Comedy has always been something I have loved. My mom never could understand how anyone could laugh so hard while reading the Sunday comics. And still to this day I love listening or watching stand-up comedians. Robin Williams, Steve Martin, Steven Wright, Jim Gaffigan, Gabriel Iglesias, Brian Regan… the list can go on and on.
One of my newest “favorite” comedians is Mike Birbiglia. In addition to performing on several specials, he has written a few shows (he will be performing his next one at the Mark Taper Forum next month), and he has a podcast called “Working It Out.” On this podcast he interviews and talks with famous people. While I was walking my dog recently, I listened to one where he was talking with Michael J. Fox. They were discussing his career and how his life has changed since he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. During their conversation, Fox told Birbiglia that one of the greatest lessons he has learned from having Parkinson’s disease was patience, but also the power that one person has to make a difference. And Fox has done that ever since he established his Michael J. Fox Foundation For Parkinson’s Research. As of June 2022, his foundation has funded $1.5 billion in research.
Since I heard him talk about this, I have been thinking about it a lot especially with what we are seeing taking place all around us – from Putin’s attack on Ukraine to the Capitol insurrection, the mass shooting epidemic and so much more. And I have also been thinking about a powerful verse from our tradition that is similar. In Deuteronomy 30:19, we find the following words G-d spoke to Moses and instructed him to share with the Israelites, “I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life…” In my mind, the similarities are striking… we have the power as individuals to either make the world a better place or make the world a worse place. The power is within us and it is a choice we need to make. And as Peter Parker’s (Spiderman) uncle famously shared with him, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”
Every single one of us has the power to make a difference in this world. It is up to us to decide how we are going to use that power – whether we are going to use it for harm or for good.
This brings me to an opportunity to use your power for good. At the end of this week’s eBlast, you will see information from a community member who is looking for a stem-cell match. Although you may not personally be eligible, by sharing this information with anyone you know who is eligible, you can use your power for good to help a fellow community member. As it says in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 37a) “Whoever saves a single life is considered to have saved the whole world.”