Vaeira 5772 – Impurity does not affect small things

The sorcerers did the same with their magic. They tried to bring lice but they could not… (Shemos 8:14)
-because a demon has no power over a creature that is smaller than barley (RASHI)

When it comes to the laws of tumah and tahara (impurity and purity), there are certain minimum sizes for different items. Items that are extremely small cannot be affected by impurity. The strongest form of impurity is a dead body, which transfers impurity to other objects that are even under the same roof, but if an item is small, it does not get affected. It remains pure even if the dead body is touching it. Small items cannot be affected by impurity.

In my humble opinion, I think this is why we need to take small steps instead of large steps when we are working on improving ourselves. I think the reason may be because negative influences do not have power over small things. Therefore, great things can come from small acts.

Many years ago, I was a student at Brandeis University which is located near Boston. When I was there I started to become more religious, but the most positive influence on my life was visiting and eventually living in the Brighton/Brookline community (the religious community of Boston). The interesting thing is I almost never ended up visiting Brighton/Brookline. Some friends and I had plans to spend a Shabbos at a family in the community. We called a taxi service on Friday to pick us up that afternoon. Well, the taxi did not show up on time. We waited some time and called the taxi company again. We waited again for some time and had to call the taxi company a third time. A few moments later, a woman drove up and offered us a ride. She lived in Brookline and would be passing the place where we would be staying. We took the ride with her and had a wonderful Shabbos.

Years later, I was thinking about that first Shabbos I spent in Brighton/Brookline. I remember thinking that if the taxi did not come, I would have spent that Shabbos at Brandeis and probably would have never visited the Brighton/Brookline community – as at that time, it was not the type of community I was looking for (of course, that changed). If that happened, I would not be the person I am today.

What made me make that first visit which changed my life? A woman who went 5 minutes out of her way to drive us to our host’s home. It was a tiny chesed – so tiny that it was not affected by impurity. Since it was a tiny chesed, it was able to influence my entire life and change my future for the better.

The small things we do are extremely powerful!

Good Shabbos
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