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).
A Texas oilman some years ago was participating in a charity banquet. During a lull in the program, he rose to his feet. “Mah name,” he said, “is James R. Robinson, and my nickname is Jimmy. I have a 15,000 acre ranch in the Panhandle and my brand is JR. I run 10,000 barrels of oil a day and I own the entire Robinson Oil and Gas Company. I have a $120,000 baby blue Cadillac outside and on it are my initials JRR. I like this charity and I want to give $150,000 – but anonymously!”
When it came time to donations for the Mishkan, the Torah uses the words Nidava and then immediately Tikchu – implying that even if the donation was to be offered, it needed to be taken. Why the stress on the taking once something is donated?
The Midrash comments that if one person wanted to donate the entire Mishkan it should not be accepted from him. If one person was to own the entire Mishkan – even through donation, the people would not feel their own connection to the place. Even if it were to be “anonymous”, knowing that the Mishkan belonged to someone else would make those seeking a connection to Hashem feel like spectators and honored guests at another’s home rather than like partners seeking a chance to personally connect with Hashem in the house that they built together. Thus, even when donations were taken --- and they were, graciously – they were taken on behalf of the entire people so that everyone involved would be connected to the Mishkan project directly.
The Jewish nation is blessed with many beautiful communities and communal causes. We are also blessed with many wonderful donors – who give finances, time, energy, and effort -- whose sole intent in donation is to perpetuate and benefit the community at large. Still, in order to feel like one is a part of a community – one needs to find his or her place to contribute in whatever way s/he can.
Where and how can you contribute to the greater growth of a Jewish community?
How can one make sure that his contribution is maximized for the community – and not merely for oneself?
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