("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.)
Chaim came home from day camp one day without his towel.
“Where is your towel?” asked his mom.
“I don’t know,” he sighed. “I couldn’t find it after swimming. Maybe someone took it.”
The mother was irate. “Who could have taken your towel? It was a great towel! Chaim, Bubbele, YOU would never take someone else’s towel. You know I raised you differently than that. Right?”
She was incensed. She couldn’t take it. A few moments later, she was on the phone with the day camp director.
“Hello.” She began with the camp director, “I feel the need to make you aware of a very serious matter. There is a young thief in your camp!”
“How so?” asked the camp director, steadfast in his hope she was wrong.
“My son had a towel stolen from camp! He brought it in today and it was nowhere”
“Calm down,” reassured the camp director. “I am sure that no one stole it. This happens all the time and surprise, it appears in camp the very next day. I’ll keep an eye out for it personally. Please, can you describe the towel to me?”
“Sure I can! It was white and big. You could not miss it. It had the words Holiday Inn emblazoned on it!”
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzsky uses this hilarious tale to remind us of one of the fundamental lessons of Chinuch – to act the same way we preach. Often we will want our children to act in a certain manner that is consistent with the Torah’s values of Middos, Derech Eretz and Gemilas Chessed. But we need to remember that our children learn much more from watching us than from anything we will ever say to them. If we want these lessons to be entrenched in their lives, they need to be entrenched in ours.
What about us? What do WE stand for? What lessons do we want our children to be able to say “my father stood for __________ and I have always wanted that to be my legacy as well? What do we want our children to associate to immediately when they think of their mother? How can we make sure that these lessons get passed to them?
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.