In this week’s parsha we talk about how the little things can make a difference.
A man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking up starfish that had washed ashore, and throwing them back into the ocean.
“What are you doing?” asked the man.
“The surf is up and the tide is going out,” replied the boy, “if I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”
“Son,” said the man, “don’t you realize there are hundreds of starfish out there? You can’t make a difference!”
After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the ocean.
Smiling at the man, the boy said, “Well, I sure made a difference for that one.”
There are moments in life when we catch ourselves evaluating the worth of a single good deed in our vast and imperfect universe. Is there a point in taking action when we cannot see how our efforts will actually make a difference?
I think the young boy in our story holds the answer to this question, for despite the fact that saving one single starfish seemed insignificant against the hundreds dying on the shore, he still recognized the value in the good deed at hand.
Similarly, though we cannot always appreciate how our individual acts will make a difference and perhaps, therefore, our intentions may not be fully sincere, nevertheless, if we are faced with an opportunity to do a good deed, we ought to take action.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, was once asked for his opinion on honoring individuals with titles such as “Man of the Year” and the like. Should we not pursue goodness for its own sake, rather than for honor? The Rebbe’s response was refreshingly practical: don’t belittle a good deed regardless of the intentions involved–as long as positive things are being accomplished, continue to offer recognition!
Let’s spend less time analyzing the merit in our actions…let’s simply get the job done!