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Shavuos 7:8 – 8:1-2
Berachos 46

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Pirkei Avos S3 4:8

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Pirkei Avos S3 4:7
Erev Shabbos Yisro
Tuesday Parshas Yisro
Tuesday Parshas Bo
Emuna
Mishpatim – Tuesday
Shavuos 7:6-7
Shavuos 7:4-5
Brochos 45
Yisro: The Tenth commandment
Only Hashem
Mishpatim – Monday
Brochos 44
Brochos 43
Mishpatim – Sunday
Berachos 45
Berachos 44

United We Stand Yisro 7 (6)

Yisro
Berachos 43
Berachos 42
Beshalach
Brochos 42
Yitro – Friday
Parshas Yisro 5780
Yisro
Yitro – shiur
Rabbi Raizman Daf Thought daf 12
Rabbi Raizman Daf Thought daf 11
Rabbi Raizman Daf Thought daf 10
Rabbi Raizman Daf Thought daf 9
Rabbi Raizman Daf Thought daf 8

 

Rabbi Raizman Daf Thought daf 7
Rabbi Raizman Daf Thought daf6
Rabbi Raizman Daf Though daf5
Shavuos 7:1-3
Berachos 41
Yisro
Brochos 41
Shavuos 6:6-7
Shavuos 6:4-5
Berachos 40
Brochos 40
Yitro – Wednesday
Brochos 39
Berachos 39
Yitro – Tuesday
Shavuos 6:2-3
Brochos 38
Brochos 37
Brochos 36
Brochos 35
Parshas Beshalach 5780
Berachos 38
Yitro- Monday
Berachos 37
Shavous 5:5 – 6:1
Yitro – Sunday
Berachos 36
Berachos 35
Beshalach – Friday
Shavuos 5:3-4
daf 4
daf 3
Beshalach – chabura
Daf 2
Daf thought #1
Beshalach 5780 – Nesivos Shalom
Beshalach
Brochos 34
Brochos 33
Beshalach
Berachos 34

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Lubavitcher Was Moshiach

Q:
If our generation is the עקבתא דמשיחא, the generation of the footsteps of Moshiach, why should our generation be the lowest of all generations?
A:
Now, I don’t know if this is the generation of עקבתא דמשיחא, that I can’t tell you, but let’s say it is. The answer is — you know what it says:  כי יראה כי אזלת יד — When Hakodosh Boruch Hu will see that all the power is gone from us, ואפס עצור ועזוב, that there is nothing left, ואמר אי אלקימו, and we will see there is nobody to help us, so that’s when Hakodosh Boruch Hu will come to help.

That’s what the Chofetz Chaim said; he said, “Please Ribono Shel Olam. It’s getting late and we’re going lost.” He said, “Please come quickly and help us.” That’s a reason why Moshiach should come — just because we’re the lowest of all generations. Of course, it would much better if Moshiach should come because we’re so good. However, nobody knows what can happen yet — don’t be so sure that this is the end; it can chalilah get much worse.
I want to tell you a word from the old Lubavitcher Rebbe — I’m not a Lubavitcher, but the old Lubavitcher Rebbe said something. In his time, they published a newspaper called הקריאה והקדושה — it was the old Lubavitcher Rebbe. And there was a certain year when they said Moshiach is going to come this year. He put himself out on a limb. “Moshiach will come this year,” he said. It was years ago – the old Rebbe, not this one. And the Lubavitcher? They were organizing, making pronouncements: “This year! This year!” Everyone else was ridiculing it.

And the year passed by and nothing happened. So I offered him a consolation; my little cheap consolation I offered to them. I said, “The Lubavitcher Rebbe is right; he was right. He himself redeemed many Jews from going lost; he was a Moshiach for many Jews.”

Who says your job is to worry about the Moshiach for the whole Klal Yisroel? What about yourself? You’re living only once in this world, and your job is to be a Moshiach to rescue  at least yourself. And if somebody comes and rescues you like the old Lubavitcher Rebbe did, he’s also a Moshiach. The old Lubavitcher Rebbe founded a yeshiva in Rochester, a yeshiva in Buffalo, a yeshiva in Boston. He founded yeshivos wherever he went. In those days they didn’t have such a thing. It was before Torah U’Mesorah.

How many children, how many Jewish boys and girls was he a Moshiach for? And therefore Moshiach came; in a certain sense it came. You have to worry only about the whole Klal Yisroel?! You have to worry about each one of us! So Moshiach did come!

And therefore, although it’s a virtue: אחכה לו בכל יום שיבוא – Everybody should hope every day that Moshiach should come, but in the meantime get busy and redeem yourself. You hear that? Don’t wait. There’s a lot to accomplish.

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Lubavitcher Was Moshiach

Rav Avigdor Miller on Fear of Death 

Q:
You said tonight that death is just a change, moving from one place to another? If so, why does everybody fear death? And how should we overcome that fear?
A:
Why should we fear death? We have to fear death because that’s what we learn from Moshe Rabeinu. When Moshe Rabbeinu was told, הן קרבו ימיך למות – Your days are coming to an end, so it says: ואתחנן אל השם בעת ההיא — Moshe put up a fight, a big fight, begging Hashem that he shouldn’t die. He fought more than anybody else. Do you know why? Because more than anybody else he knew what life meant.
When you tell a person he’s going to die, so if he wants to show he’s a hero, he doesn’t get excited. He acts like a stoic — he’s willing to accept it like a hero. No, he’s not a hero – he’s a shoteh!
The Vilna Gaon passed away Chol Hamoed Sukkos. So when they brought the esrog and the lulav to him for the last time on his death bed where he was lying sick, he burst out weeping: “It’s the last time – the last time I’ll be able to bentch lulav and esrog.” He burst out weeping because he lived his life only to serve Hakodosh Boruch Hu and to do mitzvos!  That was the whole wealth of his life and now it was coming to an end!

That’s why Moshe Rabbeinu put up a fight – he didn’t want to pass away! “Look at all that I can still do!” I remember when Reb Aharon Kotler, zichrono livracha, was on his deathbed, he was weeping.  He said, “Ribono Shel Olam, let me live!  I can do so much in this world!” He wept.
People who understand the opportunity of life, they know that death is a great tragedy. ואחריתה כיום מר – The bitter day of death, a very bitter day.  It’s not bitter because you won’t eat supper anymore, or because you won’t make money anymore. People who understand the true wealth of life know that death is the great tragedy of all tragedies.
However, as soon as the time comes, as soon as he passes into the Next World, he’s so busy now seeing the ziv ha’Shechina, the splendor of the Shechina, that he forgets it all. אשבעה בהקיץ תמונותיך – He gazes into the face of Hashem and he forgets everything.  He forgets it all in the happiness of Olam Habah.
But while we’re still alive, we should keep in mind that this is the time of the greatest happiness. יפה שעה אחת – Every moment in this world is precious.

Now, how do you overcome the fear of death? Who said that you shouldn’t be afraid of death? Let people be afraid of death! But not in such a fear that they should walk around morbid and sad. No. They should be full of joy that they’re alive. That’s the greatest fear of death — you’re enjoying the wealth of opportunity of this world and you don’t want to part from that happiness.
Every minute should mean something!  You’re never bored! Anybody who is bored shows that he doesn’t know what life is. Here’s a man sitting on his porch with no place to go. It’s Sunday; “Where shall I go today?”  He’s bored!?
You’re alive!  You can go every place in the world in your mind.  You can to go to Hakodosh Boruch Hu; open a chumash, open a gemara!  So many wonderful things to think about! Think about Yetzias Mitzrayim if you want!  Think about the mann!  Think about Kriyas Yam Suf!  Think about the tzaddikim of all the doros! So many things you can think about!  The most interesting things in the world are waiting for you if you voyage with your mind.  A person who is bored, it means he has no mind. He doesn’t know what life is.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Fear of Death 

Rav Avigdor Miller on Learning to Be liked

Q:
How can a person make himself be liked by the people he meets every day?

A:
So for that you’ll have to be ready now for a two hour lecture.

First of all, don’t talk too much.

And secondly, show that you like that person – even though you don’t. It’s a mitzvah to be a good actor – Hakodosh Boruch Hu will reward you for showing that you like that person. Now, if it’s a decent person, try your best to make a hit with him. But if he’s a person of low character, so just be polite and get rid of him as fast as you can. לך מנגד מאיש כסיל – Go away from a fool. The  resha’im are fools, so don’t waste too much time on them. But if there is any hope, spend some time trying to win him over. But in either case, to everybody you have to be polite.
Now, the next thing, the third thing, is to find something that’s good in that person that you can encourage. If you say some encouraging words he will prize it all his life.
So I’ve told you so far three things. That’s an installment, maybe for some future lecture, I’ll repeat it. First of all, don’t talk much, listen. Secondly, smile – show that you like the person. Thirdly, try to encourage him in some good thing – in his parnasah, or in his family – whatever it is, try to encourage him.
Now as I said before, in case he’s not a person of good character, so as soon as possible part company with him. The less time you spend with him, the better you are.
You want some more information? Maybe in the future we’ll talk about this topic.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Learning to Be liked

Rav Avigdor Miller on Our View of Sports 

Q:
May a yeshiva bochur listen to sports on the radio?
A:
I’ll ask you a different question: May a yeshiva bochur stand on his head? Yes, if he wants to. But he’s a meshugenah if he does it.

What is sports? It’s so silly! The Yanks and the Mets hitting the baseball. It’s so meshugah. It’s an American goyishe meshugenah velt. It’s the headlines – Yanks, Mets. It’s so silly.

What sports does is the following. The headlines show us how empty the gentile world is. And therefore, we take a lesson from that. These foolish people who can make headlines from the most silly things – we have to say, “Can they be an example for us at all?! In anything?!”

ברוך אלוקינו שהבדילנו מן התועים. Boruch Hashem that He has separated us from these lost neshamos.

Q:
A lot of Jewish youth – and even adults sometimes – have an interest in playing sports and watching sports. What do you say about this phenomenon?

A:
It depends what you mean. If sports are played for the prestige of the uniform, for the prestige of being a sports player, then it’s as silly as could be. It’s a silly gentile thing. Here’s a boy, strutting down the street, in a lacrosse uniform. Did you ever see a lacrosse uniform? You don’t what it is? It’s a game that high schools and colleges play. So he’s strutting down the street in his uniform, all covered with helmets and padded things all over him, and he walks down the street like a hero. He has a halo of sanctity around him. That’s what they think. They think that sports is something noble. So this garbage we have to get out of our heads. There is nothing noble about holding a stick and smacking a baseball. There’s nothing noble about that; nothing heroic about it.

However, if it’s something done for exercise, then there’s no question – you don’t need me to tell you that exercise is important. If it’s not too strenuous, then exercise is very good.

But it would be even better if you would take a brisk walk for forty-five minutes. Not in the night time. And not on lonely streets. But a brisk walk in the fresh air is the best sport and the best exercise. And while you’re doing that, you can be thinking over all of the important ideas that a Jew should be filling his mind with. There’s no end to the thoughts that you must be filling your mind with that will prepare you for the World to Come. Whereas, if you’re banging around a ball or some other thing like that, that keeps your mind busy on small unimportant things, and the precious time is entirely wasted.

But watching sports?! That’s a one hundred percent waste of time! You should forget about all the ideals of sport and the glamour about sports. Because actually, it’s nothing at all.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Our View of Sports 

Rav Avigdor Miller on Prayer and Teshuva To Be Saved From Hitler

Q:
Why didn’t the gedolim in Europe gather all Jews together for fasting and teshuva the same way as Mordechai did when he saw a Holocaust coming?
A:
And the answer is the gedolim in Europe didn’t have any influence at all and I can testify to that. I’ll give you a mashal. I was in Slabodka which was a suburb of Kovna. Kovna was the main town of Lithuania and the Kovna Rov was the most important Torah authority in all of Lithuania. And yet, no newspaper would publish anything that he said. If he would come out with a proclamation that we should pray to Hashem, they’d all ridicule him. At most, if he would have the boldness, he could print up some leaflets and post them in some batei midrashos. But the people didn’t come to the batei midrashos anyhow — very few people came, so who would listen to him?

I’m sure that he prayed himself. I’m sure that in the Slabodka Yeshiva they prayed. I was present in Slabodka when Hitler marched into Sudetenland, and they prayed; oh, how they prayed. But outside of the yeshiva, the populace was hostile to the yeshiva boys. They despised the yeshiva boys; they called them patronet. Patronet means parasites.

And that’s because the Jewish public was in the hands of the newspapers; everybody read the newspapers. And the ewspapers were against keeping the Torah, they despised the Torah. The people were poisoned – even the shomrei Shabbos Jews were poisoned by the newspapers. So how could the Torah leaders have anything? The Agudas Yisroel had a little newspaper that came out once a month – once a month! Mizrachi had a little rag that came out once in two weeks – they had no influence at all. And therefore the rabbonim couldn’t call the Jews and summon them to do teshuva in Europe – it was out of the question.

And you think it was better in Hungary? No, it wasn’t much better there. In Hungary the Reformers were the leaders. Everywhere, the Reform rabbis were the ones who had the influence over the public and therefore it wasn’t possible. They didn’t call the people to repentance because the people didn’t want to be called —and therefore the yeshua didn’t come.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Prayer and Teshuva To Be Saved From Hitler
Shavuos 5:1-2
Berachos 33
Shavuos 4:12-13

Rav Avigdor Miller on Loving Jews

Q:
Can the Rav explain to us how we could actually learn to love all Jews?
A:
Now, first of all, I want to tell you that it’s not necessary to love all Jews. Only the shomrei mitzvos. On the non-shomrei mitzvos there is no chiyuv. ואהבת לרעך כמוך – “You should love your fellow.” And the gemara explains it means רעך במצוות – your fellow in doing mitzvos. If it is a fellow Jew, a rei’acha b’mitzvos, then you have a chiyuv di’oraisa to learn to love him.

Now, how do you do it? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you an eitzah that I heard from a great man. To just say, “I love everyone,” is nothing. That’s what the liberals say. They love everyone. But really they love nobody. Everything is nothing! You can’t just say, “I love everybody,” all of a sudden. It means nothing.

You must choose one Jew. Don’t tell him, but choose one person and say, “I’m going to love that Jew.” Say it. And think about him constantly. Think about him positively as much as you can.  Think about his good traits and ingrain them into your mind. And little by little you’re going to come to love him. He shouldn’t know about it, but you should love him dearly. Don’t say a word to him. And after a while you’ll see that you really love him.

Then choose another person. And do the same thing. And little by little you’ll have a few people that you really love. And that’s going to be your model to help you go further and further. But you must do it. You must start. People have never even attempted it.

You must know that loving the Am Yisroel is Hakodosh Boruch Hu’s favorite subject. Moshe Rabeinu became great only because he was an oheiv Yisroel. ויצא אל אחיו וירא בסבלותם – Moshe went out to see the sufferings his fellow Jews (Shemos 2:11). “Oh,” said Hakodosh Boruch Hu, “That’s the man I’m looking for.” Moshe Rabeinu became great just because of that.

