One of the most powerful inventions of the past half-century is the laser beam. The basic purpose of a laser is to focus the energy of a beam of light. Usually, when rays of light are projected over a distance as a source of light or heat, the intensity of light dissipates as it gets farther from its source.
To overcome this limitation, a laser beam is narrowly confined so it does not spread to the sides. It is thus completely focused in one direction only, maintaining its strength even at great distances from its source. In fact, it can even make a hole through a metal barrier several inches thick at a distance of several miles.
Lasers are now used in numerous technologies, from dental drills to CD drives to household tools. Lasers are also widely used in surgery. Laser technology has allowed surgeons to develop many new techniques to reduce injury to tissues and shorten the healing time for incisions.
The lesson in divine service that we can learn from a laser is this: If you want to influence others, the way to do it is by staying focused in one direction only. Only in this way can one maintain full strength.
There is no need for one person to spread out all over and try to have an effect everywhere. Each person has a unique role for which they are most suited. When each person focuses on their own areas of achievement, they will be successful. Specifically, the path of Torah and mitzvot provides us with a goal and direction, and ensures that the efforts of all the Jewish people will be coordinated and effective. As the Talmud says (Sotah 38b), the divine service of a Jew is so powerful that "even an iron curtain cannot separate Jews from their father in heaven." This strength can then be transmitted to others as well.
A Jewish youth should be a living personal example of adding a candle to the light of Judaism every day, with continued spiritual growth. When his life serves as a proper example, his words are effective, even greater than the effects of a philanthropist or community activist.
G-d is aware of our limitations, and demands from us only in accordance with our capabilities. He gives us challenges only according to what we can handle. When we focus our energies like a laser, we have the tools in hand to repair the breaches of exile and hasten the revelation of Moshiach, may it happen immediately.
(Based on an address of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Sichot Kodesh 5730)
Prof. Yirmiyahu Branover is chairman of the Center of Magnetohydrodynamic Studies and Training at Ben-Gurion University