("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.)
Once upon a time, there was a farmer who had leased his land for farming from the king. As in most of the similar farming agreements of his time, this farmer was responsible to pay strong taxes on his produce on his land in the countryside to the king in his capital city.
The farmer was a leader on his farm. His children and farmhands knew their roles. They worked the fields and did their share of chores. They heralded the sheep and the cattle and they helped with the harvest. At night, his kids would wait on him hand and foot in appreciation for his hard work on the farm.
Toward the end of the harvest, his neighbors warned him to prepare the taxes fr the tax collector was going to come and take his due. The farmer began to laugh. “What do I have to do with the king? After all, he lives in the capital and I am all the way in the countryside. He lives in palaces and I in a simple farmhouse. Do you really think that the sovereign cares about a little farmer in the country? He can watch his massive treasury and I’ll keep my money thank you,” he responded.
The neighbors warned him not to start up with the king because after all, the king was also commander in chief of massive armies at his disposal but the farmer wouldn’t hear of it.
The tax day came and the tax collectors passed through the villages and farms to collect the taxes. The farmer refused the tax collector and the people were astonished. They were more surprised when the tax collector just simply moved on to the next house – without a threat or word. Some began to plan to do the same in the next year….
Until 2 weeks later when a platoon of soldiers arrived at the farm. The platoon demanded that they be fed and quartered at the farmer’s home. The farmer was also forced to care for their horses and armor personally. They took whatever they wanted from his home and left only after collecting the king’s taxes in addition to an appropriate penalty.
The villagers asked the man afterward if it had been worth the resistance in the first place. After all, in the end not only did the king assess his tax and a penalty, the man’s dignity was also removed from him in the process.
Rav Shimon Aggasi, one of the great teachers of Bagdad Jewry, used to tell this story in order to convey the urgency of this season: After all, we find ourselves in the Yamim Noraim times wherein we are to pay up for our past and chart a better course for the future. If we think that HaMelech – the king of kings is too busy to find us, we might learn that He has many different means to extract the Teshuva taxes.
In the end, we WILL do Teshuva so why wait? Let’s undertake the Teshuva process together and merit a Shana Tova!!
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.