One Life

Artwork by Elhanan ben-Avraham

“Anyone who saves one life is as if he saved an entire world.” – Talmud, Sanhedrin 4:5*

According to the Torah Adam was one life, one whose decision affected the entire world that came after him, unto this day. Abraham too was one life, whose choice to believe YHVH greatly impacted all generations after him.  The same may be said of Noah and Moses and King David and Paul of Tarsus. It seems that when our Creator would affect change in human history, he does so through one human life.

But how is it that the one life of Yeshua, the Jew from Nazareth who lived and died in Jerusalem nearly two thousand years ago, can personally affect our lives today? That Jew of the nation chosen to bring the Word of YHVH to the world, went voluntarily to the cruel Roman cross for one life only – mine. And yours, for he is Everyman, the image of God undefiled, and thus in him every man may see himself- his better self- unstained of selfishness and corrupting deeds. His is the one human life that predates all human lives that are “created in the image of God,” and by which all individual human lives may be measured. It is in that one divine act of complete altruism and forgiveness that we are given his pure life in exchange for our own that has been soiled by arrogance, pride, deceit, error, and polluted deeds in a darkened world of influences baptized in sin.

But there were other lives that were not so benign- Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Muhammad – whose influences have brought much pain and tragedy to humanity. If you had been alive in the 7th century AD Middle East, and you ventured upon a camel train led by a young searching man named Muhammad, and you took the risk to speak with and convince him of the power of the Jew Yeshua to heal and change hatred into love, might you have altered the future history of humanity for the better? And who knows what our efforts with any one individual person may ultimately produce in the future of humanity?

Each of us has been granted one life with which to express the various talents and abilities graced upon us, in order to then touch others living their own one life, hopefully for the better, as we are granted free will to choose between “life and death, the blessing and the curse.” (Deuteronomy 30:1-20) And we are instructed there to “choose life.”

*”It was for this reason that man was first created as one person [Adam], to teach you that anyone who destroys one life is considered by Scripture to have destroyed an entire world; and anyone who saves one life is as if he saved an entire world” – Sanhedrin 4:5.

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Elhanan ben-Avraham, born in 1945, is a professional artist, poet, writer and father of two, grandfather of four, living in Israel since 1979. He has served in the IDF, taught the Bible internationally, published five illustrated books of poetry, painted two large Biblical murals in public buildings in Jerusalem, and most recently produced THE JERUSALEM ILLUSTRATED BIBLE, among many other works. He and his wife live in a quiet village in the Mountains of Judah.