Norman Borlaug was a biologist and agricultural scientist who is credited with saving millions of lives through his work in developing special wheat varieties.

In the 1940s, Borlaug began working in Mexico as part of a program to improve wheat yields and help feed the country’s growing population. Borlaug and his team were eventually able to develop high-yield, disease-resistant varieties that could grow in assorted conditions. These varieties were then introduced to farmers in other parts of the world, including India and Pakistan, where they helped transform agriculture and improve food security.

Borlaug’s work is credited with helping to prevent famines in several countries and is estimated to have saved millions of lives. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his contributions to global food security. In a 1997 article in The Atlantic, “Forgotten Benefactor of Humanity,” Gregg Easterbrook claims that the “form of agriculture that Borlaug preaches may have prevented a billion deaths.”

It’s not every day that what began as a small experiment in a forgotten field somewhere will yield results that eventually save a billion lives. But it is every day that the small things we do, the people we touch, have an outsized impact—far more than we often know.

“He Shall Gather the Lost of Israel

In the haftarah read on the final day of Passover, the prophet Isaiah speaks glowingly of the future Redemption. One of the events he describes is the Ingathering of Exiles—that moment when G‑d will return every Jew to the land of Israel:

And it shall come to pass that on that day, G‑d shall . . . acquire the rest of His people, that will remain from Assyria and from Egypt . . . And He shall gather the lost of Israel, and the scattered ones of Judah He shall gather from the four corners of the earth.1

It’s an exciting prospect. Imagine: every Jew, no matter where they live, no matter how remote or disconnected, will be whooshed away in a flash and brought to the Messianic utopia. How incredible will that be!

But what does that have to do with me and you right now? What will happen in the future is lovely, but what are we to make of that today, in New York, Johannesburg, Malmo, and Lima?

No Jew Left Behind

Here’s a thought: If you pause and think about this idea for even half a second, it’s quite odd. Why, after all, would G‑d bother to gather every single Jew? In another verse, Isaiah movingly describes how, “You shall be gathered one by one, O children of Israel”—as if G‑d will sweep the globe and personally pluck out every last member of the tribe. But why? What would be so bad if Moshe in the Appalachian Mountains or Naomi in Patagonia were left behind?

The simple answer is: Yes! It would be terrible. In G‑d’s eyes, every single Jewish person is integral to the redemptive process. If it’s not literally every member, Redemption cannot and will not take place. It’s as simple as that.

“I will handpick each of you, one by one, and bring you back home” sends forth a dramatic message: you matter. Regardless of how trivial, insignificant, or remote you may think you are, you still matter. When the day of our nation’s long-awaited Redemption arrives, the entire process will hang in the balance until G‑d knocks on your cabin, plucks you out and brings you back to the Promised Land.

You Matter Too Much to Be Left Behind

The message of the Ingathering of Exiles, for all of us, right here and right now, is that we matter, and very much so. You may think you’re on a remote island and whatever you do has no consequence, but G‑d begs to differ.

Remember the prophet’s clarion call: “You shall be gathered one by one, O children of Israel.” That includes you. Yes, tiny little you. Everyone else in the world will have to wait until you’re ready to come along. And then, you’ll wait for the next person.

Go ahead and feel good about yourself, good about the fact that G‑d is ready to put the entire project on hold until you’re on board. And then go and spread the word.

Do you know another Jew living nearby? Do you have a Jewish friend who also thinks they’re the only one on their hilltop, island, or neighborhood? Let them know that they’re special in G‑d’s eye, and that the future Redemption will come only when they sign up.

And while we’re at it, why not sign them up now? Tell them about a mitzvah, a unique opportunity to connect with the G‑d Who believes in them so much. Offer them the chance to study a Torah idea, to put on tefillin, to make a blessing over food, to light Shabbat candles, to pray. Any of the above is a gateway, a thread that connects us with G‑d Who bestows each of us with meaning, purpose, and endless value.

The future Redemption knocks at our door every day. And it’s telling me, you, and everyone else, “You’re too important to be left behind.”