אין הקדוש ברוך הוא אוהב אלא למי שאוהב את ישראל – “Hashem loves only those who love the Am Yisroel” (Mesillas Yesharim – Perek 19). The frum Jewish people love Hashem. And when you love them, then Hashem loves you. וכל מה שאדם מגדיל אהבתו לישראל הקדוש ברוך הוא מגדיל עליו – “And the more you love the frum Jews, the more Hashem loves you (ibid.)

Concentrate on this. Start with one person and little by little you’ll be surprised. You’ll get good results. If you never try, you’ll never move. You’ll never budge. All your life you’ll stand still and never do this mitzvah at all.

Can the Rav explain to us how we could actually learn to love all Jews
Beshalach – Wednesday
Brochos 32
Berachos 32
Beshalach – Tuesday
Brochos Daf 31
Berachos 31
Beshalach – Monday
Berachos 30
Shavuos 4:9-11
Shabbos speech Parshas Bo 5780
Beshalach – Sunday
Brochos 30
Brochos 29
Brochos 28
Brochos 27
Berachos 29

 

Berachos 28
Bo – Friday
bo 5780 – Nesivos Shalom
Bo
Bo – chabura
Shavuos 4:7-8
Bo
Shavuos 4:5-6
Shavuos 4:3-4
Berachos 27
Berachos 26
Berachos 26
Brochos 26
Bo – Wednesday

Rav Avigdor Miller on Wearing a Tallis Among Gentiles 

Q:
Is it proper to walk down the avenue on Shabbos morning wearing a tallis or are we antagonizing the goyim?
A:
These questions are solved by the circumstances. If you are on Ocean Parkway and Avenue R, so it’s proper to wear a tallis. But if you are, let’s say, on King’s Highway and West 10th Street, so it’s better not to wear a tallis. Not only is it better not to, but you better not! So it depends on the circumstances – many questions can be answered by your own common sense.
Now, to be demonstrative about Judaism is a proper thing. But it must be done in a dignified way; if it’s done in a shlepperisher way, then you’re dragging the honor of Judaism through the mud. So you always have to judge what’s going to redound the credit of the Torah; and that depends on the circumstances.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Wearing a Tallis Among Gentiles 

Rav Avigdor Miller on When Antisemitism Is Not Really Amtisemitism

Q:
What can an Orthodox Jew do when attacked by gentiles with eggs and the police do nothing?
A:
So let me make a correction:  What can a human being do when attacked by gentiles? Because we are prone to make a mistake – we think that the gentiles attack only Jews.

Don’t think that gentiles don’t suffer from gentiles. I’ll tell you a little secret. The gentiles suffer more from gentiles than Jews suffer from gentiles. It’s a fact; only we pay no attention.
When you drive through parts of the city, you’ll see two people beating each other up – both are Puerto Ricans. In the Fulton Street Police Station, every night there are alarms no end – and it’s colored people either committing mayhem on other colored people or robbing them; they suffer more from their own than we suffer from them. And the Italians too! You know that the Mafia executes their relatives more than others. And that’s a rule everywhere. So don’t say that it’s just the Jews – everybody suffers!

And if the police do nothing? That means that on Halloween night, there’s only one place to be – that’s home. And when you get off the subway, don’t walk home. Take a cab; it’s worth the dollar fifty, or the two dollars to get to your door. Nobody should be out Halloween night. That’s why we canceled our halacha class Sunday night because we recommend people should stay home that night.

Rav Avigdor Miller on When Antisemitism Is Not Really Amtisemitism

Rav Avigdor Miller on Moshe Rabeinu’s Tefillah and Punishing the Nile

Q:
At the end of last week’s parsha, why did Moshe Rabbeinu say to Hashem: למה הרעתה לעם הזה – “Why have You done bad to Your nation”? How could Moshe question Hashem’s actions?

A:
How could Moshe Rabbeinu say to Hashem, “Why have you done harm to your people”?  And the answer is, that’s the way tzaddikim pray.  Big tzaddikim pray that way because they actually feel like they are discussing their problem with Someone – it’s a form of speaking to Hakodosh Boruch Hu.

Lesser people have to watch themselves to use more a moderate expressions, but Moshe Rabbeinu prayed from the bottom of his heart and he said to Hashem, “You have done harm to your people.”  Of course, he understood that in the long run, Hakodosh Boruch Hu would do only chesed, but when you really believe that you’re speaking to Hakodosh Boruch Hu – when you’re not merely rattling off words as a formality – so you speak from the bottom of your heart.

Q:
You stated that the reason why the Ribono Shel Olam punished Mitzrayim by the Nile was Pharaoh had a special admiration for the Nile and he relied on it. If I’m not mistaken, Rashi says in two places that Hakodosh Boruch Hu hit the Nile because He always punishes a nation by hitting their god. How do you reconcile these two statements?
A:
It’s exactly the same thing. The word god doesn’t have to mean somebody that they actually worship. Although it could be that they worshiped the Nile too, but the intent is that Hashem hits the one in whom they have trust, the thing they rely on. Since they trusted Nile, so they were smitten in the Nile. And the main purpose is to show that the thing they trusted – whether it’s an object or an idol — Hakodosh Boruch Hu demonstrates that it’s valueless.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Moshe Rabeinu’s Tefillah and Punishing the Nile
Berachos 25
Brochos Daf 25
Bo – Tuesday
Brochos daf 24
Brochos Daf 23
Brochos daf 22
Brochos Daf 21
Parshas VaEira 5780
Berachos 24
Bo – Monday
Vaera: Unrestrained Power
Berachos 23
Shavuos 4:1-2
Shavuos 3:9-11
Bo – Sunday
Berachos 22
Berachos 21
Shemos
Vaera – Friday

Rav Avigdor Miller on Repeating The Great Truths

Q:
What is the benefit of saying the Ani Ma’amins every day? I believe it. Why do I have to keep repeating it?
A:
The answer is that it makes a tremendous difference in a person’s emunah. Some people’s emunah is like a very thin layer of paint – you give a little scrape and the paint comes off. Some people’s emunah is thicker than that and you have to work all your life to achieve that. It’s not just a matter of repeating the foundations of truth because of some sort of a lack of emunah. It’s not just emunah that you are trying to work on – it’s da’as Hashem, Awareness of Hashem. All your life you have to become more and more aware of Hakodosh Boruch Hu. You remember when Moshe Rabeinu asked Hashem, הראיני נא את כבודיך – “Please show me your glory,” was it because he lacked emunah, chas veshalom?! No; he wanted to get closer and closer to Hashem.
And that’s why we say Ani Ma’amin; in order that each time we say it – if we say it properly – we’re making it more and more clear to ourselves. If you say it a thousand times you’re making a much deeper impression than saying it just once – even if you believed it the first time.
That’s why it is so important to repeat the same Kriyas Shema every day. And the same with all the tefillos. Every time you say it you are making it more and more deeply engrained into your mind. That’s why it’s so important to repeat the great truths over and over again. Instead of every day saying something new – No! – repeat the same things again and again, and spend your time impressing upon your neshama the great truths of the Torah.
When you repeat an idea over and over again it becomes part of your personality. The Chovos Halevavos says: המחשבה נמשכת אחר הדיבור – Your mind follows your words. Do you hear that important yesod? Your mind follows your words! Say the right words and your mind changes. The more you say the same words the more your mind becomes influenced by these words.
And therefore we say again and again “Shema Yisroel Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad.” Of course, you have to know what you are saying. Hashem means that He is the one who is havaya – He is the one who exists. He is the only one who exists. And He is mihaveh es ha’briyah – He is the one who causes the world to exist  And He is Elokeinu. He is ours. That means that He has chosen us to be His servants. And that’s why we must devote our lives to Him. And ואהבת את השם אלוקיך – you have to love Hashem.
Now, each time you say these words, you are making it more and more real to yourself. You become more and more convinced of the truth. It’s precious; it’s valuable. Don’t think it’s just a small thing – a small amount of to’eles. No, it’s a tremendous benefit each time. And therefore, each time you repeat the great truths, you are making yourself more and more of an ish shalem – a perfect person.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Repeating The Great Truths

Rav Avigdor Miller on Are The Gedolim Right About Nixon?

Q:
But isn’t possible that the Gedolimwho are advising us to support Nixon and be loyal to the President and his government are misinformed?

A:
Absolutely it could be possible. But it’s much more probable that others are misinformed, than that the Gedolim are misinformed.
A doctor could also be misinformed. The biggest specialist can make mistakes. And they do. But you’re still not going to just walk up to any boychik who passed through college and medical school – and maybe he failed and he was expelled, and then he finally just barely passed. No, you wouldn’t do that. You’ll try to go to the one who is most proficient in his science because you want the most competent that you can find. And therefore, you have to know that in the science of understanding life, the sages of Torah are the ones most proficient and most competent.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Are The Gedolim Right About Nixon

Rav Avigdor Miller on Asking the Chachmei Hatorah About Nixon

Q:
Is President Nixon an אוהב ישראל? Does he love the Jewish People?
A:
Well, that’s a very big order to expect of a gentile. The question we ask is: How much is a gentile not a שונא ישראל? And therefore, I think that on that question he would pass. President Nixon is not a שונא ישראל.
And since I understand what you’re getting at, I presume that I will have to speak a few words on this subject of President Nixon. But I’ll make it brief because we already spoke about it at length. And I’m going to ask all the people who are with me to sign the petition supporting the President that I will be circulating as soon as the lecture is finished.
Nothing has been brought forward to demonstrate that President Nixon ever did anything wrong to the Jews. The radio and the newspapers have said so many things, they have hinted at so many things, that by this time the public is thoroughly confused. The public in America has no mind of its own because everyone thinks along with the media. That’s a fact. And therefore the people have, unfortunately, gone along with the radical liberals, the iconoclasts and the vandals who are trying to tear down, not only the President – don’t think it’s this President that’s the problem – they want to tear down anything of authority.
Before President Nixon, do you know how much trouble there was about Vietnam?! And he didn’t start the Vietnam War. It was a Democrat regime that started the Vietnam War. But Nixon was blamed for it and that blame carried over to everything else. And therefore, as I explained last week, we should have some humility. Let’s understand that we do not have such independent minds. Let’s admit that we’re very much influenced by the radio and television announcers. And let’s turn to our great Torah teachers who don’t listen to radio all day long, who don’t look at television and who don’t read newspapers. They learn Torah all day long. And they’ll tell us the verdict of the Torah – what does Hakodosh Boruch Hu want of us? And they’ve told us in no uncertain terms: הוי מתפלל בשלומה של מלכות – Pray for the welfare of the government. The government means the President and the whole government behind him.
And don’t think that our great teachers don’t understand. Don’t think that they have closed eyes. What you have in your brain, and in all the brains of all the other Jews put together, is nothing compared to what our Roshei Yeshivah and Gedolei Ha’Rabbonim have in a fingernail.
Now, that’s a big order for you American Jews to accept. American Jews think that they’re smart. Everyone thinks he’s smart and that the rabbis are all numbskulls. And the extreme opposite is the truth. You American Jews, you – the ones who are here are among the best we have, and still, you have no brains in your heads except for what’s put in by the newspapers. That’s the truth!
And therefore, let’s lean back and relax and let’s rely on the chachmei hatorah – don’t rely on your own seichel. They told us to back the President and to pray for him. You’ll get a mitzvah and Hakodosh Boruch Hu will reward you for it.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Asking the Chachmei Hatorah About Nixon

Rav Avigdor Miller on Equality For African-Americans

Q:
Is there anything wrong with the African American community striving for equality? Didn’t we Jews also try to do the same?
A:
No, there’s nothing wrong with that at all. The African Americans have the right to strive for equality. There’s no question that everyone has the right to better himself and his place in society. Our claim is only that you must make this attempt for equality by legal means – not by power and not by force. We Jews – whatever we gained was not gained by forcing. It was not gained by burning down cities.

And we also did not request any privileges. The most we wanted was equality. But that we should be offered privileges above the rest of the population never entered our minds. Affirmative action?! Affirmative action – that’s one of the euphemistic names of a policy that is used to camouflage a movement that is intended to give privileges to them more than to others. Affirmative action means to give jobs and other privileges only to them – even when it means discriminating against more qualified people. And open admission to schools means to allow anyone to enter, even though that person is not qualified – and that means the qualified fellow loses out. Such things are absolutely unfair. And that is what is wrong in the present struggle for control of public office. The politicians who support these unfair and wrong policies in order to placate the vandals who are burning down cities are a danger to all of us.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Equality For African-Americans

Rav Avigdor Miller on Getting Rid of a Bad Reputation
Q:
How can a girl of twenty-one get rid of a bad reputation?

A:
She should leave the country. I mean it. A young man I know once committed a very nasty thing – he was a yeshiva man. He was ruined! So he came to me and he asked me what he should do. I told him to leave the country, that’s all. And he should start in a new place where they don’t know him. But I told him that he better watch his step, because there’s only a limited number of countries in this world.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Getting Rid of a Bad Reputation

Rav Avigdor Miller on Irreligious Israeli Soldiers in Olam Habah
Q:
I’d like quote for the Rav an anecdote from some of the greatest roshei yeshiva and thinkers such as Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz zatzal and the previous Vizhnitzer Rebbe zatzal that the irreligious Israeli soldiers have one of the most honored places in the World to Come. And, yibadeil l’chaim tovim, Rav Moshe Feinstein, said that most of the irreligious world, ruba de’ruba, are considered tinok shenishba and only a small amount are considered resha’im. In light of this would you perhaps reconsider your strong statements that you made against the irreligious Jews who died in the wars in Israel?

A:
As far as irreligious soldiers who died in the wars, I don’t recall any statements that I made. If I did, so they’re like any other irreligious Jews. Irreligious Jews, you have to know, are better than most gentiles. And we don’t need any authorities to back that up; it’s common sense. Even American irreligious Jews are generally better than gentiles – but certainly the irreligious Jews whose parents came from Russia or from Hitler’s crematoria so usually they’re not yet homosexuals and adulterers, and they doesn’t yet have as much malice as umos ha’olam. There’s no question about that – you don’t have to quote anybody about that. You can quote me because I said it in my very first book that the worst Jews are better than most of the good gentiles.

Q:
But you specifically mentioned in one of the Thursday night lectures that they have no share in the World-to-Come?

A:
The share in the World-to-Come is something that Hakodosh Boruch Hu alone can know, that’s what I said then. Only, why should they be given a share just as a gift? Hakodosh Boruch Hu will give them if He wants, but we go by certain rules. And one of the rules is if a person is a kofer, if he’s an atheist, so he’s not going to have a share in the World to Come. If a person doesn’t believe in Olam Habah he won’t have a share in the World to Come. The gemara says in Sanhedrin (46b) that if a man says, “Don’t bury because I don’t want a kapara,” – when a person is buried so that’s a kapara for him – but if before this man dies he says, “Don’t bury me because I don’t want a kapara,” so the gemara says there that he won’t have a kapara. If he doesn’t want a kapara, so he won’t have it! If a person doesn’t believe in Olam Habah, so there’s no Olam Habah for him. That’s one of the fundamentals: האומר אין תחית המתים מן התורה – If you say that there’s no Next World, so the gemara in Sanhedrin says that you won’t merit the Next World.

