Small details such as daily acts of kindness, and greeting everyone with a cheerful face, may not make us feel like Hollywood stars or powerful supermen and women, but, as Nathan demonstrated to us, they are the ones that make us, and the world around us better and brighter.

Rabbi Allouche

We love “big” news, don’t we?

This week alone, media outlets were mesmerized by Oprah’s interview of British Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan. The third COVID-19 stimulus bill also made headlines, and the list goes on.

We also seem to find great delight in the milestones of our lives. Marriage, bringing children into the world and volunteering at our local community centers, almost always cause great joy and satisfaction. But when it comes to the small acts of goodness and kindness that present themselves every day, our enthusiasm is often lessened, and our commitment is sometimes decreased.

The same phenomenon can be found in our relationship with G-d. Many of us readily commit to keeping Kosher, praying every day, and even observing the Sabbath. But fighting the small battles – such as praying with a bit more concentration, studying a little more Torah, being extra sensitive to the feelings of our fellows, being careful about the words that come out of our mouths – seem as insurmountable as climbing Mount Everest!

Why? Why are the big battles so easy to fight, while the tiny ones are so difficult to overcome?

The answer lies in the detailed recounting of the construction of the Tabernacle and its many vessels in the wilderness. With great details, and over four portions (!), the Torah recounts the different building methods used, and it even reveals the exact measurements of each and every beam and vessel. But why dedicate so many verses to such redundant details? Why take the risk of boring its readers?

Perhaps, it is because Judaism believes that G-d is found mostly in the details of life. Big splashes are easy to create, but they don’t last. It is specifically the small sacrifices that ultimately refine and define us. Like the time we exercise self-control and withstand a luring temptation. Or like the time we give our spouse and children the undivided attention they so desire. Or like the time we smile, share an encouraging word, and lift a broken spirit.

This thought struck me this week, as our community mourns the passing of a beloved member of the greater Phoenix Jewish community, Nathan Efune, of blessed memory.  Nathan, who was lovingly known by so many as “Zaidy”, was a giant of a man, with an exemplary strength of spirit, character, and conviction. But above all, he was a man who never missed an opportunity to bring joy to every person he encountered – Jews and non-Jews, friends and strangers, young and old. He greeted everyone with an open heart, a sincere smile, an encouraging word, and a lending hand, and with an obsession for helping and giving his all, to all. We will miss Nathan and his physical and shining presence. But in his life, and even in his passing, he has taught us how to live. 

Small details such as daily acts of kindness, and greeting everyone with a cheerful face, may not make us feel like Hollywood stars or powerful supermen and women, but as Nathan demonstrated to us all, they are the ones that make us, and the world around us better and brighter. Indeed, they may not make headlines on the world’s stage. But they will make headlines on the stage of the One Above.

And ultimately, that is the only stage that truly matters.