It may appear paradoxical, but the emphasis on the universal, on the ultimate oneness of all, also emphasizes the particular. For everything created by G‑d, thus everything that is part of the universal, is created for a distinct purpose, with a distinct task in relation to the whole. "All that the Holy One, blessed be He, created in His world, He created solely for His glory." Every particular, therefore, is indispensable.

The toe-nails, no less than the heart and the brain, have their individual purpose: each one necessary to, and complementing, the other for the complete and perfect functioning of the body. Affectations of the toes become affectations of the brain, and vice versa. The ill-health or pain of the one affect the well- being and functioning of the other.

To be sure, we do make quite clear distinctions between them. We speak of vital and non-vital, higher and lower, more and less- important organs and limbs. We set up qualitative as well as quantitative scales of levels and values. Nonetheless, they are all intertwined, interdependent, interacting, with every particular adding its own contribution for which it was created. This contribution is its very function. To achieve it is to contribute to the well-being, the yichud, of the whole . To neglect it leads to perud, a division and defect in the whole.

In this context, too, it was said that everyone should always regard the whole world as half meritorious and half guilty. When committing a single sin, therefore, woe to him for turning the scale of guilt against himself and against the whole world. Thus it is said, "One sinner destroys much good" (Ecclesiastes 9:18), that is, on account of the sin of that individual he and the whole world lose much good. On the other hand, if he performs one mitzvah, happy is he for turning the scale of merit in his favour and in favour of the whole world, thus bringing salvation and deliverance to them, as it is said, "The righteous man is the foundation of the world" (Proverbs 10:25). (Kidushin 40b; Rambam, Hilchot Teshuvah 3:4.) (Note, though, that this weighing of sin against virtues is not a simple mathematical calculation. There are a number of qualitative computations that come into play, and these are an exclusively Divine prerogative; see Hilchot Teshuvah 3:2.)

The significance of individuality is poignantly expressed in the words of R. Zusya of Annapol, when he said of his day of judgment that he did not fear the Heavenly Judge's question as to why he had not attained the levels of the patriarchs, the prophets or even his masters; after all, who was he to compare to them? He did fear though, he said, the question of "Zusya, why were you not Zusya?"

(This does not contradict the principle that everyone must strive to have his deeds achieve the level of the deeds of the patriarchs (Eliyahu Rabba, ch. 25); for just as the patriarchs did their best to live up to their obligations and potential, so can and must every individual.)