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The Power of One Person

Grave stone of Oskar Schindler, famed ally of the Jews during the Holocaust


Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. — Genesis 2:7

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy, and this week we begin again with the Torah portion B’reisheet, which means “in the beginning,” from Genesis 1:1—6:8.

Some films are so powerful that they leave an indelible impression on your soul and have a lasting impact on society. For me, one of those films was Oscar-winning film, “Schindler’s List.” The film is about Oskar Schindler who saved over a thousand Jews during the Holocaust. One of the most powerful scenes is at the end of the film when one of the survivors presents Schindler with a ring inscribed with words that read: “He who saves one life saves an entire world.”

These words were taken from the Talmud in response to a question posed by the Jewish sages regarding this week’s Torah reading, which recounts the creation of man. The sages asked why God chose to create only one man when creating humankind. Why not start with fifty people or more?

The answer is that God wanted to teach us the power of one person. The entire world came from just one person. Therefore, “He who saves one life, saves and entire world.”

Each person holds infinite potential and power. There is no limit to what one person may accomplish or to the number of people one person might impact. Just one person could find the cure to cancer. Just one person could inspire the world thought their teachings. Just one person can bring up godly children who will pass those values down to their own children and then to many generations to come.

In a world of seven billion people, it’s easy for a person to feel that he or she does not matter. What value am I in a sea of billions? But God wants us to know that every one of us is an entire world and has unimaginable potential. That’s the power of one person.

There is a reason why you, yes you, were created at this time with the talents and treasures that you possess. The Talmud also teaches that each person needs to say: “God created the world just for me.” In other words, it is up to me to take care of it and make it better.

With God’s help, there is no limit to what each of us can achieve for the betterment of all humankind.

Your turn:

Today, pray like the fate of the world depends on your prayers — because it very well may!

Hebrew Word of the Day

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