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Making a True and Lasting Impact in the World

Karen Berg
November 18, 2011
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It is often said that in the lifetime of great people, we seldom appreciate having them around or appreciate what they do. It’s only when they leave us that we realize their worth and really understand their merit. Believe it or not, Vincent Van Gogh was barely known when he was alive. The same situation applied to Sarah from the Bible.

The Bible tells us that Sarah lived to the age of 127, but looked as if she were 20 and was as pure as if she were seven. From a kabbalistic perspective, this means that though she had encompassed many years in her life, the Light that was inside of her was never diminished.

People age, but if you look at those who continuously take positive actions in life, they always seem to be able to fulfill those around them, no matter how old they are. At the same time, there are people in their 30s or 40s who are so involved in themselves that they are not pleasant to be with. It works the other way, too: We are never too young to make a difference in this world.

I read a story this week about a nine-year-old girl named Rachel Wheeler from Florida. After hearing about the devastation and homelessness in Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake, this young girl made a decision to make a difference. She set a goal for herself to raise enough money to build 12 new homes for people through the help of an international relief organization.

Starting small, Rachel organized bake sales and sold homemade potholders at her school, eventually reaching out for donations from more and more people in her community. In total, Rachel raised $250,000, with which aid agencies in Haiti were able to build 27 new homes for the earthquake victims. In less than two years, Rachel managed to positively change the lives of hundreds.

What we can learn from Sarah, and from Rachel, is that sometimes the usual things we strive for in this world—money, position, respect—are in and of themselves nothing. In the end, the only way we can have a real and lasting impact is through the deeds we do that cause a positive change in the lives of others.

Certainly, money, position, and respect can be tools that can help us in this mission—but they cannot be our end goal, for in and of themselves they do not last. Everything in this physical world is impermanent and transitory—everything, that is, except for the energy we create.

This week, the cosmos gives us the opportunity to evaluate our goals. Every day that we live is like a basket that we are constantly filling with our actions. If we go through the day consistently gathering garbage, we will have garbage at the end of the day. On the other hand, if we always fill our baskets with positive actions that increase the Light in the life of others , then when the day is done we will have a basket full of energy that will never fade.

The choice is ours.