So what will it help if a gadol will give him a paper, a certificate – the question is: Does he believe in Olam Habah? You say he’s a tinok shenishba? So I’ll quote Rav Chaim Brisker. Reb Chaim Brisker said, “Nebach an apikoris is still an apikoris.” It doesn’t excuse it! We’re not talking about blaming him – it’s not a question of blame. To merit Olam Habah you have be ma’amin in Olam Habah. And if a person is not a ma’amin – it’s not a question of whose fault it is – he won’t get Olam Habah!

All you can say in the name of Reb Moshe is not that he’s a ben Olam Habah; you can say maybe that he’s better than the umos ha’olam. But the umos ha’olam also have no chelek in Olam Habah so there’s no need to say this irreligious Jew should get any Olam Habah. (Rav Moshe Feinstein zatzal, in his Igros Moshe [Even Ha’ezer 1:82, anaf 11] actually says that a tinok she’nishba is לא עדיפי מעכו״ם and that he is אינו בכלל ישראל)

Rav Chaim Brisker is also an authority and he speaks clearly on this subject. And he’s not talking merely whether they’re better than the gentiles. And he said that – he said that they won’t get any Olam Habah!

Q:
But Rav Aryeh Finkel of Mir quoted Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz as saying that all people killed in the wars are on the highest level?

A:
Highest level? Where? In Gan Eden? Where does he say that? Highest level?! He means the highest level of the gentiles. Read to me the words aloud about Olam Habah. Not other words – just about Olam Habah. What does he say about Olam Habah?

Q:
In the sefer Pirkei Geula from Rav Shachna Zohn who has haskomos from Rav Elya Lopian of Rav Yechezkel Levenstein and all the great –

A:
I’ll tell you what you should do. Instead of telling me something from a translation that’s just a few words that’s clipped from here and there, show it to me inside that one of these authorities say that he’s the highest level in Olam Habah. To be on the highest level in Olam Habah, you have to be not like the Chofetz Chaim – you have to be like Rabbi Akiva! Rabbi Akiva is higher than the Chofetz Chaim. So when you say this irreligious soldier is on a highest level, so you’re saying he’s higher than the Chofetz Chaim. Or you’re saying he’s higher than Rav Chaim Brisker. I’m not measuring who is higher, Reb Chaim Brisker or the Chofetz Chaim, but let’s say Rav Velvel Brisker. Rav Velvel will tell you he’s less than Reb Chaim, his father. So if you say the highest level, so he’s at least with Reb Velvel then. And if not with Reb Velvel, at least, let’s say, with Reb Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld.

So now we’re becoming ridiculous! We’re saying ridiculous things! We’re saying that the people who were drafted in the army and they had no alternative; if it was up to them they’d be eating Yom Kippur in a Tel Aviv café. But now they’re drafted in the army and they got killed against their will! It’s ridiculous to put that soldier next door to the Chofetz Chaim in the Next World. Unless a person doesn’t believe in the Next World, so then he can hand it out cheaply. But the Next World doesn’t come that cheap!

So you have to show me some authority who says that they’re sitting – not in the highest level in the Next World; show me that they’re sitting in the Next World at all! That’s what I want to see! Bring me a proof that they’re in the Next World at all!

You have to understand that when you speak to the public, sometimes you have to say words that can be construed with double meanings. So “the highest level” means compared, let’s say, to Idi Amin (former president of Uganda from 1971 to 1979 who was known as the Butcher of Uganda because of his torture and murder of thousands). Idi Amin is on the lowest level; he’s going to be on the lowest level in Gehinnom, so these soldiers will be a little higher than he is.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Irreligious Israeli Soldiers in Olam Habah

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Middle East
Q:
What does the Rav say about President Reagan’s attack on Ghadaffi?

A:
What do we say about President Reagan’s attack on Ghadaffi? We say, “Mr. Reagan, yiyasheir koichacha!”

Q:
What is your opinion of the PLO?

A:
Well, if the PLO was having a convention, and I had a helicopter, I would consider it my righteous duty to drop upon them a bomb.

Q:
And what is your opinion of the UJA?

A:
Well, if the UJA was having a convention, and I had a helicopter – [laughter from the crowd] – I would consider it my righteous duty to drop rotten eggs on them.

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Middle East

Rav Avigdor Miller on Joining The Fight Against Anti-Semitism
Q:
Should one participate with the Jewish organizations that are pursuing the fight against antisemitism in America?

A:
Let me tell you something. I won’t mention which one, but there’s a certain organization – a wealthy organization – that fights antisemitism. But they also fight for the rights of blacks and for the rights of gays and for everybody else. What business does a Jewish organization have fighting for the gays?! That’s a Jewish organization?! They fight for the right to make abortions. Anybody who wants an abortion should have that right, they say, no questions asked. They say, “We fight for rights. We fight for everybody’s rights.” In order to show that they’re not selfish they say, “We don’t only fight for Jewish rights. We fight for other people’s rights too. Women want abortions, let them have abortions too. Men want to marry men, let them get married.” Freedom! Freedom! Freedom to do whatever you want. That’s a Jewish organization?! An organization that fights for things that are disgusting in the eyes of Hakodosh Boruch Hu is a Jewish organization?!

And these people are spending money, large sums of money to fight for things that are repugnant to Hashem. One of these organizations that fights antisemitism recently gave $186,000 to the gay synagogue. Yes, in the fight against antisemitism they gave a $186,000 grant to the gay synagogue. To a yeshiva they wouldn’t give!

It’s a waste of money to participate in any of these organizations. Most of them are headed by people with no minds at all – fools who don’t know what they’re doing.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Joining The Fight Against Anti-Semitism

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Tzadik Who Begs For Bread
Q:
Dovid Hamelech said: ולא ראיתי צדיק נעזב וזרעו מקבש לכם – that he never saw a righteous man who was forsaken by Hashem and had to beg for bread (Tehillim 37:25). How do you reconcile this statement with the fact that we see many poor families who have a difficulty making a living and they have to go out to beg?

A:
It says, לא ראיתי צדיק נעזב – I don’t see a tzaddik who is forsaken and his children have to seek out bread. So how do we reconcile that with the fact that we see it’s not so?

And the answer is – you’ll have to forgive me; I mean that those people will have to forgive me – but not everybody whom you think is a tzaddik, actually is. The fact that a person seems to you to be a tzaddik, may just be a superficiality; a tzaddik is something that is usually an inner attitude of a person. And therefore, it’s very hard for me to answer that question in general; but specifically each case that you think of, it could be that he’s not.

Sometimes there are exceptions, but by and large we have to say that tzaddikim don’t beg. When a person is מבקש לחם – he begs, it’s a sign that something’s wrong. Why doesn’t he work? Real tzaddikim don’t beg – they prefer to work, any kind of work.

Now, sometimes a person works hard, but it’s not enough – he needs extra money to pay for schar limud for his children. So he’s not mevakesh lechem; he’s mevakesh schar limud. He seeks schar limud. But for lechem, he’s working.

But when a person is a loafer and he’s מטיל עצמו על הציבור, he throws himself on the community for support, I don’t see what kind of tzaddik he is. I know one person like that, a ba’al teshuva who came from out of town. He’s a big ba’al teshuva – or so he thinks – he grew a big beard and now he goes around among the chassidishe shtiblach and he begs. Is that a way for a ba’al teshuva to be? A ba’al teshuva has to throw himself on frum Jews to support him? Why doesn’t he work? That itself shows that he’s not a genuine ba’al teshuva — that’s not a tzaddik.

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Tzadik Who Begs For Bread

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Inferiority Complex
Q:
There’s a frum boy who suffers from an inferiority complex. What should he do about it?

A:
I don’t know exactly what you mean by that, but you do have to know the following: An inferiority complex is nothing wrong at all – he should be happy with it. If you feel inferior, that’s wonderful – you’re an anav.

The only trouble is if you’re unhappy with it; if you’re unsatisfied with the inferiority complex then you’re not an anav. You really want kavod; you’d like to be a blustering gibor, that everybody should look up to you and praise you and it hurts you that you don’t have the boldness. That kind of inferiority complex you’re asking about? So we say, learn mussar and learn how silly it is, how useless it is to be a bigshot. Learn mussar and you’ll realize how lucky you are that you’re a baishan, a bashful fellow. בושת פנים לגן עדן – If a person is bashful, he’s a candidate for Gan Eden (Avos 5:20). Do you know how many sins he is spared? It’s the fellow who is bold and not ashamed, that’s the one who can fall into every kind of aveirah, every temptation. But a man who is bashful, he is protected from very many temptations.

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Inferiority Complex

Rav Avigdor Miller on Plays and Color War
Q:
What is your opinion about frum plays that are put on? Is it a goyishe idea that should be avoided?

A:
Plays? You mean plays that are put on to raise money for tzedaka for instance?

Q:
Yes.

A:
In general, the whole concept of drama is non Jewish — that you know. However, we have many things that are practiced today that do not have their origin in Jewish customs – and it could be in the course of the time that they will be discarded.

I’ll give an example. In some girls school, even frum girls schools, they have color war. Now color war has nothing to do with Judaism; it’s stam naarishkeit. But still the mechanchos, the people in charge, find it useful. In order to interest the talmidos and to give them something that’s lively, something exciting, so they bring this in. It’s not harmful, but it’s not Jewish either.

And so, there are things we condone for the time being. I’m certain that when the generations will improve, that people will no longer need many of these things. But for the time being, as far as what our reaction should be – we have to play it by ear. Better people already know what to do. Those that are on the way to becoming better, will eventually become better, and they’ll know what to do. But as I said, you have to play it by ear.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Plays and Color War

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Airplane Crash
Q:
What do you think our reaction should be to the destruction of the Pan Am jetliner?

A:
The first thing is to thank Hakodosh Boruch Hu that you weren’t there – that’s very important. That’s one of the big reasons that things happen in this world. אין הקדוש ברוך הוא מביא פרעניות אלא בשביל ישראל – Any misfortune that happen in this world are for the purpose of Am Yisroel. And Rashi there says: כדי ליראם – that it’s done to frighten them, so that they should do teshuva.

So the first thing is to think, “Did I ever travel on an airplane?” Yes, certainly. And look; boruch Hashem, boruch Hashem, I’m still here!” So you’ll start saying, “Well, in most of the cases airplanes don’t crash, so I don’t have to think about that.” No, that’s a mistake. You’re misusing the airplane crash. That incident has to be utilized properly in order to gain more gratitude to Hashem.

Now, if we’ll study more about that, we’ll learn there were twenty frum Jews who were scheduled to take that airplane, but they were rerouted for a certain reason. That means that Hakodosh Boruch Hu was rerouting them – it’s a true fact. Twenty frum Jews were supposed to be on that plane and they weren’t. It was the yad Hashem.

Of course, they themselves should always – all their lives – think about that and sing to Hakodosh Boruch Hu. But we too have to study that however. It’s up to us also to study that and to see that everyone on that plane was led there by Hakodosh Boruch Hu; they were sentenced by Hashem beforehand.

Why were they sentenced? Only Hashem knows; but we know that He brought them all together in one place where all those people were destined to lose their lives and that’s why it happened that moment. Nothing happens by accident.

Of course, if they could find the terrorist who planted the bomb there, if it was up to me they wouldn’t just kill him. They’d put him to death by slow torture in order to teach a lesson. The nations of the world are insane in their leniency to criminals, especially to criminals of terrorism. The nations are insane.

The liberals are the worst enemies of the public safety. And that’s why we should vote against every liberal politician. We should vote against every liberal who runs for office because they are our deadly enemies. All the Jews who were killed and are being constantly killed – Jews are being killed constantly and nothing is done – it’s due to the liberals. So when a liberal goes to the legislature or wherever he goes and he takes his seat, he is now becoming your deadly enemy. He’s going to keep the murderers encouraged all the time, because the criminals know that nothing will happen to them as long as that liberal is in office.

However, in addition to the great lesson of how important it is for us to be stern in judgment and to learn that you must punish criminals – otherwise the world has no existence; without justice there cannot be any safety in the world – but in addition to that, we have to learn how important it is for us always to be on guard with yiras Hashem. Nobody can know when he is being sentenced, chas v’shalom.

A person may be packing his valise and he’s full of joy going for a happy trip. He doesn’t know that he is going now to his final execution. And therefore at all times a man must be ready with yiras Hashem. At all times a person should think, “Who knows what can happen?”

And do you know when you should think about that? When you fall tachnun. רחום וחנון חטאתי לפניך – I sinned before You Hashem, השם אל באפך תוכיחני – Please, Hashem, don’t rebuke me in Your wrath. Ask Hashem constantly when you fall on your face! That’s why you fall on your face – you’re asking for rachamim! Don’t tell me you prayed already. Maybe it didn’t help; maybe despite your prayers the sentence was passed. So you have to fall on your face tachanun and beg – a condemned man falls on his arm and he bursts out with tachanunim – “Please Hashem; please don’t rebuke me in Your wrath.” That’s why it’s tachanun – you’re imploring! “Hashem; please, please, recall the decree!”

That’s how important it is to say tachanun with an outcry all the time. Every time, cry out to Hashem. That’s how important it is. Nobody can know what’s in store for him. And therefore it always pays beforehand to cry out to Hashem.

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Airplane Crash

Rav Avigdor Miller On Mother-In-Laws
Q:
How does one bring peace to his family when in-laws are involved in the conflict?

A:
Number one, each partner should tell his or her father and mother. “Pa, Ma, stay out of it. Don’t talk to me one word against my husband or against my wife!” Lay down the law and don’t be afraid to do it. Your wife comes first. על כן יעזב איש את אביו ואת אמו — A man should forsake his father and his mother, ודבק באשתו, and he should be loyal to his spouse.

It’s a most stupid thing for a parent to talk to a child against the child’s spouse. And if the parents are so stupid, you have to tell them, “Either you stop talking about that or I won’t talk to you anymore.” Don’t be afraid! “I’ll talk about everything but not about my spouse.” That’s the first thing, to lay down the law.

Secondly, a husband and wife should never criticize each other’s parents. Don’t criticize your husband’s brothers or sisters. Never do that. That’s bad manners and it’s bad diplomacy. Now, this is elementary and very many people understand it by common sense, but some people must be told.

Now, sometimes it already has commenced – the war is on. What do you do? You must stop it. Of course, it’s not easy because they’re already angry at you. There’s a back and forth, and they want to get revenge for what you did in the past, so you have to find ways and means of making up. Start sending little gifts to your mother-in-law. Little gifts to your sisters-in-law, to your brothers-in-law. Find ways and means of being nice to them. They’ll continue to barb you, to needle you. But if you won’t react, little by little, it’ll die out, and after some time, peace will be restored.

