The Power of Man – A Parable

We do not always appreciate how important our actions are. The Maggid, in his commentary to Koheles 5:1, brings the matter into focus with a sharp parable.
A certain man worked as a architect, engaged in drawing diagrams of buildings. One day the architect received from a distant province a small diagram of a splendid mansion, breathtaking in its length, width, and many spacious rooms and lofts. He told his assistant to make a copy of this diagram, so that he could marvel at it and design a similar building when the opportunity would arise. The assistant made a painstakingly accurate replica of the diagram. He then brought his drawing to the architect, who examined it exactingly. The architect noticed that the assistant’s copy was missing a certain dot that appeared in the original drawing, and he got very angry and bawled the assistant out. The assistant asked him: “My master, why are you so upset over the absence of one tiny dot, which practically no one will ever notice?” The architect replied angrily: “You fool! How could you say such a thing? You should realize that the absence of this dot respresents a major flaw in the building. Think for a moment about how big the actual building is, and how small this diagram is. You will then see that this dot in the diagram corresponds to a sophisticated component in the actual building – a component whose absence would ruin the entire structure.”
The parallel is as follows. Hashem created splendid and highly sophisticated worlds in the heavens above, compared to which the entire expanse of the earth is like nothing. The greatness of these worlds is beyond fathom. And Hashem fashioned man as a miniture replica of these great upper worlds, with each of his senses, faculties, and traits corresponding to some component of these worlds. Man is thus called a miniture universe. (The sefer Nefesh HaChaim by Rav Chaim of Volozhin expounds on this idea at length.) Accordingly, his smallest act – even his speech – sets into motion an unfathomably great mechanism in the heavens above.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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