Significance of the Insignificant

          Judaism is a paradox in its core belief. On one hand we are told that we the human being make all the difference. The world was created for our sole purpose and is there for us to elevate it. On the other hand, we are taught from day one that God is the only one that matters. The whole world only exists because he wishes it so. If for a moment he would stop to give the world vitality, it would cease to exist. Therefore the fact is, God is the only reality. To quote Nicolaus Copernicus, “The massive bulk of the earth does indeed shrink to insignificance in comparison with the size of the heavens”.

            So which is it? Who is the top cat? Is God the only significant one? How can this be true if this whole world is there for us? It seems that we are the significant insignificants.

            To correctly analyze and understand this quandary, we can look to the holiday of Chanukah. The highlight and fundamental cause for the holiday, is that one jug of oil which was sufficient for one day, lasted for eight.

           The Rabbis ask why they picked this miracle out of the rest that occurred. After all there was the miraculous victory of the small Macabee army over the Syrian- Greek armies. The very fact that the jug was found is also a miracle. So what is the underlying message for us all?

            The other day on the way to work, I was listening to the radio. The bulk of the program was on holiday anxiety. The doctor explained holiday anxiety to be a person who is alone during times when everyone else is running home to be with family. The feeling of gloom and loneliness sets in. The feeling of coming home to an empty apartment is that no one knows or cares that you exist. The feeling of insignificance.

            There is a study that states, that many crimes are committed by people with too much time on their hands. Either because lack of social life or lack of work or school to attend. These people have to do something to matter.

            At the times of the holidays, it is only right to look to the holiday itself for a cure. In the story of Chanukah, there were a few miracles. There was the military victory and the miracle of the oil. If the Jewish people would have just won and not been able to rededicate the temple by lighting the menorah, the whole victory would have been overshadowed. This one small jug made all the difference.

            The finding of that jug made all the difference between eight days of holiday and a bittersweet victory. That jug was the difference between just surviving the war and thriving and building anew.

            This approach is present in Jewish thought throughout the year. A story is told of Rabbi Sholom DovBer, the fifth Chabad master. He was very fond of a certain group of simple Jews in the community. Although not learned, their passion and dedication to their religion could not be matched.

            One day one of the Rebbe’s close followers, who happened to be a diamond merchant, asked the Rebbe why he received much joy from simple acts that everyone in the community does. The Rebbe turned to him and asked to see some diamonds.

            As with anyone describing his profession, the merchant went into great detail pointing out the specialty of each diamond. To this the Rebbe replied, “I don’t see it”.

            The merchant said, “For this, you have to be a maven”.

            The Rebbe answered him, “Aha! To understand the true worth of a person, you have to be a maven”.

           God created the world in order for us to make it a better place – a place worthy of God’s dwelling. For this, God put in motion millions of idiosyncrasies to make this possible. Nothing in the world is a coincidence. The fact that you are here is all part of his master plan. This means that without you being here, everything would fall apart at the seams. Therefore everyone is part of the team. Everyone is significant.

           According to this line of thought, Moses and the water carrier are in fact the same. While one may have been well versed and knowledgeable he matters just as much any regular Joe.

            In the game of baseball, more than in other sports, there is the concept of individual accomplishments to achieve a team goal. There are nine players in the field for the Marlins. Not everyone is as good as Miguel Cabrera. But without the other eight, he would not be able to shine. So in fact everyone there is important.

            In the book Ethics of our Fathers it is taught, “Do not regard any man with contempt, for this no man who does not have his hour”.

           The message from this Chanukah holiday is that even the smallest “nobody” can make all the difference. God is the boss but he put us in charge of quite a responsibility. To accomplish his goal we are all significant just like that small hidden jug of oil.