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Saving the world

Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.

For those who are familiar with the Talmud, this is a famous excerpt that is very much worth remembering and repeating. If you are not familiar with the Talmud, it is a collection of writings (the Mishnah and the Gemara) that cover the gamut of Jewish law and tradition. Regardless of its origin, the sentences have profound meaning, now as much as when the Talmud was written in 200 and 500 CE.

The quote occurred to me yesterday in conjunction with the death of Kate Spade. We are reminded that money, fame and achievements in the public eye do not necessitate mental well-being or happiness. From the outside, we would have believed that Kate had everything anyone would have wanted from life. But obviously, this was not the case.

In terms of one life saving the world, my hope is that her death has influence on those who are struggling with life and need counseling or support. We don’t know what other legacies she left. But if others benefit in some way, we can be certain that she showed us what alternatives are available to us.

The quote was often cited in terms of Oskar Schindler who saved the lives of 1200 Jews during World War II. In modern day terms, we all have the potential to save the world through thoughtful intervention. If we see someone around us who is struggling or fragile, it is our responsibility and privilege to guide that person toward help. Likewise, when we are at risk or without solution, it is our empowerment to identify agencies or professionals who can assist.

May the memory of Kate Spade be for a blessing. We can hope that those whom she left behind will be comforted by their memories and the accomplishments of her life. For those of us who didn’t know her, we can hope that her death saves portions of the world she left. Shalom.

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