Of course, if you start out on the right foot, it’s still better. When you get married start with wisdom. Make up your mind that you’re going to be the very best to your husband’s family or your wife’s family that you’re able to be.

Of course, don’t have your mother-in-law around too much. A mother-in-law should not settle in her daughter-in-law’s house. If she has to live with a child, she has to live with a daughter, but never with a daughter-in-law. Because a mother-in-law would have to be an angel in order to keep her mouth shut. And the daughter-in-law has to be an angel to suffer her mother-in-law.

Now there was a case – I had a member here whose mother was a widow and she lived with him. And they lived in tranquility; the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law lived peacefully. It was a remarkable story. Many years passed by and never was there a whisper of dissension. But that’s an exception – it’s not something that should be.

Rav Avigdor Miller On Mother-In-Laws

Rav Avigdor Miller on How To Learn To Keep Your Mouth Closed
Q:
How does one succeed in keeping his mouth shut?

A:
It depends on the circumstances. The first thing is that you have to think to yourself, “Where is the place where I have most danger of speaking?” You don’t speak when you’re by yourself. So you have to think about that. “What kind of company is the place where I’m most liable to speak?”

Let’s say you talk most at work. So now, when you’re entering your place of work, make up your mind that you’re going to make yourself a reminder. Take out a piece of string that you prepared for the purpose and tie it around your finger. And constantly look at that string to remind you to keep your mouth closed.

You should try that – it’s not so easy. And after a while, you might even forget about the string. After a while, you might become so accustomed that you could be looking at the string and you’re still talking. You have to train yourself to react to the string. While you’re looking at the string, you have to say to yourself as follows: פִּי כְסִיל מְחִתָּה לוֹ – The mouth of a fool is his ruination (Mishlei 18:7). Say it to yourself again and again.

Who’s a fool? If you open your mouth, you’re already a fool. So פי כסיל – The mouth of the fool, מחתה לו – that’s his ruination. And if you want to save yourself from that, so keep your mouth closed. When you talk, your mind is melted down and goes through your mouth. You lose everything you have in your brains by talking. And therefore, make some sign for yourself.

Now, let’s say you talk too much at home – let’s say you’re a woman and when your husband comes from work you start hakenatcheinik. He’s tired, he wants a rest; so make up your mind that you’re going to do something about that. Take a rubber band and put it around your thumb and make up your mind that you’ll keep the rubber band on as long as your husband is tired. If he’s well-rested and willing to listen, then you could remove it.

Do something mechanical to remind you. By mechanical means, a person can help control his tongue and be successful in learning how to talk only what is most necessary. Try it out. There’s no charge here for good advice.

Rav Avigdor Miller on How To Learn To Keep Your Mouth Closed

Rav Avigdor Miller on Artscroll, Dikduk and False Claims

Q:
Should teenagers be discouraged from using the Artscroll gemara or the Artscroll chumash with Rashi?
A:
I don’t see why it should be discouraged. Anything that can help you learn, you should utilize.

Q:
Is it dangerous to study Hebrew grammar from a sefer written by a person who is not religious or not Jewish?
A:
Is it dangerous to learn dikduk from a sefer written by somebody who is not a ma’amin? It depends on what’s in the sefer. It depends what else is in there. If he has just grammar alone, probably it’s not dangerous. If he has pesukim that he uses to illustrate the examples, then you have to watch out.

Q:
How does Rabbi Miller explain the people who claim that they died and came back to life again? Did they actually experience anything?

A:
Can you tell me the name of the one who claimed that – besides for the famous one?

Q:
There are people who claim that they actually died; they experienced that someone took them away; a malach hamaves came and took them away. And then they came back to life.

A:
Well, we have a right to be skeptical. It’s almost certain that every instance is nothing but imagination or fraud. People who die usually tend to remain dead.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Artscroll, Dikduk and False Claims

Rav Avigdor Miller on Trips for Relaxation
Q:
What do you say about a person going on a trip for relaxation ?

A:
It depends what you mean by a trip. If you want to take a trip down Ocean Parkway, I’m all for it. It’s fresh air, it’s exercise, and you’re not wasting money. But a trip someplace by a vehicle, airplane or whatever it is, is not refreshing.

Now, sometimes a person is so confused in his mind that he has to do anything to get his mind off his troubles. So I’m not saying anything about that. But ordinarily, for relaxation you don’t go on trips. Trips make you tired and you don’t get the required exercise and fresh air that help a person come back to normal. And therefore it’s all a hundred percent waste of money.

Now, if you’re serious about relaxation you would take up a system of touring the city streets – by daytime, not by night – walking for miles and miles and then coming home and eating a nice meal and going to sleep. And if necessary going out again for a walk if you’re so serious.

But traveling is no answer for the problem of relaxation. People travel back and forth; they go to Eretz Yisroel and to Florida, and some go to Switzerland too. And all they do is spend money and get more and more tired so when they come back they need a vacation.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Trips for Relaxation

Rav Avigdor Miller on Shabbos Sleep
Q:
Should one sleep on Shabbos afternoon?

A:
Absolutely. Absolutely! However, that doesn’t mean that you should climb into your pajamas and remain there all Shabbos. Because Shabbos is a wonderful opportunity for much better things than sleep.

But you must understand that sleep is extremely important for our health. It’s extremely important for our mental health and it’s being neglected by very many people. So Shabbos is a good opportunity to catch up on your sleep. Because of Shabbos, many people are able to survive the week. Otherwise, they would collapse for lack of sleep. So certainly you should utilize Shabbos for sleep. But of course, don’t overdo it.

And by the way, since you mentioned the subject, I will tell you that you must be careful to go to sleep every night on time. And make sure that you get enough sleep, because due to lack of sleep, many, many people have ruined their lives.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Shabbos Sleep

Rav Avigdor Miller on Sending Your Son to High School Lisheim Shamayim
Q:
Should one send his son to the English classes in high school? Don’t they teach apikorsis there?

A:
And the answer is that they do. And that’s why it’s a very important question you’re asking.

First, there’s a separate question: Should your children learn the language of the land? And the answer to that question is yes. It’s valuable because a person should teach his son an umnus, a trade. It’s a gemara that a man should teach his son to make a living. And even though we don’t know what he’s going to do, but he’ll have to know how to read and write and calculate; so he’s going to need a certain amount of education.

Now, I’m not saying that if a person wants to send his son to a place where there’s no limudei chol, that he’s doing something wrong. But the people who are sending their children to limudei chol, if they’re doing it lisheim shamayim, they should know that it’s a good thing too; no question about it. You have to make a living in this world. You have to support a wife and children. And therefore when a young man has some kind of a preparation, so it’s like teaching him an umnus.

However, the problem that you mentioned of teaching apikorsis, that’s a very important problem, and you have to be very careful. And therefore in some yeshivos they have a hashgacha on what the teachers are saying, and you can rely on them.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Sending Your Son to High School Lisheim Shamayim

Rav Avigdor Miller on Siyum Mesechta

Q:
What should the thoughts be of a person when he finishes a mesechta of gemara?

A:
When a person finishes a mesechta of gemara, he should feel intense joy. Not just joy – intense joy! And after that, intense responsibility. You learned a mesechta, so now you make sure to begin reviewing it. Otherwise it’ll go lost and the next time you see it, it’ll be like a brand new gemara. You learned a mesechta? Review it again and again and again and again. Lock it in. It’s like if a person is giving you money. If I would give you money, would you just leave it on your front steps?! You want to just leave it to get lost?!

So therefore, when you finish learning something, when you complete a limud, you should feel two things: an intense joy and an intense responsibility. Make sure to chazer, chazer, chazer. Always review what you learned and lock it in. It’s such a tragedy to forget.

So you have two attitudes now. Number one is boruch Hashem, I learned a mesechta! That’s a tremendous happiness. But number two is that it’s also a tremendous responsibility. It’s a tremendous responsibility you have now! When a child is born to you, it’s a big simcha, yes? Are you going to leave that child on the doorstep?!
TAPE # E-217

Growing Great at the Siyum Ha’Shas (Excerpt From Tape # E-12)

The gemara says כל בי עשרה שכינתא שריא — When ten Jews come together, the Shechina rests on them (Sanhedrin 39a). Now, you’ll say that’s because a Jew is holy, so when ten kedoshim come together we understand that the Shechinah should rest on them. But I’m going to tell you a chiddush in this ma’amar – not to contradict the idea of kedusha, but a different idea in addition to that.

When you have ten Jews all united all with one purpose, all wanting to serve Hashem together, it’s a chizuk for the ten Jews who are there. Now, it’s not a tremendous chizuk like when a few million people came together at Har Sinai was, but still it’s something – ten Jews coming together to serve Hashem is a chizuk!

So Hashem says: That chizuk causes the Shechina to rest on you. Don’t think it’s a small thing when Jews gather together. Because that chizuk that you get, that spirit and increased confidence in your purpose in this world that you feel, causes the Shechina to come and rest on you.

And therefore Moshe Rabeinu said to Hashem: שובה השם – Come to rest Hashem. Where do You rest your Shechinah, Hashem? On רבבות אלפי ישראל – Wherever there are “ten thousands and thousands” of Yisroel. That’s two times ten thousand, and another two times a thousand. So the gemara (Yevamos 64a) says from here we see that the Shechina rests on 22,000 of Yisroel. If you could find 22,000 of Yisroel that come together at one time, then a whole different level of Shechina comes on them. Because when each one sees so many other people so each one is fortified – you become oifgelebt, you become emotionally charged! 22,000 frum Jews all together! Each who is there becomes so full of a fire because of the numbers – that’s the power that numbers give; it’s a tremendous encouragement! So Hakodosh Boruch Hu says, “If that’s the case, if you have the spirit in you and you’re excited about Me, then I’ll give you even more spirit, more confidence, and the Shechina rests on them.

When the Agudas Yisroel made a Siyum Hashas, so twenty thousand Jews came. It knocked the eyes out of the New York Times. It hurt them to no end. Very good! Even more than an eye should be knocked out. It was a kiddush Hashem to have twenty thousand Jews at a Siyum Hashas! But more than the kiddush Hashem, it was a tremendous chizuk!

And you can go to other places too. I once went to see the Satmar Rav, the old Satmarer Rav, zichrono livracha, on Hoshana Rabbah. The place was packed; it was jam packed with people and the Hoshanos took four hours! It was a tremendous kiddush Hashem! A great crowd of people that inspired everyone.

When the Belzer made a chasuna, it was a tremendous chasuna, a royal convention – bigger than a convention. All frum Jews, all wearing shtreimelach. And each one went away from that chasuna with a new chizuk, with a new kind of loyalty to Hakodosh Boruch Hu because the more you have Jews who demonstrate that they are loyal to Hashem and to His Torah, the easier it is for you to be mischazek, to strengthen yourself in your emunah.

You may not admit it. You want to be a philosopher, a chacham – you want to read the Kuzari and the Chovos Halevavos. Fine, very good. But the chizuk you get from a multitude of Jews is more important than anything else. And therefore, we shouldn’t ignore this opportunity. It’s a very important point what you’re hearing now – we have to know that whenever you go to a place where you see a big number of Jews, you’re going to come back home not the same person anymore.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Siyum Mesechta

Rav Avigdor Miller on Plunging into Marriage

Q:
What advice should I give to a boy who is of age to get married but doesn’t feel ready for it?

A:
You have to tell him that he’s never going to feel ready for it, so he might as well plunge in. It’s like a man has to go to the mikveh on erev Yom Kippur and it’s freezing cold. Some mikvehs are hot but let’s say in the country, the mikveh is cold and he’s standing on the brink contemplating what to do. So give him a little friendly push on the back. Once he’s inside, he’ll enjoy it. And marriage too; it doesn’t pay to contemplate – you just have to dive in.

Once there was a rosh yeshiva who said marriage is like a pill in a capsule; a tasteless capsule. But inside, it’s a very bitter medicine. So if you swallow the capsule, it will be good; but if you start opening up the capsule and tasting what’s inside, you’ll spit it out and never swallow. And so don’t examine it too closely. Don’t examine the institution of marriage too closely and don’t examine the kallah too closely. If she comes from a frum family and she’s a frum girl, and she’s healthy, and she means business – she wants to have a lot of children, and she wants to be a housewife, not a career girl, and she wants to be frum and she shares your ideals, so dive in and Hakodosh Boruch Hu will help you. Once you start examining too much, if her nose is the right length, then you’ll never find anyone who will suit you.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Plunging into Marriage

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Wicked Fall Into the Hands of the Righteous
Q:
Why do we mention the idea of רשעים ביד צדיקים, the wicked falling into the hands of the righteous, in Al Hanisim? Isn’t the miracle that it was רבים ביד מעטים, a multitude falling into the hands of the few?

A:
Now pay attention. Two things are said in Al Hanisim. One is the neis of רבים ביד מעטים, the miracle of a multitude falling into the hands of the few. That’s one miracle. After all, the Greeks had a big and strong army; and the Jews didn’t have any army at all. That’s one neis — the miracle of גבורים ביד חלשים and רבים ביד מעטים, the strong into the hands of the weak and the many into the hands of the few. That’s a big neis after all.

But the second neis is not only that the resha’im were defeated, but the added simcha, the added happiness, that they were defeated by tzadikim. And that’s why we go out of our way to say רשעים ביד צדיקים. The wicked were defeated by the righteous! A tremendous kiddush Hashem!

Look, when a rasha is walking in the street and he falls down dead, so we say “Boruch Hashem.” We say, “Boruch Hashem, kein yirbu!” But suppose a rasha would start up with a tzadik; he starts up with a chassidishe boy, a skinny little chassidishe boy. And this little boy takes his little fist and he gives the rasha a hit, and the rasha falls down dead. That’s a kiddush Hashem, no question about it! It’s רשעים ביד צדיקים, the wicked one was felled by the righteous one! That itself is a special simcha!

So, one is the neis of רבים ביד מעטים, the many falling into the hands of the few, and the other is a neis that the tzadikim had their hatzlacha, their success. We want to see tzadikim have hatzlacha in this world! And therefore we say זדים ביד עוסקי תורתיך, the wicked sinners fell into the hands of those who study Your Torah. Because it’s a great simcha to see the tzadikim win out in this world.

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Wicked Fall Into the Hands of the Righteous

Rav Avigdor Miller on How to Fight Missionaries on Chanukah
Q:
What preventive measure can we do now to avoid our children falling into the hands of missionaries when they grow up?

A:
The most influential method is to cause Jewish children to love their people. Because arguments are not suitable for them at such a young age. Besides, who wants to go into such details with little children or boys and girls of a young age and teach them to dispute with missionaries? No, what we have to do is teach the Jewish people to love their yiddishkeit – that’s the best preventive measure.

