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Am I Responsible For the Entire World?

Am I Responsible For the Entire World?

from the upcoming book ”Wisdom to Heal the Earth”


If you’ve saved one person’s life, the Mishnah teaches, you’ve saved an entire world.

Now does that make sense? A person is just a person, a very small part of a very, very big world, right?

But the Mishnah says otherwise. Each of us is the world. Not just like an entire world. Not just worth an entire world. You are the world.

How is that possible?

Think of yourself. As far as you are concerned, if you are gone, everything is gone. And the same applies for every other person on this planet.

What is your world made of? Take the sum total of everything that has ever influenced or affected you. That’s your world. Take the sum total of everything that affects the other guy. That’s the other guy’s world. Take everything that affects a cow, and that is the world of the cow. Or a tree. Or even a hammer. When you pick up a hammer, it has entered your world, and you have also entered its world. The same thing with anything and everything.

It goes further than that:

Who sits at the center of your world? You do. Who sits at the center of the other guy’s world? He does (or she does). And the cow, too, sits at the center of its world.

Which means that you must be aware that, when you walk into someone else’s life, someone else sits at the center, and you are but a satellite.

And yet we are all in the same world.

Who’s At Center?

That’s a very different view of reality than we’re used to. Certainly, if you or I would design a world, we wouldn’t do it that way. We would have one center and spread things out from there.

But this world was created by a consciousness that’s beyond finite and infinite.The Creator of this world has no problem creating a finite world with infinite centers—one for every existence within it.

It’s not possible for a created being to see its world from the perspective of its Creator. But we can get an idea of what it is like by trying to see our world from a different dimension:

Think of the surface of a sphere—like the globe of the earth. Before people understood that the earth was a sphere, they were all looking for the center of the map, the point equidistant from all extremes.

But now that we know we are sitting on a big ball in space, ask: Which point is the center of the surface of the globe?

Well, any point you want. And every point.

Now imagine our reality—not just all three dimensions and the continuum of time, but also ideas, emotions, experiences, pain and pleasure—everything that makes up every conscious being—stretched over another dimension of consciousness. Just like the points on the surface of the sphere, each one of us is the center of all reality.

Where’s the Tipping Point?

So you are the world. Your consciousness sits at the center of this world, and everything you know of, everything that affects your consciousness in some way or other, comprises your world.

In the Creator’s mind, a world is a place of purpose. If so, nothing in your world could possibly be without meaning. If you see it, hear about it or even just know about it, it’s telling you something. And you need to do something with that.

Which explains something Maimonides wrote 800 years ago. “See yourself as though the entire world is held in balance,” he taught “and any one deed you do could tip the scales for you and the entire world to the good.”

Now that makes a lot of sense. When you’re faced with an opportunity to do something that could benefit the world—or do the opposite— everything in your world is pulling or pushing in some direction. A decision of this sort means you’re now in the driver’s seat. It’s your turn to turn to be the active party in your universe and do something with everything else.

So that when you say, “I’m not taking the easy way out. I’m not following the flock. I’m going to do what’s right!”—you are carrying an entire world along with you.

As the Mishnah continues, “Therefore, every person must say, ‘The whole world was created for me.’” Meaning, “for me to tip the scales. For me to make the entire world the way it was meant to be."

Because you are the world.

Reshimot, 44.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
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Carlos Santos Dothan AL April 25, 2017

Great way to look at things. From the richest on the most poor, the most powerful to the least can make a difference. Just as a minute act of charity for one person leads on to that needy person to have plenty down the road shows a way how we can be connected to the world and making a "rift" so G-d permits it. Reply

Thea Stoner (Santos) Jax FL July 8, 2017
in response to Carlos Santos:

Just imagine what that type of thinking would have done for your marriage. Reply

Orah Prendergast jamaica March 4, 2017

Rabbi Freeman article Shalom Rabbi Freeman,I really enjoyed your views on Am I responsible For tbe Entire World,was great and well organized. Hashem gave us the wisdom to heal ourselves and the world. Reply

Brenda Toronto, Canada March 3, 2017

Mutual Responsibility G_d has built us in a network structure so that the only way to experience peace and harmony is to realize ourselves as an integrated world.
- Then nobody needs to live in an egoistic mentality where he cares only for himself, even at the expense and harm of others.

G_d has exposed this hidden structure to us through our global world. No organization or institution will survive if our behaviour does not match our spiritual structure. Reply

Charles L. Richman Fripp Island, SC March 1, 2017

How could humans allow the Holocaust to happen? And Hashem asks "How could humans allow the Shoah to happen".
We were given free when we left Gan Eden; we can either do and say what it is just or not or say and do nothing. We should in all ways possible do what is just. First we have to know what is just, the Holy Torah, commentaries by our rabbis of yesteryear and today, etc. should be our guide to action. For example we should not sit quietly when Israel is attacked by rockets, the press, or the UN; we must not sit quietly when our cemeteries are desecrated, we must not sit quietly when Shuls, Jewish Day Schools, Jewish Community centers, etc., are threatened; and, we must not sit quietly when our neighbors are attacked. Hashem gave us the ability to know good from evil, and the ability to act for a purpose. Reply

Sandra February 27, 2017

Beautiful Really beautiful Reply