This series is dedicated to the loving memory of Rabbi Moshe David Averick, l’illui nishmas Moshe David ben Naftali Yosef HaLevi v’Leah. May his neshama have an aliyah.

וְאַחַר כָּךְ אָמַר לוֹ ‘אַתָּה חוֹשֵׁב שֶׁהַהִינְדִּיק מֻכְרָח לִהְיוֹת דַּוְקָא תַּחַת הַשֻּׁלְחָן, יְכוֹלִים לִהְיוֹת הִינְדִּיק וְלִהְיוֹת אֵצֶל הַשֻּׁלְחָן

Afterwards, he said to him, “You think that the turkey is forced to be specifically under the table, but [we are] able to be a turkey and to be at the table.”

A major breakthrough in case occurs in the Turkey Prince’s development when the Wise Man’s strategy is able to convince the turkey prince to emerge from his hiding place and sit at the table like a human being. Perhaps we may suggest that the table in our story represents the Shulchan Aruch, “the set table” – the standard halachic work codified by Rabbi Yosef Cairo (1488 – 1575). As such, the table symbolizes following Halacha. While the table – both in the story and as a symbol – certainly represents the ideal, the Wise Man does not attempt to have the turkey rise to the table immediately. Rather, we the Wise Man applies the adage of: Derech Eretz precedes Eitz HaChaim (Tanna Debei Eliyahu Rabbah 1:1): A person must first act with basic decency, symbolized in the viceroy being clothed, and only afterwards can he proceed to approach the Tree of Life – the Torah.

It is important to take note that the turkey of this story was at least retained within the greater society; even though he lived naked under the table for a time, at least he had remained in the home.

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994), the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, taught that, in addition to the Arba Banim of the Haggadah, there is a fifth son as well. Rabbi Schneerson taught us the following:

While the four sons differ from one another in their response to the Seder, they have one thing in common: they are all present at the Seder. Even the so-called “wicked son” is there, taking an active, while rebellious, interest in what is going on in Jewish life around him. This at least justifies the hope that someday also the wicked one will become wise, and all Jewish children attending the Seder will become conscientious, Torah and Mitzvos observing Jews.

Unfortunately, in our time of confusion and obscurity there is another kind of a Jewish child: the child who is conspicuous by his absence from the Seder; the one who has no interest whatsoever in Torah, Mitzvos, laws or customs, who is not even aware of the Seder, the exodus from Egypt and the subsequent Revelation at Sinai…

It is one of the vital tasks of our time to exert all possible effort to awaken in the young generation, as in those who are advanced in years but still immature in deeper understanding, a fuller appreciation of the true Jewish values, of Torah-true Yiddishkeit, a full and genuine Yiddishkeit; not of that which goes under a false label of misrepresented, compromised, or watered-down Judaism. Together with this appreciation will come the realization that only true Yiddishkeit can guarantee the existence of the individual, of each and every Jew, at any time, in any place, and under any circumstances.

There is no room for hopelessness in Jewish life, and no Jew should ever be given up as a lost cause. Through the proper compassionate approach of Ahavas Yisroel, even those of the lost generation can be brought back to Ahavas Hashem and Ahavas HaTorah, and not only be included in the community of the four sons, but in due course be elevated to the rank of the wise son…”

On the 11th of Adar in the year 5717, in Michtav Klali, Ois 8.

From our story, we are able to see that while the prince had fallen into a misguided self-perception, he was simply lost under the table within the confines of a Jewish home. Thankfully, he did not become abandoned or homeless! Recognizing the fact that while we may be under the table in life, we are still “in the house” and expressing gratitude to Hashem is an important shift as well.

Rabbi Nachum Aaron Kutnowski
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