To Save a World

I know yesterday I wrote about the sorrow that sometimes permeates my life. Yet today I want to write about something that gave me joy, if my own part in “Tikkun Olam” (repairing the world) is perhaps a small one. I thought of it only because watching TV I saw a segment of a news show I saw Bill Gates explain how he is using his money to repair the environment and end world poverty. There are two Jewish expressions which explicate Tikkun Olam, “to save a life is to save a world,” and “you may not be able to save the world but to one person you may be the world.” I remember working at a mental health club, I saw this at work in my helping teach a brain-damaged patient, Larry Davis, how to read and write and do basic math.

I never doubted that if I saved that one soul–in the sense of teaching him how to take care of himself, as he had been able to do before a horrible car accident–I would have done all God demanded of me in this life. Yet in helping him a miracle occurred. I was able to help take care of other sick patients. I always think it is almost a sin to mention it because as a child I believed that when a person gives, it is a holier gift if they get nothing in return. I believed that still, and still do. Yet I feel compelled to tell my story anyway. I believe in helping save Larry I helped save a “world”–Breakthrough–for the members. Perhaps if each of us saved our “world”: a stranger, not just a relative or a friend, we would all save the world together. Perhaps by saving one world we save THE world itself.

Though as a Jew it is perhaps impious to quote the New Testament, I want to tell a story about Jesus which explicates my position. Jesus was ministering to a crowd and his disciples asked him, in effect, “How do we feed all these people?” He told them there would be a way. And a little boy gave him five loaves and two fishes. So Jesus took these foodstuffs and divided them into small pieces and each person in the crowd received a small piece of bread and fish. Everyone went home satisfied.

A person might question whether this was physically possible. Yet spiritually it is possible. Spiritually giving away the magic penny always brings more pennies. Spiritually it is always better to give than to receive. And that is why Jesus’ crucifixion supposedly saved the world. More, it is why Rabbi Akiba’s death helped save Judaism; why Buddha’s renouncing his royalty brought salvation to the Buddhist; and why other religious leaders have been called on to make great sacrifices to save their flock. My own personal favorite examples are Mother Teresa–who left everything she owned to help lepers–and Mahatma Gandhi–who ultimately died for India–of the extreme art of giving.

I never want to die a martyr–nobody who isn’t a fool does–but I hope if God demanded it I would obey. I know that worldly goods are not equal to spiritual goods. Yet poverty is one of the greatest evils that exist–along with warfare and disease. And ending these evils are simply a form of love–charity in Christianity and Tzedakah in Judaism.

So it was that I believe–and I hope I am not an egotist in believing it–that when I get to Heaven the first person I meet is Larry Davis. I believe my work at Breakthrough was the greatest work I shall ever do, and if I have any regrets it is that I am too worn out to go back to Breakthrough to do more work. Though I loved The Bible According to Eve as a book, I believe that it itself would not exist or be credible if I had not worked at Breakthrough–where I had the inspiration to write it.

Published by hadassahalderson

I am a professional author who lives in Wichita, KS. I went to Friends University and spent one year at Claremont Graduate University. My published work includes: The Bible According to Eve I-IV and Faust in Love.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: