When I was a teenager, I used to take art lessons once a week at a private studio. I'd only complete a few pieces in a given year; a couple hours once a week wasn't very much time to finish anything. One of my projects was a ceramic plate. Over a few weeks, I carefully formed it from clay— freely, with my hands, and I fashioned a delicate hamsa (figure of a hand that appears as a common motif in Middle Eastern art) out of softer clay on the plate's surface.

I was defeated After it hardened in the kiln and cooled off over a period of several days, I painted each element with different colors of glaze, making sure the colors went well with each other, wiping away the paint and redoing it over and over until it was perfect.

I had to wait a couple of weeks to get my piece fired the second time to turn the paint glaze into a glossy finish. The week it was supposed to be ready to take home, I arrived excited to class, ready to see my final product. I sat in my seat, waiting impatiently. I watched as the other people in the class got their pieces back, and my neck became tired from turning my head towards the firing room so many times. Finally, my teacher brought out what looked like my plate. Smiling, proud, she approached my workspace. Just before she reached the table, she lost her balance and, in slow motion, I watched the masterpiece I never got to unveil crash to the cold, hard tile, so unyielding and unforgiving.

Cringing, I looked at the floor, now covered in pieces of what used to be my plate. I tried not to show my disappointment to my teacher, who already felt terrible for her mistake. Forcing a smile and holding back tears, I assured her I'd figure out something to do with the pieces. I picked a shard up off the floor. What was it? Could it be a fingertip? Or maybe a piece of a palm? One of the abstract designs in the background? I couldn't make it out. One piece alone might as well have been nothing. I was defeated.

What we observe, we see as isolated and disconnectedI started to collect the rest of the pieces from the floor to throw away. I placed them all on the table ready to push them into the open, hungry, taunting garbage can. As the first of the pieces hit the bowels of the can with a resounding thud, I noticed that a thin blue line on one of the pieces seemed to flow into a thin blue line on the piece next to it. I picked one piece up with one hand, the next with the other. I held my hands up and brought the two pieces together. Though barely separated by a thin, jagged shadow where they'd been broken apart, they were a perfect fit.

I had made up my mind. I grabbed the discarded pieces out of the garbage can, and I began to reconstruct my new puzzle, gluing piece by piece. By the end of the class, I had a new masterpiece. A well-loved, painfully delicate, perfectly imperfect masterpiece. It wasn't a mistake anymore. It was art. It was whole.

Most of us tend to miss the forest for the trees. What we observe, we see as isolated and disconnected. Instead of hearing a song in the noise around us, we hear a series of clangs and screams and vibrations. Instead of seeing a dance, we see a kick, a turn of the head, and a raised arm. The thing is, a kick is just a kick, and a clang is just a clang. A hand doesn't do much good if there's no arm to extend it, and the arm is useless if there are no legs to walk it. Nothing in this world can function on its own. Alone, every single thing in existence is nothing. And yet, if any one morsel of this universe were missing, our world, too, would be nothing.

It takes first being broken to realize what the whole is Everything, be it a ceramic shard, a bang on a drum, the palm of a hand, or a human being, is one part of a whole. Sometimes, it takes first being broken to realize what the whole entity is. For the hamsa plate to become complete, it had to first crack into pieces. It hurts when you scrape your knee; suddenly, you're missing a part of it. The heart aches and yearns for years before you find the other half of your soul, which you previously thought to be its own entity.

This is the way of the One who created us not only in His image, but with a spark of Him within us. He created a world in which everything seems discombobulated and solitary deliberately so that we can be the ones to reveal the oneness in it all. He breaks us so that we can glue ourselves back together. Our seemingly unfinished world exists for the sole (and soul) purpose that we should reveal the G‑dliness in us by becoming creators ourselves, unveiling the hidden connections between every atom in Creation.

Atonement, too, is about revealing Oneness. The ultimate atonement is to recreate ourselves as beings conscious of the fact that we are all one with each other and with G‑d, conscious that we are simultaneously nothing and everything.

May we blessed with help from Above, that we should all be able to rectify ourselves and be the ones to reveal that we are all broken shards of the same masterpiece.