When a boy just learn gemara for instance; even if he’s a lamdan, but if there’s no idealism there, if it’s just a matter of getting good marks, or of being praised for being a lamdan, it’s to him very dry. And now along comes somebody who will teach him fake idealism and inspire him with false inspirations, false idealism, false derech eretz so-to-speak, to love your fellow man, so-to-speak. The truth is that it’s all garbage – they don’t love anybody except themselves – but he is deceived by that because he didn’t hear about it in a Jewish house – so he thinks that Judaism is nothing but dry-as-dust, things that don’t have any spiritual content, and so he doesn’t have have any inspiration from that. That boy doesn’t love his People. It doesn’t mean he will become, chas vesholom, a meshumad, but if he doesn’t love his People; he’s not armed against outside influences.

The Jewish child has to learn idealism – it’s a very important element. Idealism is a very important subject, and you have to know how to teach it. Every parent can undertake to make his child a lover of Jews, that he should become an אוהב עמו ישראל – he should love his People. He should love the Jewish nation, to see the beauty of everything in the Am Yisroel.

When Chanukah comes, don’t merely teach him to light the candles, to be a מהדרין מן המהדרין, to use shemen zayis, make a bracha right, to have his own menorah — all that is wonderful but it’s not enough. You have to teach him the background of the Chanukah story; the heroism of our forefathers who fought and gave their lives. Inspire him! That’s already a preparation for the battle against the gentile influence. You have to inspire the child. You have to talk to him.

Let’s say it’s Pesach; so you have to be very careful that there shouldn’t be any chometz. The mother says, “Watch out for chometz – don’t drop chometz on the floor before Pesach; see that you should eat on a towel because soon we’ll have to be bodek chometz.” Everything is done according to halacha; it’s very good, very good! But it’s not enough! You have to speak about the ideals of Pesach, about what chometz means. Chometz means we’re battling against the gentile influence that surrounded us in Mitzrayim. We wanted Hakodosh Boruch Hu to take us out from Mitzrayim so that we should be free from the shibud, the enslavement to the wickedness of all the immorality that was prevalent in Mitzrayim. That’s the chometz — the chometz is the wickedness of the nations of the world. Of course, we have to watch all the halachos and guard everything, but you have to make the explanation. Everything should be full of idealism; and by teaching the child the ideals of the Torah, then he will be 100% warned and armed against other foreign ideologies.

Rav Avigdor Miller on How to Fight Missionaries on Chanukah

Rav Avigdor Miller on Chanukah Gifts
Q:
The evening of December 25th is the first night of Chanukah. Should Jews refrain from giving gifts that evening?

A:
My friends, if you won’t give gifts on Chanukah, you won’t be trangressing any mitzvah d’oraisah or any mitzvah d’rabanan. There’s no practice, there’s no minhag, there’s no custom that Jews give gifts on Chanukah. Chanukah gifts is an American translation of gentile ways.

Now, I’m not saying, if you want to give gifts on Chanukah, that you shouldn’t give. But don’t feel that you’re doing a noble and holy thing if you give Chanukah gifts.

Q:
Should someone buy gifts for his children on Chanukah?

A:
There’s no harm, but you have to be careful that it shouldn’t enter into the realm of the season’s holidays spirit. It shouldn’t be done because of the general atmosphere of the street, because they’re doing something like that. You have to beware of that attitude.

So, to give cash is a much better idea. Chanukah gelt is a well-known minhag, so give cash if you can. I don’t say it’s wrong to give gifts; nothing wrong with giving gifts. But make sure, in your own mind at least, that you’re divorced from any thoughts of the season.

Chanukah is not the season to give gifts, no, no. It’s not the gift season. You can give gifts anytime. You can give gifts on Shavuos too, and Purim and Pesach. And if you want to give gifts on Chanukah as well, I’m not going to tell you no. But if you’re going to make a big fuss about it, and make it into an ideal, that Chanukah is the time to give gifts, then you might as well sing carols and put up a Chanukah tree, because that’s what it really is.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Chanukah Gifts

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Miracle Left Out of Al Hanisim
Q:
If the most important aspect of the Chanukah neis is the oil lasting for eight days and not the winning of the war, then why don’t we mention the miracle of the candles in al hanisim?

A:
I’ll tell you a little anecdote that was said over by the Alter of Slabodka. It says in the Torah: זכור את היום הזה אשר יצאתם ממצרים – Remember this day when you went out of Mitzrayim … היום אתם יוצאים בחודש האביב – it was a spring day when you left Mitzrayim. Hakodosh Boruch Hu told the Jewish people to remember that they were taken out Mitzrayim during the month of spring. The Alter said that we see that Hakodosh Boruch Hu wants to remind us that it was nice weather when we went out of Mitzrayim.

So here you have a people who were enslaved for so many years בחומר ובלבנים and with עבודת פרך – backbreaking labor. For two hundred and ten years they couldn’t leave Mitzrayim; and finally the time comes to go out – so let’s say it was a blizzard. So what?! They would walk out of Mitzrayim singing in the blizzard! So you’re going to stop and take note of the fact that it was a beautiful spring day as well?!

So the Alter said, yes. Even in a mountain of kindliness that someone is giving you, you shouldn’t overlook even one grain of kindliness. And the fact that the geulah from Mitzrayim took place on a beautiful spring day – they were walking out and singing, and then they sang אז ישיר – and it was beautiful all around. Nature was blooming. It was Nissan. And that helped too. Yes, that was part of the enjoyment.

And therefore, although the neis of Chanukah was nothing but the oil that lasted for eight days, but it was still a lot of fun beating the goyim. It was a lot of fun when a handful of men under Yehuda Hamacabi rushed forward with swords and hacked down an army that was far more superior to them. And they left a field that was full of dead bodies. It was a lot of fun! It was an enjoyment. And therefore we don’t neglect that. We speak about it and we thank Hakodosh Boruch Hu for that as well.

But because we want to be sure to emphasize the real neis, so we don’t mix the neis of the oil into it. We only hint at it: והדליקו נרות בחצרות קדשיך – They kindled neiros too. But we don’t want to speak about it at length in al hanisim because then it would lose its character as being most important. We defeated the enemy and we also had a miracle of the menorah?! No, no. That would be belittling the neis of the oil.

So the neis of the Chanukah is played out by itself in our homes. Every night it’s a ceremony that stands out on its own and nothing but the oil is commemorated at that ceremony. Only that in shemonah esrei we can afford to mention the other things too. But we don’t mix them because then you’d be making a mistake about what Chanukah is really about.

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Miracle Left Out of Al Hanisim

Rav Avigdor Miller on Yoshkeh and Christianity

Q:
The Rav said tonight that Yoshkeh was basically an observant Jew and that it was only the later Christians who created a new religion. But then why is Yoshkeh called a meisis in the gemara?

A:
Yoshkeh was considered a meisis because he ridiculed the chachomim and encouraged the ridicule of the chachomim. And anyone who ridicules the Torah leaders is chayav misah. We know that כל העובר על דברי חכמים חייב מיתה – “If someone is going to disregard the words of the chachomim, then he is deserving of death” (Brachos 4b).The chachmei hatorah are the light of our eyes. They are the einei ha’eidah, the eyes of our people. And a loyal Jew views the world through the eyes of the chachomim. And so if a fellow in the street is walking around with a few bums following him, and he’s making jokes against the chachomim, and ridiculing them and encouraging others to ridicule them, then he has lost his right to exist. That’s a meisis.

But did Yoshkeh himself worship avodah zarah? No, no. He wouldn’t even think of avodah zarah. You have to know that he was a Jew. And if sometimes you find statements that are attributed to him that seem to imply differently, those may be due to the later writers who put things into his mouth as if he said it. But it’s not mistaber that he said it. No, it’s not logical that those are his words. Because we know that he was a Jew. He said the following – and I’m telling you what it says in the New Testament – “If anyone were to oppose even a jot or a tittle of what’s in the Torah” – that means even a yud or a tag – “then that man has no place in this world.”

All Jews were like that in ancient times. Only that he opposed the chachmei hatorah. And that we know. We know that he opposed the sages and tried to rally people to this cause. And that is a tremendous aveirah, a terrible sin. That’s why we call him a meisis.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Yoshkeh and Christianity

Rav Avigdor Miller on How to React to Impeachment
Q:
Did you change your mind about President Nixon now that it has been proven that he cheated on his income taxes?

A:
If anybody is even a little bit acquainted with the income tax laws, he knows that they have so many nuances of interpretation, that if you get a mean judge, he could convict almost anybody of income tax evasion on technicalities. And that’s besides the fact that he could actually convict most people outright for straight out fraud. If investigations were made on everybody, most people would be behind bars. This is well-known.

What are accountants for? Not to give the government its due. An accountant is there to see how much he can keep out of the hands of the government. But even when an accountant is perfectly honest and his report doesn’t hold back anything, still there are so many shades of meaning in the tax codes. You know that many of these cases have gone in front of the courts. Income tax cases are constantly coming up in front of the Supreme Court, which means that the laws are open to interpretation. One court says this and then it’s overturned. And then it’s appealed and it’s overturned again. Nixon didn’t cheat on his income taxes. He had some of the best accountants in the country, you can be sure of that. And their interpretation was one way. But once these eagle-eyes hawk liberals are after him, so anything that he does is interpreted to his discredit. And therefore they forced him to pay. He could have fought it in the courts. Absolutely he could have fought this case in the courts. But he didn’t want to. It wasn’t worth it. That’s why he paid.

Now, on the subject of the tapes, we have to realize that America is actually running wild. To take tapes of a president’s private conversations and to broadcast them on the radio for everyone to hear — that means that America has hit a new low. Never before has there been such a disgrace.

And therefore, we have to keep our heads above water. There is a flood of wickedness that is sweeping the country. And it’s a craze. It’s not a rational thing. Just because the Democrats couldn’t win at the ballot box, they’re trying to recoup their losses in Congress through impeachment.

On this subject, you have to know that the public are nothing but the victims of the media. I have told you many times that you are all the victims of the radio and the newspapers. But if we were able to judge the situation impartially, you’d see that President Nixon is actually one of the great presidents. He is a victim of persecution. And I think that every Jew should speak up. Every Jew should take his cue, not from the mischievous men on the radio and television, but he should take his cue from the Gedolei Yisroel, and he should be מתפלל בשלומה של מלכות. You should pray for the welfare of the President and his government. I think we all ought to write a little note to President Nixon. Address it to President Nixon, White House, Washington D.C. and write: “President Nixon, we are with you.” And put the date on it so that he shouldn’t think that it was a week ago that you wrote it. No, you’re writing it today, after the news came out. “President Nixon, we are with you!” And if you can also write some other notes to his opponents, telling them what to do, then do it. And if you want to tell them where to go, you can do that too.

Rav Avigdor Miller on How to React to Impeachment

Rav Avigdor Miller on Carrying a Handgun
Q:
When a person works in a dangerous neighborhood, is it advisable to apply for a license for a gun?

A:
Now that’s a question that’s not so easy to answer because many times you can get by with a substitute for a gun. Like what you say in Elokai Netzor: ונפשי כעפר לכל תהיה – And my soul should be like dust to everybody. If somebody, a goy, is fresh and insults you, become an anav. It pays to be an anav – you’ll live longer if you’re an anav.

But when you have a gun in your pocket, you might forget yourself and answer back something rash. And then, it’s not so certain that he doesn’t have a gun. And he might know how to use it better than you.

I was once walking in the street and I visited a friend of mine and he saw that I carried a stick, a heavy stick, on me. It was many years ago, about thirty years ago and it was a dangerous neighborhood so I was holding a stick. And this friend told me, “Don’t do that! It’s dangerous to carry a stick.”

It’s dangerous to carry a stick, because first of all they could take the stick away and hit you with it. That’s number one. Secondly, with a stick, you become reckless. Without a stick, you’ll stay home. You’re safer off. And it’s better always to avoid trouble.

I told you this many times. The Chinese say, “Who is a hero? The one who knows how to run away.” That’s a hero – if you know how to run away you’re the hero.

So therefore, I won’t answer the question. It’s always better to avoid any possibility of danger, but carrying a gun sometimes makes you reckless and you go into places where ordinarily you wouldn’t go.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Carrying a Handgun

Rav Avigdor Miller on Free Will and Hashem’s Will
Q:
If Hashem fashions the hearts of a man how is there free will?

A:
And the answer is that it doesn’t interfere with their free will. When it says that He fashions their hearts, it means He gives them certain incentives as reward or punishment. Now, when a man tries to do what’s right he gains incentives – Hashem rewards him with more opportunities. שכר מצוה מצוה — The reward for a good bechira, for choosing good, is another opportunity for bechira. He’ll be given new opportunities to do mitzvos. And if a man chooses to do something wrong, Hakodosh Boruch Hu gives him opportunities to do other wrong things.

But either way, he is the one who starts the ball rolling and he can always stop. If he wishes to make an effort, he can stop that process. So the principle still stands that Hakodosh Boruch Hu does not interfere in man’s free will.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Free Will and Hashem’s Will

Rav Avigdor Miller on Planting in America
Q:
Should we trust that Moshiach is coming soon? Or should we continue planting anyhow?

A:
Now what you mean by planting, I don’t know. If you mean planting in your garden, go ahead. Do you mean building institutions? Go ahead! I recall, almost forty-five years ago, I was at a banquet in Boston, and a Mizrachi gadol was speaking there – it happened to be my business to be there, I couldn’t help it. One of the biggest leaders of the Mizrachi was speaking; I won’t mention his name because he’s long dead. And he said, “You American Jews are making a great error by building big synagogues and yeshivos in America. Go to Eretz Yisroel and build,” he said. “That’s the only place that has any future.”

That was forty-five years ago. In those days there was no Lakewood yet, there was no Chaim Berlin, no Mirrer Yeshiva, no Torah Vodaas, no Tiferes Yerushalayim – there was nothing except for YU. And he was telling the world then that it doesn’t pay to build in America. It’s so silly what he said! During those years, from then till now, a whole generation grew up of beis yaakovs and yeshivos; a glorious young generation.

So even if Moshiach will come tomorrow, you start tonight building a yeshiva or contributing to a yeshiva – don’t worry about what will happen. Don’t worry what will happen! You’ll get reward for your good intentions anyhow. So Moshiach has nothing to do with our plans; we have to go ahead with all of our plans. And not only plans to build a yeshiva, even plans to make a nice garden. Springtime is coming; it’s a good idea, go make a nice garden in your backyard. If Moshiach will come before the garden has a time to develop, so what! You’ll still go to Eretz Yisroel b’rinah, with singing. Who cares what will happen — we’ll sing in Eretz Yisroel; there are good gardens there too. You can paint your homes in America too. Of course, don’t go all out and spend all your money in beautifying your homes, but you can have decent homes, you can make a good living and you can enjoy life. Don’t worry about it; if Moshiach comes it won’t be held against you.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Planting in America

Rav Avigdor Miller on Admiring X-mas Lights
Q:
Is there anything wrong with admiring the colorful lights that the our non-Jewish neighbors hang up during their holiday season?

