We are beginning to understand the power in small things.

Large, cumbersome computers are now extinct; we are moving toward the smallest of microchips. Supersized Slurpees and long buffet lines are frowned upon; smaller portions of food and tiny tequila shots of wheatgrass are now the order of the day. We are recognizing the impact of small acts of kindness on those we love. We are grasping that small steps toward a goal are often more productive than large ones. The power of “small” is unfolding in our personal and collective lives. We are beginning to understand the power of small things

Judaism has always recognized “small”’s dynamic influence. In Jewish thought, “small” is connected to the quality of humility. Humility is the conduit for true greatness in our tradition: G‑d’s chosen people were the smallest of nations. G‑d chose Mount Sinai, a small, “humble” mountain, as the birthplace for our people. Our outstanding leader Moses’ greatest attribute was his “small” ego, his unpretentiousness.

And then there is the yud. Of all 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, the yud is the smallest. Despite its stature, Rav Dov Ber Pinson notes that the yud is the bedrock of the alphabet—its form is the beginning point of all the letters.

Sefer Yetzirah, a Kabbalistic text, accords each month of the Jewish calendar a corresponding Hebrew letter. The letter that corresponds with the month of Elul is the humble yud.

The month of Elul is a time of introspection and repentance. In Elul we are charged with examining the events of the past year and gleaning the lessons they have taught us. Sometimes this is a gentle process. But when dealing with more painful aspects of the past year, placing ourselves under the microscope does not always feel so gentle. Is there an antidote to this challenge? When we combine the contemplation of Elul with the knowing energy of yud, we create an atmosphere of enhanced self-awareness, gratitude and growth. As a result, perhaps soul-searching can become more manageable.

Let us take a closer look at the self-effacing letter yud.

According to Rav Pinson, the yud, which looks like a point, is the source of wisdom and goodness in every life experience. That’s right, this demure letter holds tremendous power and healing.

In Jewish thought, the letters in a name represent qualities or energies the possessor of the name has. In Hebrew, one of the names of G‑d starts with a yud. The names of the Jewish people also begin with yud: We are called the children of Yisrael (Israel), the kingdom of Yehudah (Judah), the house of Yaakov (Jacob), the house of Yosef (Joseph). We understand that the divine is the only true goodness and wisdom in the world, but the simple Yid (Jew)? Yes. We too have access to these powers. When we make use of our personal, inner yud, we can be our own source of wisdom and goodness in every life experience. How do we connect and tap into our “inner yud”? Look back at the past year . . .

The kids were whining, screaming, wrestling in the back seat of the car. You were sweaty and agitated and volcanic. You could have reacted, you could have blown up . . . but remember? You breathed, you said your mantras, you internalized their messages . . . and you didn’t blow up! No one applauded, no one acknowledged this feat of transcendence. But now you can.

How could you forgive her? Your mother wasn’t there for you, and then, after all those years, she wanted a connection? How could you trust a real relationship with her? The fact that you were even willing to try was miraculous. You moved toward forgiveness and letting go, even when it hurt. . . . You worked on yourself this year, coming closer toward a new relationship. Your inner yud was working overtime, and you probably didn’t even know it.

Your husband was still in the midst of his midlife crisis. No matter what you said or how you said it, there was “no one home.” He was marching to the beat of his own drum this year, and you couldn’t change his rhythm. After years of marriage, you deeply understood that this would be a year of surrendering and acceptance. Eventually he would have to find his own inner wisdom, but you had already found yours: we are not in control of others, even the ones we love.

When we grasp that both the pain and the joy of the past year helped us grow and expand, we are seizing our inner yud. When we had patience at a time of discontent, when we flourished despite falling, when we accepted and accommodated, we followed our inner wisdom.

And what about the times when we remained agitated, broken and destructive? We are not in control of others, even the ones we loveWhen we blew up, remained detached, gave up, gave in? What happened to the inner yud? Well, if we start now, forgive ourselves, reevaluate and commit to do differently next time, then we are absolutely working that inner yud.

As with any genuine process, the results of this soul-accounting will not always be streamlined and packaged perfectly. We may have to confront contradictions that lie within us and our choices. That is natural; we are human. But in doing so, we may learn about ourselves and our desires, forging a gateway to our true essence. We will perceive points of goodness where we once saw only confusion. Amazing how out of such “small” and humble analysis comes such great truth and depth.

Elul’s arrival signals a time for contemplation and reflection. As this month aligns itself with the energy of the yud, may we truly harness our divine intelligence and understand how to accept, change and trust our choices. May we see the good in others, may we see the good in ourselves, and may we embrace the bigness of that small but all-important point within.