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Size Matters

We’ve all heard the cliches about how size doesn’t matter, and how just because someone is “small” doesn’t mean that they can’t strive for greatness. A short person, a young child, a rookie athlete, a summer intern — whatever your definition of “small” is, misjudging them based on it will not only prevent them from fulfilling their potential, but society will also lose out.

The small person, too, must not let size get in their way of reaching their ambitions. In fact, there are times when their size is what actually allows them to accomplish an objective, where a larger, or older or more experienced, person would have failed. Utilizing their smallness, or their lack of distractions or inhibitions based on past experiences, there can be more opportunities for them to be the difference makers.

But since size doesn’t matter, being small itself also isn’t enough to reach your goals. It’s what the person does in the pursuit of their goals that actually leads to great achievement.

The famous example of something small having an outsized impact is the atom. By definition, an atom is so small it’s invisible to the naked eye, yet everything in the world is composed of atoms. But beyond being the most basic particle of everything that exists, science has discovered that with just the right fission, the tiny atom can have devastating and world altering effects. In other words, the atom itself is not a bomb, but given its composition, combined with the technology to further split the atom, it can destroy major cities, and worse.

This was one the messages Moses imparted to the Jewish people in the weeks prior to his passing.

He reminded our ancestors of G-d’s love for them, that G-d chose them to be a beacon of light in a dark world, and how that should serve as an incentive for them to follow G-d and adhere to His commandments. Then Moses adds, “Not because you are more numerous than any nation did the G-d delight in you and choose you, for you are the least of all the nations.”

Moses wasn’t telling them something they didn’t already know. They were certainly aware of their status as a minority among the nations of the world, so this wasn’t breaking news to them. But he was informing them that despite their size, G-d chose them to be the nation that makes a true difference in the world.

But the difference the Jewish people can potentially make doesn’t come about by simply sitting around and talking about it. Just like the atom doesn’t become a bomb without intervention, so too the Jewish atom — with all its potential — requires splitting. Yes, just when we thought we were as small as we can get, we are told that in order to attain great heights we need to become even smaller. Now, that was news to our ancestors. Sure, we get that being small shouldn’t prevent us from dreaming big, but splitting ourselves further seems to be counterproductive.

Yet, that’s how the atom works and that’s how G-d expects the Jewish people to operate. Not only is being small not restrictive, but it can actually be the source of the great momentum to come.

In a similar vein, this week as Jews around the world commemorate the destruction of our Holy Temples in Jerusalem, culminating with the fast of Tisha B’av, we are reminded that great things are still to come. Following the protracted exile that the Jewish people have been suffering for 2,000 years, we can only imagine the tremendous explosion of good that will come as a result, with the coming of Moshiach, now!

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