A:
It’s very wrong to admire anything that is in any way connected to avodah zarah. Of course it’s wrong! תזרם כמו דוה – “You should throw it away like something that is unclean” (Yeshaya 30:22). It’s disgusting. And even if you don’t think so, you must tell yourself that it’s disgusting. You must train yourself to think properly. The lights are disgusting. Chas ve’shalom to admire the lights.

I don’t want to talk in public about what they’re celebrating, but it’s one of the most shameful things in history. A child was born from a woman who said, “It’s not from my husband.” Disgusting! He was born from a woman who said, “I admit, it’s not from my husband.” And they want to celebrate it with lights?!!

Rav Avigdor Miller on Admiring X-mas Lights

Rav Avigdor Miller on Hitting Big Boys and Little Girls
Q:
The gemara says that a father shouldn’t hit a son that is older. What age is that?
A:
It’s forbidden to hit a grown son because you might cause him to hit back, and that would be a big sin that you brought about. Or it could be you might cause him to do something else. At what age does this prohibition apply? It depends. It depends on the style, the culture of the day. It depends on the country where you live. If you can bring up your children to accept parental authority, then it can continue for some time; and the fact is you wouldn’t have to use any chastisement after a certain age because big children already respond to other forms of mussar. But exactly when you must stop chastising children, that’s something you’ll have to play by ear.
TAPE # 356

Q:
Is it proper for a father to hit girls as well as boys?
A:
Certainly! Girls need instruction and although in many cases they don’t require as much treatment as boys, but certainly a slap once in a while is a medicine for girls. Now, this I have on good authority. There was a man who was on the administration of a girls’ seminary and he said to me that girls have to be chastised too; it’s important to chastise girls. And he said to me, anybody who punishes a girl is doing a favor to her future chosson.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Hitting Big Boys and Little Girls

Rav Avigdor Miller on Music is a Motor for the Soul
Q:
Some people say that there’s a certain power in music. Is that the case?

A:
And the answer is that it’s absolutely true. Although music per se, music by itself, is nothing at all but if it’s utilized for an ideal it becomes a powerful motor to help you arrive at your destination. Now, suppose a man has a motor, an excellent motor. It turns over, let’s say, so many and so many revolutions per second — it’s performance is the smoothest there is. Only that the motor doesn’t have any belt that connects it to the wheels! So it accomplishes nothing! The spinning is useless; it’s a complete waste of energy.

Music is only important if it’s connected to an ideal. So if you do like Reb Yisroel Salanter did in his days when he started the study of mussar and he introduced the practice of saying: יסוד החסידות ושורש העבודה התמימה הוא שיתברר ויתאמת אצל האדם מה חובתו בעולמו מה חובתו בעולמו – The foundation of all piety and the root of the perfect service of Hashem is that one should recognize what is his duty here in this world, what is his duty here in this world; and then they started off singing to themselves, מה חובתו בעולמו, מה חובתו בעולמו – “What is my duty in this world? What is my duty in this world?” That’s what they did in the old yeshivahs at the instigation of Rebbe Yisroel Salanter. They learned mussar with a niggun – it was a sad, pensive, meditative niggun; and that was a way of using music and it began to enter your heart. מה חובתו בעולמו – “What is your duty in this world?” And they said it about fifteen times over and over again, and they said it with a tune. Then it pierces the shell of your heart, your hard–armored heart and it comes into the softness of the heart and you begin to think, “Actually, what is my duty in this world?”

So music, when it’s utilized for mussar, when it’s utilized for avodas Hashem, absolutely it’s an excellent expedient. And that’s why Dovid Hamelech when the spirit moved him and the ruach hakodesh came upon him and he said ברכי נפשי את השם, so he took out his harp and the harp helped him begin to ascend on the wings of music to the heights of perfection of the soul.

But when music is used for, “Your eyes,” and “Your lips,” and your this and your that and how I miss you, and all the rest of the garbage, so the Kuzari says that means that the music which once was used for the service of Hakodosh Boruch Hu has now become the play thing of the maidservants and the boys in the street. The Kuzari said that almost a thousand years ago. And it has deteriorated since then. Originally however, there’s no question that music was intended to assist in the elevation of the spirit.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Music is a Motor for the Soul

Rav Avigdor Miller on Belittling Yourself
Q:
How can someone know if he’s really gaining excellence as the result of his service of Hashem and his good deeds, or maybe he’s deluding himself – maybe just deceiving himself into believing that he is becoming better?

A:
There’s only one way to work that out – and that’s to always belittle yourself, to consider yourself a nobody. And so you’ll remember that even when Moshe Rabeinu was already on that high level of reflecting all the great things of the perfection of his soul; the level of תמונת השם יביט – seeing the form of Hashem, still Moshe Rabbeinu said ונחנו מה – Who are we? What am I? The gemara says Moshe considered himself even less than Avraham Avinu. Avraham said at least that he’s dust and ashes. ואנכי עפר ואפר – I am dust and ashes (Bereishis 18:27). But Moshe Rabbeinu said ונחנו מה – We’re nothing at all.

So Moshe Rabbeinu was always on the safe side – no matter how great he was, he said he’s nothing. So if your neshama is reflecting right now some ruach hakodosh, then don’t advertise it. Because that’s a pretty good sign that it’s not the real thing. Anybody who claims he can accomplish miracles, it’s a pretty good sign he’s far away from miracles. The man who works miracles is a man who doesn’t know that he can work miracles.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Belittling Yourself

Rav Avigdor Miller on Clean Jewish Homes

Q:
Should religious Jews be careful to have neat and clean homes?

A:
Now pay attention to what I’m going to tell you now. This subject you must understand as follows. But don’t be prejudiced by what I’m going to tell you in the beginning. There was an Ilse Kuch. Ilse Kuch, y’mach sh’mah, was a famous Nazi woman. And in the concentration camps, she used to walk around with a whip and she would beat the dying inmates. She was called The Beast of Buchenwald. If you want a picture of one of the lowest characters in history, that’s it.

Now at her trial, there were Germans who spoke up for Ilse Kuch and defended her. And what did they say in her defense? They said that her kitchen is spotless! And I believe it; I’m sure it was. So keep that in mind while I give you the answer now. That was the introduction to the answer.

Now, if you’re going to have a Jewish house, it means you’re going to have children. And if you have children, it means one, two, three, four, five, six; various ages. And in a house full of children, it’s not ‘near impossible’, it’s impossible to have a spick and span house. If you’re one of these women, one of these modern orthodox women who want to live a selfish life, so you’ll have one baby and then you’ll practice “spacing.” Until this baby is already an old man, and then you’ll have another one. So maybe that woman will succeed in having a nice clean house.

But if you’re not doing any spacing, if you’re trying to raise a Jewish generation, it’s impossible to expect such a thing. It’s only in these castles of selfishness, where people live only for themselves, so the house is nice and clean – because there is nobody there to make it dirty. That’s number one.

And the second thing is this. I was once in a Jewish house in Boro Park. And it was a house of love and warmth. Any wayfarer who would knock on the door at night and say, “I have no place to sleep,” they wouldn’t ask any questions. “Come in, there’s place here to sleep.” Now, if you have a fancy home, so you’ll think, “Maybe this man is filthy; maybe he’s a bearer of bedbugs.” How can you let him sleep on your nice bed? You’ll let him into your bathroom?! He’ll contaminate your nice toilet seat. It’s hard for a nice ba’al habus to let a stranger into his fancy and clean home. So he says, “Go someplace else; go to the rabbi. Go to this one or go to that one.” He sends him away to the rabbi.

The Bostoner Rebbe, in Boston, he has a big house. And anybody who wants can find lodging there – and food too. You walk into the house during the day, two o’clock in the afternoon, there’s a man eating breakfast. He slept late, so he’s eating breakfast. Nobody bothers him. The people in the house know that’s the Rebbi’s system. You walk in and they have a place to sleep for you always; there’s always something to eat.

How could it be fancy, such a house? It can’t a spick and span house if people are always coming in, going out, coming in, going out. Even if you have fine guests, they bring in their baggage all over the floor. If your home is a place of hachnosas orchim, a place of hospitality, then it can’t be fancy.

Now, in this home that I was in, in Boro Park, it looked like they were moving. They weren’t moving; but everything was in wrong place. And that’s because there were children all over the place. They had little children all over the place. You can’t always give a child rubber diapers. He leaves an impression sometimes. And there were always guests in that place, wayfarers. Here’s a meshulach, drinking a glass of tea. And the mother of the house, as soon as she finishes preparing the tea, she has to make lunch for somebody. She’s packing up a lunch. She can’t take care of everything. So she’s taking care of her children and the meshulachim instead of cleaning the walls. And therefore, we’re seeing here that if it’s a house of raising children, and a house of hospitality, then it’s next to impossible that it should be clean and neat all the time.

And now, a third thing; something else. If you’re poor, if you don’t invest a lot of money into your house, it’s going to be shabby. Now, don’t tell me this fairy tale, poor but clean.’ A shabby house is shabby! The linoleum is worn through! And if the linoleum is worn through and there’s a big hole in the linoleum, don’t tell me that you get down on your knees three times a day and scrub out the hole. Dust accumulates in that hole and that’s it. There’s a nail sticking out where the linoleum used to be. It’s impossible!

I once walked into the house of Rav Aron Kotler, zichrono l’vracha. Now, I’m not an expert on a neat house, so I’m not judging its neatness. But it was a poor house, a very poor house. And because of that Rav Aron rose in my eyes all the way up. I saw that he didn’t take the money from the Yeshiva and spend it on expensive things. He lived poorly. He lived very poorly. He gave the money to the boys in the Yeshiva who were hungry. There were poor boys who needed it.

So if you want to have a spick and span home, that means that you’ll invest in this world instead of the next world. Instead of charity, you’re buying things for yourself, for the house, expensive things. Don’t bother telling me this fairy tale of ‘poor but clean.’ It means expensive! It means investing a lot of money, besides for investing a lot of time.

Now, certainly it’s good to have a clean home. Certainly. But anybody who’s criterion of the quality of people in the home, is if the home is clean or not, that person is a fool; he’s an idiot. Why do I say that? Because he’s a goy. He has the head of a goy. You know that there are some goyim who every day they go to the cleaners. Cleaners tell me that. Their best customers are the … ! Why are the … the best customers? They’re the cleanest people; every day they’re cleaning their clothing! Because they have no ideals in life. So all they know is that they want to be clean and smell good. Besides, goyim, I’m sorry to say, have more occasion to unbutton themselves, to expose themselves, than others people have. Decent people are covered up all the time. But they’re in contact all the time, males and females, and so they want to smell the best that they can. So they bathe twice a day.

And therefore, are we going to emulate animals?! We live for the purpose of spiritual achievement, for being kindly, serving Hashem, doing mitzvos. Certainly, the gemara says that the house of a talmid chochom is well ordered. Certainly! Everything should be in place. Certainly everything should be mesudar; everything should be neat. But the question is where is it on the list of virtues? So along came some goy with a new Torah that cleanliness is next to you know what. And the Jews swallow this bait and they repeat the same thing. You know, people who say “Cleanliness is next to G-dliness” they are the people who hold that G-dliness is meaningless. It’s a hundred percent rule.

So in answer to your question: Should the homes of religious Jews be neat and clean? Absolutely. But we have another question: Should the homes of religious Jews be full of little children? And should religious Jews and their homes be hospitable to the poor and needy? There’s a home not far from here, and to that home a man once came; an old man who never married. He has no home, no family. So they let him in. He slept there one night and he said, “Can I sleep here a little longer?” So they let him stay a little longer. He’s been sleeping there for ten years already. Ten years! He’s been sleeping and eating for ten years in this home! Not far from here. I’ll tell you privately where it is. And he’s an old man, a demanding man. For breakfast, if you make for him his eggs not exactly the way he wants it, he tells the balabusteh. And she and her husband take it, and they take it more. It’s ten years of taking it! Now, if you have an old bachelor at home and he sleeps in your living room or wherever, and he eats whenever he wants in your kitchen, it can’t be so fancy.

I’ll tell you another story on this subject of neat and clean. Once, a young man called me up from Grand Central Station. It was eleven o’clock at night. “What do you want?” I asked. “Are you Rabbi Miller?” he asked, “The one who wrote Rejoice O’ Youth?” So I said, “Yes.” He tells me that he came from a city in the Midwest and he read my book and he decided he wants to visit me. I said, “But it’s eleven o’clock at night! And it’ll take you another hour to get here! ” He says he has no place else to go. I said “Do you have money?” “No, I have no money.” So what can I do? He read my book. So he came to me. So it’s twelve o’clock at night – and I go to sleep early, mind you – and he comes waltzing into my house. He comes with duffel bags, and all kinds of stuff. He’s here to stay! I took a look and I saw nit gut, it’s not good. I thought to myself, “Tonight, one night, OK.” So he slept in my house.

You see I’m not that kind of Jew. I’m talking about good Jews! So the next morning I called up one of our people in the shul who had a car and I said to him, “Take this young man with all of his stuff to the Satmerer Beis Hamedrash, and leave him there. Right in the middle of the beis hamedrash and don’t worry about him.” I knew the Satmerer; I knew he’d be taken care of.

So he took him with all his duffel bags and his suitcase and everything else and he took him and he parked him in the Satmerer Beis Hamedrash in Williamsburg. A few minutes later a Polish Jew comes along – he davened there in the Satmerer shteibel – and started talking to him. Now this boy couldn’t speak a word of Yiddish, and this man could barely speak English. But they understood each other. It’s called “the language of the needy man.” He needs a place to eat and sleep. So he took him to his house and he kept him for two weeks! It was hot; it was summertime. This was before the were air conditioners in the homes. His wife called me up finally. She says there’s a stranger in her house; she can’t take off her coat and she has to wear a sheitel all the time. She can’t; it’s very uncomfortable. There’s a strange man in the house.

And they kept him for longer than two weeks however. He remained. They didn’t put him out on the street. For nothing by the way; nobody paid them anything. And finally another Jew, a Williamsburger Jew, took him in hand and took him into his home, and he found him a job, and a place to eat for Shabbos. And for years he suffered from him. He suffered from him; he wasn’t an easy fellow, this ba’al teshuva.

And so these are the people whose homes are not “neat and clean” enough?! At least you can get into their homes! Their homes are sanctuaries! If you want a neat and clean home, I’ll tell you what you should do. Try coming without money to, let’s say, Scarsdale. Spend your last nickel on car fare to Scarsdale and show up there at nine-thirty at night or ten o’clock at night. And knock on doors. And say, “I have no money. Can you give me some food and a place to sleep?” Now, I’m sure that the Scarsdale homes are fancy. There might be maids too. But they won’t even open the door to you. They might even call the police.

And so, there are different ways of looking at this subject. So if you have a lot of children spilling out all over the place, and you have a guest sprawled on the sofa, and to you’re trying with a broom and a brush to do the best that you can, so your house is the neatest and cleanest house that could be.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Clean Jewish Homes

Rav Avigdor Miller on Where is the Center of the Universe
Q:
Rabbi, do you really believe that the earth is the center of the universe?

