man goes to the rabbi and complains, "Life is unbearable. There are nine of us living in one room. What can I do?"
The rabbi answers, "Take your goat into the room with you." The man in incredulous, but the rabbi insists. "Do as I say and come back in a week."
A week later the man comes back looking more distraught than before. "We cannot stand it," he tells the rabbi. "The goat is filthy."
The rabbi then tells him, "Go home and let the goat out. And come back in a week."
A radiant man returns to the rabbi a week later, exclaiming, "Life is beautiful. We enjoy every minute of it now that there's no goat -- only the nine of us."
The Talmud tells us that from the day the world was created, there was no one who was Modeh to Hashem until Leah came along at the time of Yehuda’s birth (Berachos 28). Thus, Yehuda (whose name becomes synonymous with Judaism (Yehudim) forevermore), is based on this principle of Hodaah- thanksgiving. Yehuda too, is known later on in life for Hodaah – but of a different kind. The Talmud (Sotah 6b) tells us that in regard to the episode with Tamar, Yehuda Hodah V’Lo Bosh. He too, was the epitome of Hodaah. Yet, there, unlike by Leah where the word Hodaah meant “thanks,” here it referred to an admission. Rav Hunter ztl. notes that contained within each and every Hodaah – thanks, there is also a recognition that” I couldn’t do it without you. “ The recognition of man’s limits is also an admission of man’s failings.
Rav Kook (Olat Riya) carries the idea into the Modeh Ani we recite upon rising each morning. By offering thanks at the first moment of the dawn of another day, we are also recognizing and admitting that Hashem created and runs the entire world.
All too often, the ability to say “thanks” to Hashem is hampered by the hustle and bustle of life. We get so used to the way life is that we lack the ability to appreciate the way it is. We can take time out to reflect on the Nissim – the miracles that abound us all the time, and develop a love and zest for life.
What is something new that YOU can be thankful for?
What is something old in your life that you can RENEW your thanks for?
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.