Who is the most important person? Perhaps it is the unidentified man in this week’s torah portion, Vayeshev (see Genesis 37:15). Joseph is in search of his brothers who are tending to their flocks. Joseph was told by his father they were in Shechem, but when he arrives, they are not to be found.
A man (unidentified) comes to Joseph as he is wandering about and asks who he is looking for. When Joseph replies that he needs to find his brothers and had this man seen them, the stranger says, “They have gone from here, for I heard them say: Let us go to Dothan.”
Had this man not directed Joseph to the correct location, Joseph would have returned to his home, unable to complete his mission. And the rest of Jewish history would have been entirely different!
Joseph would not be sold into slavery. He would not become second to Pharoah. His family would not have come to Egypt in search of food. And remained in Egypt living the good life in Goshen. And been eventually enslaved. And freed by Moses. And. And….
It doesn’t take much to change history or have an impact on another’s life. Giving someone good (or even incorrect) directions. A gentle criticism. A timely smile. A supportive shoulder. A caring phone call.
Our rabbis tell us not to believe that fulfilling a big mitzvah will get us a bigger reward than for fulfilling a less significant mitzvah. We don’t know this to be true. And therefore, every act we do, big or small, is important.
Even something as simple as pointing and saying, “They went that-a-way.”