Wednesday, September 28th | 3 Tishri 5783

March 14, 2016 2:26 am

To Make a Big Change, Find the Small Ones First

avatar by Levy Lieberman

Clows and hamentashen on Purim. Photo: Wiki Commons.

Clowns and hamentashen on Purim. Photo: Wiki Commons.

Sometimes, the most massive amounts of energy are found in the tiniest of places. We tend to have a “go big or go home” mindset, suggesting that bigger is better. Similarly, we often believe that change, meaning and making a difference must be found in big places out there in the world.

Instead of looking outward for meaning or ways to have massive effects, perhaps we should look inward. This concept applies to individuals in personal situations, scientific research, businesses, and also in Jewish thought.


During the next major Jewish holiday, Purim, there are lessons surrounding the concept of looking inward. But it gets more specific than that. Jews are asked to separate the mind from the rest of the being. When the mind is out of the picture, and focus is solely on the soul, we reach heights that allow us to experience purity and truth. The soul alone isn’t concerned with logic or reasoning; rather, it comes to conclusions based on the purest, most innocent and true reasons. It sees things a certain way because it’s part of who the person is as a being, and not because of logical dictate. In other words, the mind supplies us with details and distractions that when removed, allow us to focus on our essence, our being: the soul.

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By Talmudic dictate one is obligated to drink to the point where he can no longer make the distinction between “cursed be Haman, and blessed be Mordechai. The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains this oddity by noting that it’s obvious the meaning of this isn’t that it is okay to blur the lines between good (Mordechai) and evil (Haman).

Instead, it is meant to illustrate the need to recognize the absolute nature of these opposing forces. At their very core, the forces of good are in line with godliness and spirituality, and those of evil completely antithetical to it. It is from within this state of awareness that the true and awesome power of the soul can shine forth, and subsequently influence our daily lives, in a very real and practical manner.

We have the tendency to reach new heights when actively celebrating our Jewishness, and then quickly thereafter return to the unmotivated routine we experienced before. The purpose is that the high moments we experience, like the one described above for Purim, will stay with us and we can ingrain the experience and the high into our lives moving forward.

As a result, we are empowered to be the more giving, less self-centered beings we all strive to become.


By way of analogy, the Rebbe draws on the discovery of the atom bomb. Only by breaking matter into sub-atomic particles –- by peeling away at its many layers and reaching to its very core — can the enormous reservoirs of energy be unlocked and suddenly pit a small atom against the mightiest of armies and weapons.


Take this and think about your venture. If you want to make a large impact, perhaps start by focusing on something extremely specific and particular. See if that one seemingly minuscule thing can be qualitative and explosive. It’s common to try something huge and revolutionary, but maybe the revolution itself happens when we delve a few steps deeper into just one aspect of our business. Try thinking of something really small and specific to focus on. You might find that developing that will be very influential.

In short, sometimes it’s not the quantity, but the quality that counts. The best way to make a difference might just be by searching inside and focusing on small things that at their core can have huge impacts and be extremely powerful.

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