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).
There was once a little bird who was very nice, but very, very lazy. Every day, when it was time to get up, the other birds had to shout at him again and again before he would finally struggle out of bed. And when there was some job he had to do, he would keep putting it off until there was hardly enough time left to do it. Birds kept telling him "What a lazy bird you are! You can't just keep leaving everything to the last minute”.
"Bah! There's really no problem", answered the little bird, "I just take a bit longer to get around to doing things, that's all".
The birds spent all summer flying and playing, and when autumn came and you could start feeling the cold, the other birds began to prepare for the long journey to a warmer land. But our little bird, lazy as ever, kept putting it off, feeling quite sure that there would be plenty of time to prepare for the journey. That was, until one day when he woke up and all the other birds were gone.
Just like every other day, several of his friends had tried to wake him, but - half asleep - he told them he would get up later. He had gone back to sleep and only woke up again much later. That day was the day of the great journey. Everyone knew the rules: you had to be ready to leave; there were thousands of birds, and the other birds weren't going to wait around for anyone. So the little bird, who didn't know how to make the journey alone, realized that because of his laziness, he would have to spend the long cold winter all on his own.
At the beginning, he spent a lot of time crying, but he had to admit that it was his own fault. He knew he could do things well when he put his mind to it so, putting his laziness aside, he began to prepare for the winter. First, he spent days looking for the place that was best protected from the cold. He found a place between some rocks, and there he made a new nest, well built with branches, stones and leaves. Then, he worked tirelessly to fill the nest with fruits and berries, enough to last the whole winter. Finally, he dug a little pool in the cave, so he would have enough water. When he saw that his new home was perfectly prepared, he began to train himself on how to get by on very little food and water, so that he would be able to endure the worst snowstorms.
And, although many would not have believed it, all these preparations meant that the little bird did survive through the winter. Of course, he suffered greatly, and not a day of that winter went by without him regretting having been such a lazy little bird. When the spring finally arrived, and his old friends returned from their voyage, the other birds were all filled with joy and surprise at seeing that the little bird was still alive. The other birds could hardly believe that such a lazy bird had managed to build such a wonderful nest. And when the other birds realized that not even a bit of laziness remained in his little body, and that he had turned into the most hard-working bird of the flock, everyone agreed that he should be put in charge of organizing the great journey next year.
When that time came, everything was so well done and so well prepared that the other birds even had time left to invent an early morning wake-up song, so that from that day on no little bird, however lazy, would have to spend the winter alone again.
The Torah tells us that the Nesiim were invited to bring the special stones for the Eifod and the Choshen. Yet, when their names are written in the Torah, they are written without the letter Yud. Rashi explains that the Nesiim had been lazy and didn’t respond to the call to donate to the Mishkan. They thought that they would wait until the people brought their donations and then they, the Nesiim, would make up the shortfall. Unfortunately for them, there was no shortfall. They almost lost the opportunity to be a part of one of the most important projects in the desert due to their laziness and inactivity. Thus, Hashem took the letter Yud out of their title.
The Chiddushei HaRim explains that the letter Yud was chosen to be removed from their names because it is the letter Yud that takes things in the present and makes them future (Lashon Atid). The Nesiim demonstrated a failure in their ability to prepare for the future and thus, did not deserve the extra Yud for their names.
In our desire to seek leisure and fun in life, we also need to remember to set priorities appropriately. Do we squander our future for a little fun for today? Do we allow our present desire for “a break from it all” to challenge and alter our plans for the future?
How do we balance preparing for the future and goal-setting with our needs in the present?
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