A Pebble in the Ocean

What do the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Israel, Australia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Brazil, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Bulgaria, Papua New Guinea, Chile, Kenya, & India have in common?  They are just some of the 31 nations in which my internet blog has been read.  No.  I am not bragging – well maybe just a little.  Indeed, I was as surprised as you are, and maybe more so, when I checked the statistics of my blog only to discover that at least some of what I have written here in Iowa has been read in as many as 31 nations; in many places that I never in my wildest dreams believed that my thoughts and words would ever reach.  But there it was, staring me in the face, with both a list of the various countries  and a color coded map of the world showing that far more of the surface of this planet have been touched by my writing than remains untouched.

Quite some time ago, New York Times journalist Thomas Friedman wrote a book about “globalization.”  He told the reader that we have to come to grips with the fact that our world is truly shrinking; that we on Planet Earth are far more interconnected then we choose to assume.  He was right on target!  The international coverage received by my blog is but one small testimony to that truth.  But you may be further surprised to learn that what Thomas Friedman was espousing in modern times was anticipated by a Hasidic rabbi in the 19th century.  In TALES OF THE HASIDIM, Martin Buber shares some of the teachings of Rabbi Avraham Yaakov of Sadagora, who died in 1883.  Rabbi Avraham said:  “Everything can teach us something, and not only what God has created.  What man has made also has something to teach us… One Hasd asked dubiously, ‘What can we learn from a telephone?’  What we say here is heard there.”  From the statistics, it would seem that the readership of my blog testifies to the truth of Rabbi Avraham’s, and Thomas Friedman’s, teachings.  What is said here is heard there.

The point is that what each and every one of us say and do can, and indeed does, have an international impact.  We can, and do, make a difference in this world.  All too often we think of ourselves as small and insignificant when it comes to changing the world around us.  But in truth we are like the pebble that is dropped into the ocean.  Being so dropped, the pebble does create ripples which travel outward and ultimately  result in changing the very face of the entire ocean; whose impact is felt as far away as a foreign shore.  Like the pebble, our words and our deeds travel outward, and continue to travel, traversing great distances and touching countless people; people whose names and faces are completely unknown to us.  When we think we do not matter, we are merely selling ourselves short, for we do matter.  We matter greatly.

Recently, the students of my Jewish community’s joint religious school packaged meals for a program called Kids Against Hunger.  In the course of one Sunday morning, they packed the equivalent of 2,880 meals.  When you consider that the ideal goal is that every human being should consume 3 meals a day, every day, then doing the math, we discover that to feed one person adequately for one year, we need to provide 1,095 meals.  In the course of a morning, our small religious school provided almost enough food to feed one person for two years or two people for one year.  The representative of the Kids Against Hunger program informed our students that this program recently reached the 1 million meal mark.  In other words, they have created enough meals to feed over 913 people for a year.  This program has made a difference.  Our children, in the course of 90 minutes on one Sunday morning have made a difference.

Each and every one of us can make a real difference in this world.  Whether or not we do so is purely up to us.  Each and every one of us must come to recognize that it is within our power to change the world for the better, and then proceed to choose to work to bring such change into our world.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Connecting With Others, Hasidism, Henry Karp, hunger, Iowa, Joint Religious School of Temple Emanuel & Congregation Beth Israel, Kids Against Hunger, Mitzvah / Mitzvot, Quad Cities, Quad Cities Jewish Community, Rabbi Avraham Yaakov of Sadagora, Relationships, technology, Temple Emanuel of Davenport, This Blog, Tikkun Olam, Tri City Jewish Center

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3 Comments on “A Pebble in the Ocean”

  1. agarfield5 Says:

    Greetings, Rabbi. I just love your retelling of the Buber/Yaakov story and while the Friedman update only adds to your basic thesis, I suspect that the ‘pebble in the water’ analogy does not. In fact, physics informs us that the ripple will dissipate quickly. The span and effect will be small and temporal. Yet Friedman, Rabbi Yaakov and your blog demonstrate to us that in this small village, we do affect each other. No doubt about it. Thanks for this inspirational blog post.

  2. ravkarp Says:

    Thank you, Alan, for the very kind remarks. Actually, the “pebble in the water” analogy does in fact work when you consider the Law of Conservation of Energy. Since energy can be neither created or destroyed, the energy generated by dropping the pebble in the ocean continues onward throughout the ocean. It may be transformed but it is never destroyed. Therefore it does impact the entire ocean. It does, in its own way, touch foreign shores. As far as the effect being small, that is not the issue. The issue is that it does have an effect. As far as the effect being temporal, everything and everyone on our planet are temporal. We are finite beings living in a finite world, with only God being the only infinite. It is our very temporal finite nature which should drive us to make the most of our time so that our limited existence produces the greatest positive impact. The harsh reality is that whatever we do, we do make a difference, for better or for worse. So let us concentrate our efforts to make our difference for the better.

    As you know so well, Alan, your friendship is deeply valued. Yours has been a most positive impact upon my life and the life of my family.

  3. agarfield5 Says:

    Henry, my friend. Some small pebbles are physical and when dunked, as such, have long tails which might exist (theoretically). But ideas are the true “butterfly-wings-in-the-sahara”. They are the pebbles that never disappear. There’s logic and Jewish logic; physics and metaphysics. Your blog, Mr. Rabbi Metaphysician, will impact the ocean out there. You document it in a most interesting way, but that’s redundant. We have all seen and experienced it already.


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