A:
Absolutely. And I’ll tell you why. The word “center” in our context means what’s the most important place; that’s the center of the universe. Look, there’s no place in the universe besides earth that has life on it. Of course, NASA is wasting millions of our tax dollars trying to find life on other planets. But it’s a waste; they won’t find life anywhere else. Life is only on this earth.

Sir John Eccles said that there are so many details necessary for the preservation of life, that it’s impossible that it should occur anywhere else. There are so many complicated factors and intricate details and you require every single one of them. If even one of them was missing then you couldn’t have life on this earth. And so it’s only on this earth that you’ll find life. And therefore this earth is where Hashem’s attention is mostly concentrated. That’s why this earth is the center of the universe. Who cares geographically where it is?! That’s not important at all!

I could tell you anyways that there’s no such thing as the geographical center. According to Einstein, the universe is in constant flux. There is no such thing as the center – it’s all moving. The sun is supposedly moving at 45,000 miles an hour. There’s no such thing as the center of the universe. And therefore the only criterion for centrality of the universe is what Hakodosh Boruch Hu considers most important. And Hakodosh Boruch Hu said, בראשית ברא אלוקים את השמים. Shamayim means space. He made all of space. ואת הארץ, and He made this earth. This little tiny earth. He made the whole gigantic universe – and this little globe. It seems ridiculous. It’s like saying, “I came to visit New York City – and I went into a candy store to see the candy.” New York and a candy store?! The universe and the earth?! How can we compare the two in one possuk?

The answer is that He created the universe, but the entire universe is nothing because He created the universe just for this little earth. That’s what ואת הארץ means. And in the next possuk, והארץ היתה תוהו, Hashem ignores the universe entirely. Forget about the universe, now He’s only talking about this earth. From now on it’s only this earth that matters. And after a few parshiyos Hakodosh Boruch Hu starts ignoring the earth and He’s talking only about Avraham Avinu. That’s all that Hakodosh Boruch Hu is interested in.

And therefore, the question is: Is Avraham Avinu the center of the world?! There were many great empires in his time and the Torah doesn’t talk about them unless it’s in relation to the the family of Avraham. Is Avraham the only one that matters? And the answer is, Yes! Wherever he is, he’s the most important one.

So the Jewish Nation – yes, we’re the center of the globe. Wherever the globe is in the universe and wherever we are on the globe – it makes no difference. Because wherever the Jews are, they’re at the center. So the Jews in Flatbush – they’re the center of the universe. The Jews in Boro Park – they’re the center of the universe. The Jews in Meah She’arim – they’re the center of the universe. Wherever the Jews are, they’re at the center. Because Hakodosh Boruch Hu’s shechina rests only upon them.

ושכנתי בתוך בני ישראל – I will dwell among the Bnei Yisroel. And where Hashem dwells, that’s the center! That’s what matters in the universe. Now, of course, Hashem is supervising everything. Everything! It’s all going according to His masterplan. But where is the place where Hakodosh Boruch Hu puts his finger and says, “That’s My place”? Only among the Bnei Yisroel. ושכנתי בתוך בני ישראל.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Where is the Center of the Universe

Rav Avigdor Miller on How to Console the Mourner
Q:
What is the best consolation to give someone who is sitting shiva, lo aleichim v’lo aleinu?

A:
To console people, the best thing is to come and show yourself. That’s the consolation. Just by honoring him by coming, that’s already a consolation.

Now, if it’s somebody who’s really broken up, then you have to use words that are suited to the occasion. But you cannot give one prescription that suits everybody. If a person is of a philosophical bent of mind, so you talk to him about Olam Habah and about this world being only a temporary place; you can talk about how a man who deserves reward was taken by Hakodosh Boruch Hu to Gan Eden, and he’s being now treated to all the great promises that Hakodosh Boruch Hu promised to those who serve Him. Whatever it is, there are ways and means of consoling each person according to his seichel.

Some people are obtuse; they’re not intelligent so you can’t tell them anything. So all you can say is, “Vusmachstu cousin Jake?” That’s all you can say. Now, vusmachstu you shouldn’t say because that’s sh’eilas shalom, it’s a greeting (see Yoreh Dei’ah 385:1), but you speak to him about mundane ordinary things, and that’s the only consolation you can give a man without any brains. So it all depends according to his seichel.

Rav Avigdor Miller on How to Console the Mourner

Rav Avigdor Miller on How to Marry
Q:
What would you say to people who claim they want to get married but are very picky and always saying no?

A:
Now, this is a very important subject and I don’t have much time to talk about it, but I’ll say it briefly. Marriage must be viewed just the same as buying a house. When you buy a house, you’re willing to pay the agent $5,000 sometimes, a commission. A shadchan deserves a commission. And you must think in terms of utility. You cannot live with romantic ideas. Of course, if you have two that are exactly the same with all the conditions you are looking for, then the one that you prefer, you take. But a man should not marry because of romance. He should marry on the strength of health, on the strength of character, on the strength of dei’os – what is the person’s attitude towards family, towards shmiras hamitzvos, towards luxuries – that should be the criterion.

The very least criterion is sympathy of ideas. Don’t think your wife is going to share your ideas, forget about it! נשים עם בפני עצמן הן – Women are a separate nation. When you get married your wife has her ideas what to do in the house, and you have your dreams about the beis medrash or your business, or whatever you have to do. A man once told me he wanted to marry this girl because they’ll walk hand in hand together all their lives, which means he’s living a bubbah maaseh! You cannot walk hand in hand. Each person has his or her duties in life.

So you have to marry in a practical way. I remember, many years ago I was in Slabodka, and I saw how two families came together to negotiate a shidduch. Who came? The bubbahs of both sides! The chosson and kallah weren’t even there. The bubbahs came, with their big black shabbosdikeh dresses, and they sat facing each other, and they were discussing vus vet zain, what’s going to be, how they will make a living. They were talking practical ways, and they came to an agreement. It was interesting to see; it was like a meeting of two Secretaries of State! The bubbahs were deciding the shidduch! And that’s how all the shidduchim took place among, lehavdil, the goyim too.

That’s why, in the olden days when they married, they remained married. But suppose he married because he sniffs the perfume and that’s why he married her; so he’ll discover later that the perfume is not natural! Therefore, it’s very important to be practical. And to remain unmarried for a long time means the longer you wait, the more you spoil. You’re not wine; you won’t become more delicious by waiting longer!

Rav Avigdor Miller on How to Marry

Rav Avigdor Miller on Olam Habah
Q:
The Rav said that we should get into the habit of always thinking about Olam Habah. Can the Rav maybe describe what Olam Habah will be like? How should we try to imagine it in our minds?

A:
Look, we do not really know in what way we are going to enjoy Olam Habah. We can’t know. It’s like a blind man – a man who was born blind – and we try to explain to him how beautiful the red rose is. He doesn’t know what red means. So how could he understand? So, we have no way of knowing. I wasn’t there yet, so I can’t tell you.

But this we do know — we know that there is no pleasure on this earth that can even faintly compare to the happiness of Olam Habah. That at least, I can tell you. And the happiness becomes greater and greater the longer you are there. The longer you are there, the more the happiness increases. That’s an important principle.

And therefore, we have to always know, always remember, that we are in this world only for the purpose of preparing for Olam Habah. Everything you do has to be directed at Olam Habah. Everything!

I know that you’re not going to listen to me, but you have to know that this is your only purpose in this world. It’s something that you have to work on. You’re not going to become an Olam Habah person unless you put effort into becoming an Olam Habah person. And that means putting all your thoughts into Olam Habah. And you have to start somewhere. So start by thinking about Olam Habah for a few minutes every day. You want to make something out of yourself, don’t you?!

If you sing to Hashem in this world, then you’ll be able to sing to Him even more in the World to Come. So learn how to sing while you’re here. למה ניגע לריק – Why should you spend so much time and effort in this world for nothing? So practice up here, in order that you should be able to sing in the World to Come.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Olam Habah

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Foolish Smoker
Q:
There are some who want to say that if someone smokes so he’ll be protected from danger based on the possuk of שומר פתאים השם – that Hashem guards the foolish ones (Tehillim 116:6). What do you say about that?

A:
That statement שומר פתאים השם means that Hashem guards the people who are persuaded because they don’t know any better. The word pesi, means someone who is persuaded. I’ll give you an example of a pesi. When King Louis XIV of France was ill, so he had the very best physicians in Europe caring for him. So what did they do? They took melted pearls and poured it down his throat. Melted pearls was considered by the doctors to be the best medicine in those days. And so, the very best physicians came into heal King Louis XIV and they melted pearls and they poured the melted pearls down his throat. And they killed him – he died from that. He was a pesi; that’s what people believed in those days. When people don’t know, so Hashem says, “I’m going to help most people who are persuaded to do foolish things; there will be a general shmira on the people who are doing things that are dangerous if it’s not known that there’s a danger.”

But when you know, then you have to be careful. That’s why in the olden days, when people smoked, so people didn’t know how harmful smoking was, and therefore the results were not so evident. But today when we know that smoking is dangerous – even on the package itself it tells you that it’s dangerous, so you’re not called a pesi – you’re just a meshugener. It says on the package that it’s dangerous for your health and he’s puffing away! He’s meshugener, that’s all! And therefore it’s not שומר פתאים השם anymore. Hashem will only guard people who are not to blame. And if you smoke, so you’re to blame – you’re not learning, you’re not listening. Anybody who ignores good advice, he’s no longer a pesi. He’s a meizid and it’s his own fault whatever happens to him.

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Foolish Smoker

Rav Avigdor Miller on How Important Learning Gemara is

Q:
If the Rav is always telling us that we have to subjugate ourselves to the gedolim who have the da’as Torah that comes from learning, why do we ourselves have to bother learning Gemara in depth and become lamdanim?

A:
Listen to me. You know that in order to understand what your doctor is telling you, you must have some minimal level of education. You don’t have to be a big scholar but at least you have to know English. If your doctor is speaking at least a medium level cultured English, you’re going to have to understand what he’s saying.

And therefore when gedolim speak to us we must be able to understand, to appreciate what they’re telling us. And if we are not well-versed in Torah learning it becomes meaningless because we are speaking a different language. The am ha’aretz does not speak the same language as an adom gadol speaks. And that’s a very important yesod.

If you haven’t learned Mesichta Gittin you really have no idea of the necessity of a get. So you’ll say that you know all about it — there’s a civil divorce and there’s a get, a Jewish divorce. No, actually it means nothing to you. For you, a Jewish divorce is just another thing, another ceremony. It’s only when you learn Mesichta Gittin that you internalize that a civil divorce is nothing at all and that without a get she is an eishes ish. She’s just as married as she was when she stood under the chuppah. Even if she hasn’t seen her husband in forty years she’s still an eishes ish and she’s guilty of a capital crime if she goes with another man.

All this, to the am ha’aretz, is very vague. He can appreciate it to some extent but if he hasn’t learned, it’s very vague. But when you learn Mesichta Gittin it hits you between the eyes.

If you didn’t learn Mesichta Yevamos then chalitzah is just a ceremony. It’s like saying Av Harachamim on Shabbos morning – sometimes you skip it. Without Mesichta Yevamos it’s all very vague. There are a lot of people here who did not learn and it’s all a vague thing to them. I remember in my old synagogue, there was a woman whose husband died. This woman was active in the Sisterhood, in the Ladies Auxiliary, and she married her dead husband’s brother. She had children from her first husband and she married her husband’s brother! And – nothing! Nothing! Now, in a decent organization they would have taken her and dumped her in the street. You can’t marry your dead husband’s brother! If you have children from your first husband then it’s like marrying your own brother. Kares! But go and tell this to the amei ha’aretz – they can hear it vaguely, yes – but she’s still in the Sisterhood. This means that they are beheimahs. They don’t talk the language of Torah.

You have to learn – otherwise the language of the Torah is meaningless to you. You must learn – and you must learn Gemara. Not like one man said to me, “We’re not Gemara buffs.” Gemara buffs?! What?! Like, you don’t collect old coins or you don’t collect stamps you also don’t learn Gemara?! Gemara is not a hobby; it’s our life breath. We learn Gemara because that is the air we breathe.

If you don’t learn Gemara you know what you are? You’re an ox! You’re mamish a beheima. That’s what you are without Gemara. And don’t tell me about other things you learn, moral teachings, seforim. If you don’t learn Gemara then you and your family are called beheimahs. And anyone who marries your daughter it says about him in the Gemara, ארור שוכב עם בהמה. If you marry the daughter of an am ha’aretz, it’s like you’re living with a beheima. Their wives and daughters are called the wives and daughters of beheimahs. It’s important to know that. Jews always knew this! You must breathe Gemara. That’s our life!

So how can a gadol talk to you if you’re still in the stable. You’re eating oats and you’re braying and a gadol will knock on the stable door and say, “Listen to this.” So you bray and he talks. It’s totally different languages. I have experience in this. I’ve spoken to people and they don’t even begin to understand what I’m talking about. It’s only when you’re a lamdan, at least in Gemara, that you’re able to communicate with the gedolim and appreciate and understand what they’re telling you

Rav Avigdor Miller on How Important Learning Gemara is

Rav Avigdor Miller on Love at First Sight
Q:
Is it true that when the right one comes along it will be love at first sight?

A:
It’s definitely not true. You have to know that Hakodosh Boruch Hu has prepared one wrongs too. And many times the wrong one comes along first. So you have to make sure it will be love at first sight and second sight and third sight. And the truth is that it shouldn’t be your sight you’re relying on. The best way to look at your future kallah is through the eyes of your mother or your aunt. As your aunt looks at the kallah she sees her. You don’t see her: you see her hair, all puffed up. But your mother and your aunt see the kallah. And that’s very important.

And that’s why in the olden days the women used to make the shidduchim. They knew this and this girl; that’s the right one. They knew her character. But the boy doesn’t know anything about her character. He just sees a nose, he sees the painted eyelashes, he sees the paint on the lips, and he is captured! And therefore, the first time is meaningless.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Love at First Sight

Rav Avigdor Miller on Bris Invitations
Q:
Why don’t we invite people to a bris milah, if we invite them to other simchas like a wedding, a pidyon ha’ben and so on?

A:
It’s a custom not to invite to a bris because they might not come; and to snub an invitation to a bris is a serious thing. That’s because a bris is a demonstration that you don’t find in a wedding, or a pidyon haben or anywhere else. A bris is a demonstration of the relationship between us and Hashem, of the covenant between us and Hakodosh Boruch Hu – that’s what it is. And therefore if somebody invites you, you’d better come.

And therefore the minhag is, better not to invite people because you’re making trouble for them; it’s very serious — Eliyahu Hanavi is snubbed if you don’t come to his party. That’s how important a bris is – it’s a very big celebration of the the first covenant between Avraham and Hakodosh Boruch Hu and it’s a bris olam – it’s an eternal covenant. And therefore if you’re invited, it’s just too bad – you have to show up and participate in this great demonstration.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Bris Invitations

Rav Avigdor Miller on Thanksgiving
Q:
What is your opinion about celebrating the holiday of Thanksgiving tonight with a turkey dinner?

