There is a group of well-dressed people at a grand banquet hall. The decor is gorgeous and there are bountiful plates of delicious food in front of them. The scent of savory dishes floats through the air and there are decorative plates with sweet treats piled high.
But upon inspection, there is a problem. The guests seated at the table all have their wrists bound to the table with heavy steel cuffs. They have enormous long spoons at their fingertips, but with their arms pinned down they cannot pivot the long instruments at an angle to pick up food from their plates. They cannot eat. They are frustrated and hungry, in the form of hell.
There is another table in what might be conceived of as heaven. The same type of well-coiffed revelers sit at a table loaded with culinary delights. The strange thing is that these men and women also have their hands shackled, but somehow they are eating and enjoying themselves. There are warm sounds of conversation and laughter rising up.
How strange, you think, wondering how this could be.
You draw further into the scene to investigate and you see that in this second group, each person is using his or her long spoon to feed the person across the table from them. By feeding one another they can make the long spoons work.
I had forgotten about this story, attributed to Rabbi Haim until I was setting the table for Thanksgiving this year. Today I’m pondering it.
It’s such a neat dynamic that when we give, we cannot help but receive. I hope in this season of gifting, the emotional and physical gifts you send out return to you manyfold and fill you with joy.