Many of the new technologies recently developed in communications, agriculture and biotech raise some troubling ethical and sociological issues, and sometimes generate intense public controversy. One such field, nanotechnology, is generally unknown to the public, but has the potential to have a deep and irrevocable impact on humanity.

Nanotechnology is the study of how to manipulate objects a molecular level, with compounds the size of a nanometer – a billionth of a meter. The applications are endless – from tiny robots sent through the bloodstream to fight infections and tumors, to microscopic sensors and supercomputers that can function under extreme circumstances.

Very few understand the potential as well as the dangers of this new technology. The drastically reduced size of these particles makes it possible for them to escape their intended target within the body and do damage to healthy cells and organs. The possible environmental harm of these nano particles also cannot be underestimated, as they can become airborne and travel anywhere on the planet, with unforeseen effects.

In the spiritual world, we have the concept that small acts, slight nuances that most people pay no attention to, can have outsized effects. The results of our deeds can be far removed, in both time and space, from the original, unnoticed act.

For example, one kind word can build someone up and give them the courage and strength to get through the day. A friendly smile, a short telephone conversation or a message in the right time can erase the heartache of loneliness and pain, and can be the start of a healthy growth process towards productivity and independence. On the other hand, an angry look, an accusing word, criticism, a sour face or a joke at someone else’s expense can tear down someone’s defenses and destroy their world.

What’s the lesson of nanotechnology? Pay attention to the small things. The more insignificant they seem – the more important it is to slow down and consider their effects. The third Holy Temple will be rebuilt through the accumulation of many tiny bricks – its spiritual foundation is our “tiny” acts, our small expressions of kindness, compassion, understanding, patience and joy. We have the keys in our hands to restore the Holy Temple and bring about the ultimate Redemption, when G-d will “shine His face upon us and be gracious to us,” and will “raise His countenance towards us and grant us peace.”