I got a shock in my kitchen the other day – no not something traumatic that happened but a literal shock. I was unplugging my mixer and I guess my hands were wet and I got a real shock! It was the first time that has ever happened to me. It was very brief and then it was over. But it was intense. And it got me thinking about the power of the little things, about what could be done in a moment.

Obviously, God forbid, dangerous and painful experiences could occur in a moment. We won’t rehearse those. Thoughtless actions and hurtful words can occur in a moment. We won’t rehearse those either, although it’s important to keep that in mind.

But small, meaningful actions can also occur in a moment. In a moment we can offer a smile to a stranger. Or to a friend who really needs it. In a moment we can pick up the phone or send an email to a lonely acquaintance. In a moment we can help our elderly neighbor with her groceries (okay that might take a few moments) or invite her over for Shabbos dinner. In a moment we can lift our children’s spirits with a kind word, make our husbands feel glad they walked in the door with our kind welcome.

I’ll never forget the girl in high school with the smile. She was older than me. I never knew her name. But she gave me a friendly smile every day when we passed in the halls and in that moment lifted me out of my adolescent funk. I will always be grateful to her.

In a moment we can drop off dinner at the home of a friend who is overwhelmed with her life (I didn’t say the prep was only a moment). In a moment we can poke our head in the hospital room of a sick acquaintance just to say hi. In a moment we can ask our child about his or her day and concentrate on their response.

Moments are powerful. We can accomplish a lot in a moment. And we can waste them. What are our days made up of if not a progression of moments? In the musical “Hello Dolly” (you may think I’m dating myself but it’s actually having a revival on Broadway!) there is a love song, “It Only Takes a Moment”. While that philosophy may not actually be the Jewish way, we can borrow the idea. We can use the theme.

So much good can be done in only a moment. We don’t need to wait until we have the “time” to take on a big project, until our children are grown, until this busy phase at work is over – not for the little but no less significant actions.

In our busy, harried lives, we may tell ourselves that we barely have time to breathe (some days that rings true!) and so we ignore these opportunities. But if we tell ourselves that “It Only Takes a Moment” (with apologies or gratitude to Jerry Herman) who knows what we could accomplish? Who knows how many people we could cheer up, how many lives we could lift, what a difference we could make?

I’m grateful that I was shocked (sorry, couldn’t resist) out of my complacency and can now fully appreciate the power (sorry again) of a single moment.