First From Cantor Lee:
During a seminar I recently attended I learned about the work of a classmate who volunteers for an organization that helps families from being deported. In her most recent case, a mother and two young children were saved from returning to their homeland where they would have had to live in fear for their safety. I told the woman that Judaism teaches that saving one life is seen as saving the entire world! My classmate answered "I haven't saved the world! This is just one. There are so many!!"
She further explained that she was familiar with the teaching but felt it could only be true from the mystic's view point. She couldn't understand this teaching from her viewpoint. I replied that I understood the teaching in the same way she did. It depends on the "world" we are currently living in to determine how we understand this teaching.
I asked Rabbi David to give his understanding from his world...
From Rabbi David aka The Reb
There is a saying in Hebrew which roughly translates as "For he who saves one soul, it is as if he saves an entire world". No other expression has more profound meaning in our tumultuous times than this one. It is the essence of the Jewish people who brought to a barbaric world the idea of sanctity of life and with it the ideals of compassion, kindness and decency. We the Jewish people, miniscule in number compared to the world population, are leading the ideological fight against an ever growing monstrous number of fanatics who worship death and are inflicting suffering and destruction all over the world.
In our modern times this saying has transformed itself from theoretical moral guidance of the Jewish people to a ray of hope for all people in a world which appears to be growing darker. This light is a strong one. It gives us the strength to repair the world, making it a better place for our children despite our modern horrifying adversaries. By now, the sanctity of life is well implanted in our hearts and in the hearts of light workers around the world.
The idea of saving a life of even one person is an important part of the war against modern dark forces coming from the Middle East and beyond. It has become our main weapon in the challenge of the Sons of Light to overcome the Sons of Darkness as was accurately predicted by our ancestors. In fact, there is a book "War of the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness" written around 2,000 years ago by the Essenes, a Jewish sect of highly spiritual desert dwellers, which accurately predicts our modern time struggles.
As with many Hebrew sayings, the specific content reflects a much broader line of thoughts. While the phrase "an entire world" in the Hebrew is understood as Earth, our physical world, it also reflects the saving of the physical and spiritual world of the individual. That means that physically saving an individual has far reaching results. It also means helping the individual's private world of family and friends as well as the individual's inner spiritual world.
But how can saving an individual help to ease the suffering of millions around the world? Any act of kindness such saving a person's life or even a loving thought has an accumulative effect. It contributes in a not so small way to our light of hope for a better world by injecting a small dosage of kindness into the fabric of the our world . As we all know, many points of light eventually illuminates as a powerful ray.
Saving even one person's life is indeed a powerful answer to a world growing brutal. It is a true celebration of the appreciation of life and that indeed will be the light that will overcome any dark clouds threatening humanity's survival.