The next thing you do can change the world. Maimonides, the great sage of the 12th century, uses a powerful metaphor to teach this lesson.
At this cusp of the New Year, imagine that the scales of the universe are perfectly balanced between good and evil. What happens next will cause God to tip the balance.
The Power of Imagination
Perhaps this idea seems absurd. “Come on, rabbi, that’s fantasy,” you may be thinking. “God doesn’t care what I do right here and right now.” You may be right.
But imagine if we lived with this perspective? Imagine if the next words we said to our spouse tipped the scales of the world from hostility to kindness. Imagine if the way we treated the next stranger we meet tipped the scales from indifference to empathy.
In fact, some people don’t just imagine. They do.
The Porter Who Saved a Life
Earlier this year a member of my synagogue told me a story. It happened during the the late 1960s, when the former Soviet Union began to allow a tiny number of people to leave the country. She and her family were fleeing from Romania. When they arrived in Germany, they had to pay an admittance tax.
It was not an exorbitant amount, but they had absolutely no money. It had been confiscated. If they did not pay the tax, their papers would not get stamped. They would be turned back.
They talked with the customs official. They cried. They pleaded. Frustrated by the delay, people in line began to shout at them to move out of the way.
Then something happened. The airport worker who had carried their bags to the customs office set them down. He took some money out of his pocket. He paid the clerk. He turned around and walked back toward the airplane. He never said a word. They never saw him again.
Would you say this was a miracle?
A miracle does not have to violate the laws of science. A miracle happens when the veil behind which God is hidden is lifted and our perspective changes. A miracle happens when God works through human hands.
By Evan Moffic,
(This is excerpted from my Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year’s sermon, 2012)