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 Many of you are aware, as I have previously written in another blog, I have just completed writing a book of stories that will be published in the next few months. The Torah teaches us that our great teacher Moshe, even after writing the Torah, had ‘ink left in his quill.’ I do not, God forbid, pretend to resemble Moshe in any meaningful way, but I also have some stories left over that will not appear in the book. Nevertheless, I feel that this following story may prove to be of value and insight even though it is written with ‘ink left over in the quill.’

Stories usually carry with them great moral messages and life lessons if they are correctly understood and interpreted. I have always been an avid listener to stories, and I have benefited greatly from their teachings and moral direction. Stories teach in a gentle and even indirect fashion, and to be a very high form of educational technique and methodology. And many stories have the advantage of being memorable and thus remain in our memory bank and are much more accessible oftentimes than hard lessons taught directly.
The moral lessons of stories seep into our personalities and viewpoints and are an enormous aid in the development of our intellect and spiritual growth. In utter simplicity, one can say that the entire narrative, of the holy books of the Bible, is told to us in the fashion and style of stories so that we will be able to correctly absorb and assess the eternal lessons meant to be conveyed from God, so to speak, to human beings.
An example of the value of a story is: Goethe and Beethoven were taking a walk together when they were confronted by Archdukes dressed in all their regalia and finery. Goethe motioned to Beethoven that they should move off the path and stand at the side of the road and bow in respect to these two noblemen, allowing them to pass before them on the garden path. Beethoven apparently did not hear what was said to him or purposely ignored the message and kept on walking straight down the path. When he came face-to-face with the two noblemen, they recognized him and realized that here was one of the immortal and great musical geniuses of Germany, in fact of all-time, standing before them. The nobleman separated and stood at the side of the path while Beethoven marched on his way seemingly oblivious to them. A few minutes later Goethe caught up to Beethoven and inquired of him as to what the source of his courage was that enabled him to continue walking between the noblemen without any signs of fear, respect or trepidation, causing them to make way for him on the garden path. Beethoven replied simply: “There are thousands of them but there are only two of us.”
How much wisdom and intellectual astuteness lies in that comment! The measure of human beings is never by quantity or numbers. There is no doubt that in the eyes of the posterity of human civilization, Goethe and Beethoven more than balance the importance of thousands of flamboyant Archdukes.
The Torah emphasizes this point many times, especially regarding the Jewish people and the relatively small population that Jews would constitute over all the ages of humanity. The Torah specifically tells us that Jewish people are special not because of the numbers, for in fact they are rather small and few considering the billions of human beings that inhabit our planet. Nevertheless, it is the uniqueness of human beings and not their numbers that determine their true worth and value and therefore grant selective immortality to the few – ‘there are only two of us’ – rather than the many – ‘there are thousands of them.’ Every person needs to see one's self as an important individual, someone unique and special and incomparable as well.
Science eventually may be able to clone physical characteristics and even body parts and skeletons, but the secret of personalities and creativity remains locked within each individual and cannot be copied or duplicated. All honors, titles and awards granted by humans to humans are but temporary blips on the radar screen of human civilization. What a person accomplishes by himself or herself, by the uniqueness of one's own personality and talents, industry and efforts, is what is really lasting and remains the legacy that human beings truly achieve. It is comforting and heartening to know that there are only two of us though there may be thousands of them.
Shabbat shalom
 Berel Wein

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