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Small but not insignificant

Thursday, 22 August, 2013 - 11:34 am

Several years ago we took the kids to the Audubon Insectarium. One of their more popular exhibits is the exotic butterfly garden. As a security measure, the butterfly garden’s two phased exit is set up so that both doors are not open at the same time, which prevents the butterflies from escaping.

During our visit a child mistakenly opened one door while the other was open and a butterfly escaped into the main exhibit area. The entire facility went into emergency lockdown mode. All exits were secured and they set out to locate the runaway butterfly. Within 15 minutes they find it hiding in an AC vent. It took about another 15 minutes to get a ladder and climb up with a net to capture the butterfly and bring it back to its proper place.

I asked one of the staffers why it was so imperative to capture the butterfly before it gets out into the street. He explained that since it was not an indigenous species it could cause harm to the local ecosystem with its eating habits and reproductive pace.

In light of the Baal Shemtov’s instruction to apply every encounter as a lesson in serving G-d, I thought that this is a very appropriate Elul lesson. Sometimes we think of certain Mitzvot or transgressions as small or insignificant. We regard it as no big deal in the scope of history or the vastness of the universe.

The anecdote of the escaped butterfly teaches that even the smallest thing can have a major impact on something very large. Indeed the Rambam teaches that a person should always view the next step they are about to take as the one that can impact the future of humanity and the entire world. As such, when we engage in Elul reckoning we must also account for the “small” deeds – good and bad – as they can be a major factor in our own lives and the world around us.

Our heartfelt condolences are extended to Natalia and Fernando Promoslovsky upon the passing of her mother.

Mazel Tov to Sarah and Zev Attias upon the birth of their son. The Bris will be held this Sunday at 1 PM at Chabad of Metairie. We look forward to celebrating with them.

May Hashem bless each and every one of us with a happy, healthy, prosperous and meaningful new year of 5774.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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