The other day my eight year old son came home and declared: "My teacher said I need to buy a new Chumash (a volume of one of the Five Books of Moses) 'cuz mine's all ripped up." After a trip to my son's classroom, I found that indeed the two pages he was learning that week were badly torn, but not beyond repair. Armed with heavy duty packing tape, I spent twenty minutes that day fixing the tattered and worn pages and the broken binding. The book was as good as new.

Sometimes we are quick to throw things out because they are broken or simply too much trouble to fix. Sometimes people are treated this way as well.

We are quick to throw things out Ever since my son was in pre-school, he was red-flagged for various issues, including problems with fine-motor skills and frustration tolerance. A professional evaluation revealed he had dyspraxia, a neurological disorder of motor coordination that manifests as difficulty in many ways. It was a tough diagnosis that we had to untangle one issue at a time. Our son spent a couple of years in physical therapy, eye therapy and play therapy. As the therapies continued, thank G‑d, he improved academically, socially and emotionally. But like his battered book, he was still a bit broken—but not beyond repair. Like his well-worn Chumash, my son needed someone who would care and take the time to carefully fix the broken parts.

By the time he reached second grade, the principal and teachers were pleased that he had progressed, but dismayed he still wasn't up to par with his peers. I heard comments such as: "He is just not like the other boys," or "His behavior is just not normal" and "Perhaps he should go to another school." Mind you, my son was evaluated by the State and found capable of learning. He required no special educational services. He just needed someone who could tune into his specific learning style.

Our Torah tells the story of Moses and his huge flock of sheep. One source relates that Moses shepherded a heard of sheep in the hundreds of thousands. Yet one day, the Midrash relates, one thirsty little sheep escaped his watchful eye and ran off in search of water. Moshe sought him out and, after making sure he'd satisfied his thirst, carried him back to the flock. Moses' attention and care for even the smallest and neediest of his flock revealed a true leadership quality that endeared him to G‑d, who later chose him to lead the Jewish people.

Few teachers go out of their way to help in the manner of Moses; and when they do, they make an impression. For my son, there was one teacher who stands out. He was a new teacher, fresh out of rabbinical school and trying his hand at education. The young man became my son's resource room teacher for a year. Before the school year even began, this young tutor spent the summer interviewing every resource room /special education teacher of note in our town, gleaning tricks and tips of the trade.

He worked tirelessly trying to reach him While he had my son only twenty minutes a day, he worked tirelessly trying to reach him. He often called me to find out which motivational tools worked. Reading was a chore for my son though he has no problem memorizing entire sections from the prayer book and Chumash and reciting them, rapid-fire, on demand. His teachers would let him get away with this year after year. But this new teacher, under the guidance of a discerning principal, realized my son would not succeed unless he could read with fluency and accuracy. This new teacher kept trying new methods to motivate his young charge. While my son is not dyslexic, the young teacher found that a method used for dyslexia helped. Separating the words of the prayer book into six readable words in six separate boxes on a page was the turning point towards reading success. It sounds like an easy solution, but for the new teacher it meant a lot of work. Firstly, the prayer book used in our school is not available online. The teacher had to download a prayer book of a different style and change the order and vocalization of each word. Then he had to reformat the words onto a page with six clear, bold boxes. He did this for all of the morning blessings and many of the main parts of prayer. The day just before Passover, the young teacher took time out of his busy day and knocked at our door bearing a simple binder in hand. The binder contained my son's completed prayer book and an abridged Haggadah with the Four-Questions, all painstakingly formatted in a fashion for easy reading. That Passover my son prayed perfectly, one word at a time.

Tikkun olam, the popular Jewish concept often associated with large scale projects such as saving the world, literally means "to repair the world." In reality tikkun olam has little to do with the big stuff and much to do with "sweating the small stuff." For me, fixing the world is all about saving the world on a small scale: one sheep at a time, one page at a time, one person at a time.

Nothing is beyond repair; an old book need not be relegated to the garbage heap because it is worn and torn; a needy child need not be sent to another school because he requires a little extra attention. Even a thirsty sheep deserves our attention. In fact, the little sheep that Moses ran to help ended up leading Moses to the burning bush and, ultimately, to G‑d's revelation. [By the way, this teaching experience led my son's resource room teacher to pursue a career in education and he is now enrolled in a program to earn a Master's in Special Education.] Every broken thing is worthy of our care and attention. Everything is worth fixing—one page at a time, one soul at a time.