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Rabbi Jonathan Ganger
by Published on April 27, 2020

At times we don’t realize how much is going right in our life and how perilous and fragile our existence truly is. Due to a new microscopic invader, once more our precarious standing in the universe has been brought to light. However, we shouldn’t need to rely on a pandemic to appreciate our daily living. There is another tool at our disposal that we have to appreciate our daily sustenance.
Shabbat B'Yachad Dinner & Service              The only remnant we have of our temple is not only in the ruins of Jerusalem, but exists in almost all homes across the world- a table. It is odd that something as simple and mundane as a table took prominence in the temple.  A glorious light fixture such as the menorah and the beautiful ark with its cherubic figures seems to fit in with the theme of a temple, but a table doesn’t seem to capture the imagination in quite the same way.  So what was a table doing there and what was its function?

              On a simple level, the word Shulchan helps explain its importance. The word comes from the word, ‘to send’, ‘sholeach’.  The table at the temple was the symbol that reminded us that our ‘bread’ which is sent to us daily is a blessing. Meaning, a person should sit at his table and recognize that the bounty at their table is not automatic or a given. One should feel a sense of gratitude.  On a deeper level, we are reminded that a gathering around food should not only be a venue to comment on the latest recipes and on favorite tastes. While we should certainly make the chef feel appreciated, a meal provides an opportunity to stop and connect with others and share deep wisdom.  This means the meal is now a vehicle for something more.  And finally, the Talmud states if a person stays at his table for a long time he will merit a long life. The reason? Because it gives him an opportunity to have many guests. This is the beauty of a table and why Jewish life revolves around it.  It is a vehicle for wisdom, gratitude, and giving and there is nothing more Jewish than that.

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