“In his hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of all mankind.” — Job 12:10
Do you ever wonder if your life matters? Have you ever wondered if your actions make a difference in the world? There have never been so many people alive as there are today. What difference can one person make?
I once heard a story that gave me the answer I already knew, and which illustrates it beautifully. The story is about the great 19th-century conductor Arturo Toscanini. One time, Toscanini was sitting with a writer who was putting together a biography of the music giant. The pair sat together and listened to a concert that Toscanini had conducted. The piece was a complicated one and considered masterful.
However, once the music stopped, Toscanini seemed less than satisfied. The biographer had thought the piece was impeccable but Toscanini knew differently. Out of over 100 musicians, his ear could pick up that there were only 13 violinists instead of the 14 who were supposed to be playing in the concert. He explained to the stunned writer that while everything sounded perfect to the audience, the conductor knows every note that is supposed to be played and so when one person is missing, the conductor knows exactly what the piece is lacking.
The writer did some research the next day to find out if Toscanini had been correct about the missing violinist. He found out that indeed one of the violinists had been sick and hadn’t been at the concert. The writer was astounded that Toscanini had noticed.
In the book of Job we read: “In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” God, as the Master Conductor of the entire world, knows each creature intimately and the contribution that each is capable of making to the symphony of life. He at once holds the “breath of all mankind” and “the life of every creature” one at a time. He knows us as a whole and He knows us individually. We matter to God. If one of us doesn’t play our “music,” He knows that something is missing. The symphony is incomplete, the orchestra is lacking.
God has given us unique hidden treasures and talents. We each have a distinctive contribution to make to the world. We must never fall into the trap of thinking that we don’t matter. Even if no one else would notice whether or not we are doing our job, God notices. Even if no one else cares if we are living up to our God-given potential, God cares. We all have a part to play and a song to sing. God gifted us with our lives; our song is our gift to Him.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President