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Thursday, 8 October 2015

All you need is a phone-booth!

Daf Yomi Nazir 46


Bill’s canoe had been sitting in the shed for years.  It was about time he had it fixed up and back out on the lake.  He hires Freddie to repaint it.   Freddie does a beautiful job and then leaves it by the lake to dry.  Later that afternoon, Bill’s teenage sons, Dale and Mario, notice the freshly-painted canoe and decide to beat Dad to it and take it out for a little cruise.

They’re in the middle of the lake having a blast when Bill suddenly notices them through the window. 
He comes out screaming, “Come back, come back!  The boat has a hole in it!  You’ll drown out there!”  But alas, they don’t hear him they’re so far out.  He’s waving his hands like a madman trying to get their attention, when along comes Freddie and asks what all the fuss is about.
“They’ve taken out my boat I asked you to paint.  But I forgot there’s a hole in the bottom.  They don’t have lifejackets and they can’t swim that far to get back to shore!” 

He’s just about to jump into the water to try to swim out to them, when Freddie grabs him by the shirt.
“Whoa, buddy,” he says.  “Chill, would you?  I saw the little hole and I patched it up.”
“Are you serious?” replies Bill. “I owe my life to you!  You are a hero!”
“What’s the big deal?” says Freddie. “It was a tiny little hole.  It took me three minutes to fix.  I’m really no hero. . .”

Mishnah: The nazir would cook or stew his peace offering. The cohen would take the cooked forearm of the ram, one matzah from the basket and one matzah wafer and place them on the palms of the nazir and wave them.  After that, the nazir is permitted to drink wine and come into contact with impurity.   Rabbi Shimon says: Once any of the blood has been sprinkled, the nazir is permitted to drink wine and to come into contact with the dead. 
Beraisa: The Torah declares, “And afterwards, the nazir may drink wine.”  Rabbi Eliezer says: After all the rituals.  But the Sages say: After a single action. 

Until this point, the nazir has been in a different league to everyone around him.  He may not drink wine.  He may not shave.  He may not attend a funeral.  And then he completes his nazirite term and all of a sudden, he is just like everyone else.   In fact, according to the Sages, all it takes is a single action to transform him back to Clark Kent.

But if all it takes is a single act to rejoin the Clark Kent ranks, then certainly if you would want to transform the other way around into Superman, all it should take is a single act!   All you need is a phone booth and with one action, you could become transformed.  A minute ago, you were just like the rest of us, now you are qualitatively different!

One little mitzvah and you can transform yourself and the whole world for the better.  It may not seem like a big deal, but in G-d’s eyes, it is gigantic!  It is the work of superheroes!  One little coin to tzedakah.  One little prayer.  One little word of Torah.  One little kind word of encouragement to someone struggling.

How does that work?  Maimonides, based on the Talmud, teaches that whenever when one is faced with a dilemma of action, he should view the world as perched precariously upon a scale.  One mitzvah could tip the world to the balance of Hashem’s favour.  But the wrong choice could, G-d forbid, tip the scale in the opposite direction.  In other words, your single act truly has the power to be transformational, not just for yourself, but for the entire universe! 

When Freddie fixed Bill’s boat, he really didn’t think much of it.  What was it already?  Just a little patch that took him a few minutes.  But little did he know, that small single act would save the lives of Dale and Mario!  The Talmud states that one who saves a life, it is as if he saved the entire world.  With Freddie’s one little act, he saved and transformed the entire world!


You have no idea what a little mitzvah can do.  Every single act is precious and can transform the world.  May you recognize your superhero powers, viewing every little action as the pivotal difference that will determine the outcome of the entire universe!