A:
Thanksgiving is a holiday that was manufactured by gentiles for the purpose of going to church. That’s what the original purpose was. And therefore it’s avoda zara and Jews are forbidden to participate in such a thing. If you eat turkey especially for Thanksgiving, you’re an oveid avoda zara. That’s my opinion.

Now, some people are weak in this matter; but I think it’s real avoda zara; I think it’s יהרג ואל יעבור. I think a Jew shouldn’t eat turkey on Thanksgiving at all! He should make a sacrifice not to eat turkey. Because it’s a Christian observance you understand. It’s not a legal holiday alone. It’s only recently that it became a ‘legal holiday.’ But it used to be a Christian holiday and that’s what it is, all the way down till today.

So what happens? In a Beit Hakisei called Sha’arei Torah, on Arbermyle Road — there’s a toilet there called Sha’arei Torah; so today they had a special service there; they had there a Jewish so-called rabbi, and a reform rabbi and a priest and a minister. A whole mishmash of Christianity and so on. That’s what comes when Jews start going after the idolatry of the gentiles.

Q:
But isn’t that only if eating turkey has religious symbolism?

A:
No, this is the halacha: it doesn’t have to have religious symbolism. As long as it’s connected with this holiday and the holiday has religious symbolism, that’s enough to make it forbidden. There’s a gemara that says it’s forbidden to wear laurel leaf on the day of a certain gentile avoda zara. Now, laurel has no religious significance. But because the gentiles wear laurel on that day, it’s forbidden.

However, like I told you earlier there’s somebody who permits it, and even though I say it’s all wrong, I’m not going to force my opinion on you. But if anybody in my synagogue would ask me such a question, I would give it to him. But since you’re not in my synagogue, so I’ll let you go.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Thanksgiving

Rav Avigdor Miller on Watching Your Children
Q:
How strict should parents be with their children?

A:
It’s like saying, how much attention should parents give to their children? Everything depends on the circumstances. It’s impossible to give any prescriptions, but in general parents must supervise their children. They must keep an eye on their children. Boys and girls in the same house must be watched constantly. Constantly! They shouldn’t know you’re watching them, but you should chaperone them constantly.

And it’s very unwise to leave children alone in the house – especially boys and girls. Always chaperone your children. They shouldn’t know you’re watching them though – it’s unhealthy that they should think you’re suspecting them, but keep your eyes on them. Things do take place and parents sometimes are shocked to discover. So keep your eyes on your children.

Where is your child when he walks out on the street? Especially when it’s dark. Younger children should be in the house after dark—even older children. You must train your child to be willing to reveal to you and be open with you. Where were you when you went out on the street tonight? And everybody must come home by a certain hour – no question. Just to wander on the street is out of the question! Where are you going? There must be specific answers; a certain destination. “I’m going to Chaim’s house,” or “I’m going to Rivka’s house to do homework.” And you have to find out who Chaim and Rivka are because the friends are very important.

So therefore, instead of saying strictness, we’ll ask it like this: How much supervision should parents give to their children? And the answer is, without any hesech hada’as. They shouldn’t remove their minds from their children at all! At all times they should be thinking about their children and watching them. But the children should not know that their parents are on guard and that they’re under surveillance.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Watching Your Children

Rav Avigdor Miller on Davening With a Minyan
Q:
Is there anything wrong with davening without a minyan as long as I say kriyas shema in the right time?

A:
Let me explain to you what I’ve said before. When you daven with a minyan you’re identifying with the Klal Yisroel. You know, our tefillos are all plural. We don’t say, רפאני השם – Heal me, Hashem; We say, רפאנו השם – Heal us. And we say ברוך אתה השם רופא חולי עמו ישראל. We daven for all of the cholei Yisroel. That’s such an important element and it must be emphasized. It’s a form of identifying with the Am Yisroel – we are together; we’re all one.

Even when you put on your hat in the morning and you make the bracha עוטר ישראל בתפארה – Thank You Hashem for crowning Yisroel with glory, or when you put on a belt and you say אוזר ישראל בגבורה – You crown Yisroel with power. Girding a belt gives you power; it’s a sign of strength. So you see that you mention Yisroel, Yisroel, Yisroel. You’re identifying with your people – we’re all together.

And therefore, when it comes to tefillah, not only the words should show togetherness but physically you should be together. The least you can do is go to a minyan. The minyan represents the Klal Yisrael. To a certain extent, the Shechina is there too and you’re joining in with the Am Yisroel. But when you daven in your home, that’s a demonstration that you’re not interested in identifying.

Now, in case you’re not able to, in case you have to go to work at a certain time, so there are extenuating circumstances; but there’s no question that davening with a minyan ought to be a regular part of a loyal Jew’s routine because it’s an important form of showing he belongs to Hakodosh Boruch Hu by means of identifying with those people who are gathering together to serving Him.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Davening With a Minyan

Rav Avigdor Miller on How to Nag
Q:
How does one encourage a husband or a child without becoming just an ordinary nag?

A:
And the answer is that חכמת נשים בנתה ביתה – It is the wisdom of a woman that builds up her house. Now, that’s not an easy answer because you have to learn how to do it. You have to plan what you want to say. Sometimes you feel that you must say something on the spur of the moment. Don’t! Wait until you can say it with cunning. And many times you’ll accomplish what you wouldn’t have accomplished otherwise.

Sometimes you might want your husband to go out and learn in the beis medrash at night and he’s sitting with his feet up at the table reading a newspaper. That’s how he’s wasting his evenings. So you have to wait for an opportunity and you let pass a remark, “What a nice neighbor Mr. Cohen next door. I see he’s such a fine man; every night he goes out to learn in the beis medrash.” That’s all; don’t say any more than that. Just let those words sink in a little bit.

I’ll give you another suggestion as well. Sometimes when your husband does do one good thing, go out of your way to praise him. And that way you’ll give him incentive to do it again.

Whatever it is, you’ll have to find tactful ways because the frontal attack usually doesn’t succeed and it only causes irritation

Rav Avigdor Miller on How to Nag

Rav Avigdor Miller on Zionism
Q:
What should be our attitude towards Zionism?

A:
By this time, I think that our people here know the answer to that question. But to repeat: Zionism is a substitute for Judaism. It would be the same if someone began a movement, Tefillinism or Sukkaism. Anybody who emphasizes one thing is already under suspicion that he does not belong to the Torah Jews. And that’s because the Torah is composed of taryag mitzvos and when one chooses a single mitzvah and makes a big fuss about it, then we suspect him of intending to do away with the rest.

And that’s exactly what Zionism is. It’s an attempt to substitute nationalism for everything else – for mitzvos, for Torah and even for G-d himself. And therefore the great Zionists were — (the tape ended here, וחבל על דאבדן)

Rav Avigdor Miller on Zionism

Rav Avigdor Miller on Olam Habah for Goyim
Q:
If gentiles don’t have Olam Habah, then how can we criticize them for being interested in the gashmiyus and ta‘avos of this world?

A:
Olam Habah has more than one meaning. We have to know there’s such a thing as gentiles in the World to Come – there will be gentiles. But it doesn’t mean that they are going to be in the status of the צדיקים יושבים ועטרותיהם בראשיהם, tzaddikim who sit with the crowns on their heads. Tzaddikim who wore hats, who wore yarmulkas, who wore black hats, who wore shtreimlach, women with their heads covered, so Hashem is going to give them a crown on their heads: עתיד הקב”ה להיות עטרה בראש כל צדיק וצדיק – All the people who kept the Torah and were loyal, Hashem will give them a crown on their heads, a crown of glory, and they will sit with this crown and they’ll be נהנים מזיו השכינה – they’ll be enjoying the splendor of the Shechina.

Now, the gentiles won’t have that; there will be goyim only that they won’t be included in this great happiness. But they’ll have an existence; certainly it’s possible for them to exist. If a goy does what’s right, he certainly will be rewarded to some extent. Now, I am not able to tell you exactly what will be his matzav in nitzchiyus, his exact situation there, but אין הקב”ה מקפח שכר כל בריה – Hashem will not hold back reward of anybody. If a person lived with decency in this world, with righteousness, so Hakodosh Boruch Hu is not going to deny him a certain reward. He’s not promised what’s promised to the children of Avraham Avinu: אל תירא אברם שכרך הרבה מאד – Your reward is very great; that means Olam Habah for you and your children forever and ever. But anybody else who does good things, even a gentile, you should know that Hakodosh Boruch Hu will remember them and He will give them a reward according to what they deserve to get.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Olam Habah for Goyim

Rav Avigdor Miller on Emunah and Bitachon
Q:
What’s the difference between emunah and bitachon?

A:
Emunah and bitachon are related; however they are two separate things.

Bitachon means to know that Hakodosh Boruch Hu is in charge of the world. And especially that He’s in charge of the affairs of the Jewish people, and every Jew. הוא השם אלקינו – He’s ours, בכל הארץ משפטיו – and whatever He does in this world are His judgments as Elokeinu, as our Hashem.

Bitachon means awareness. Now I can’t tell you on one foot — it’s a very big subject — but bitachon means Hashem knows what is best for you. Many times something happens that you don’t like, but the truth is that it’s for your benefit. Many time you look back on your career, and you see things that happened, and at the moment you were disappointed, and later you discovered that it was essential for you, important for you. Knowing that Hakodosh Boruch Hu is doing only kindliness to you, that’s part of bitachon. So bitachon means that you make yourself aware of these truths, that you know them. And if you want to know, then you have to study it — it’s not so simple. You have to study the Sha’ar Habitachon in the Chovos Halevavos.

Of course, emunah comes in too because emunah means loyalty to the subject. Emunah means to be steadfast, to be loyal to the truths that you know. Once you gained bitachon, you have to be loyal to the bitachon. Emunah means being loyal to the principles that you learned and living life according to those principles.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Emunah and Bitachon

Rav Avigdor Miller on Getting Rid of the Local Movie Theater
Q:
What could we do about the filthy movie theater that is on Kings Highway?

A:
It’s a good question. I don’t know right now what to tell you but one small suggestion I could give. Every time you pass by, say a prayer that it should burn down quickly. That’s what I do. Only that I wait until I pass by the marquee so that it shouldn’t fall down on me. But as soon as I pass by, I pray to Hakodosh Boruch Hu that it should collapse quickly. If you have any other suggestions, then carry them out.

Q:
When we pass by a theater or another place that spreads immorality should we pray that it should burn down?

A:
What’s the question?! I don’t understand what the question is. Hakodosh Boruch Hu is soneh zimah, He hates immorality.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Getting Rid of the Local Movie Theater

Rav Avigdor Miller on Rav Meir Kahane
Q:
What do you say about Rav Meir Kahane?

A:
I’m not going to say much about him because I didn’t know him personally. But one thing I will say however. A shevach, a praise. I want to say one shevach about him.

He was the most outspoken critic of the Reform Jews who are plaguing the Jewish people here in America – and all over the world too. People don’t know that about him. He spoke against Reform Jews, against all the people who aren’t loyal to the Torah, more than anybody else. And that’s why he was hated. Don’t think he was hated so much because of his political views. He was hated by the establishment because he criticised the Reform and the Conservatives. He spoke so bitterly against them that it burned them up. And that’s a good thing! Nobody spoke up against the resha’im in the Am Yisroel like he did in the last forty-five years.

Q:
What can learn from the killing of Rav Meir Kahane?

A;
Now, it’s too soon to learn lessons from this event. But one thing we can learn לא ידע האדם את עתו – A man never knows his time (Koheles 9:12). One never knows when his time will come to leave this world.

Here’s a young man, in the middle of life, and death was the furthest thing from his mind. But in Koheles it tells us that we should think about that. לא ידע האדם את עתו כדגים הנאחזים במצודה – Man does not know his time; we are like fish suddenly caught in a trap (ibid.). And therefore every person must constantly think, ישוב היום, I’d better hurry up and do teshuva today. Every person should do teshuva immediately.

And don’t think that what I’m telling you is a small lesson. When a young man in perfect health dies so suddenly and tragically, then at least that lesson everybody should learn. At least that! There are other things to learn too. But this is the minimum lesson that we should all learn.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Rav Meir Kahane

Rav Avigdor Miller on Conforming To Others
Q:
The gemara states that a person shouldn’t be awake when others are asleep. But if this is so, why did Dovid Hamelech stay up at night learning and singing his Tehillim?

A:
There’s a statement someplace, not in the gemara, but there’s a statement someplace that you shouldn’t be awake among the sleeping. What it means is that when people are sleeping at night and you are walking in the streets, don’t make any noise! Don’t show others that you’re awake. It’s very bad manners when some people get up early in the morning and they stand on the street corner and yell across the street, “Hello Jerry! How are you doing?” And a lot of people who couldn’t sleep all night and just before morning they were finally able to doze off a little bit – it would save their lives if they could sleep that one hour before they have to get up. And all of a sudden this roughneck is standing on the corner, and he disregards everybody’s feelings and he wakes them up.

Now, there are a lot of gentiles – and Jews like gentiles – who stand in the street in the morning and shout and make noise, but even frum Jews sometimes make errors like that. If you’re walking down a sleeping street with someone, and you want to talk divrei Torah, then you must talk in a whisper. I was once walking with an elderly rabbi down a sleeping street and he was talking to me in a loud voice. I said “Shhh.” I said it once. I said it again, “Shhh.” But he didn’t catch on.

He never learned in those yeshivos where they spoke about it. He came maybe from the Hungarian yeshivos. I’m sure in Hungarian yeshivos they also taught good things, but I came from Lithuanian yeshivas where they spoke about these things all the time. Reb Yisroel Salanter said that if you steal sleep, you’re just as bad as any other thief – with one difference. You can’t fulfill the mitzvah of hashavas aveidah. You can’t return it.

And so, when people are asleep, don’t be awake among them – that means if you are awake, you don’t have to display it. Dovid Hamelech was awake when everyone else was asleep but he didn’t make any noise; he sat in his room and he studied Torah and he sang songs to Hakodosh Boruch Hu with his harp all night and he made sure not to cause anyone any discomfort.

In general what this means is that you shouldn’t be conspicuous. Try to conform with people. It doesn’t mean to follow the bad styles of wicked people — just because all the tramps wear frayed jeans, so you should also. No; there you have to have a backbone. You have to despise dumbells who have no brains and just follow the crowd. I’m not talking about that. But when you’re among decent people, don’t try to show that you are a v’tzidkascha, that you’re even more frum than they are.

Don’t be too conspicuous. If you want to be a tzadik, do it in a subdued way. The gemara is full of admonitions against things that are מחזי כיוהרא, things that look like conceit. Even though it’s not conceit – your intentions are pure — but it looks like conceit. So don’t show off. Don’t try to be different; try to be like everybody else, to conform. Like the gemara says, לעולם תהא דעתו של אדם מעורבת עם הבריות – A man’s mind should always be mixed – that means in agreement – with other people. It doesn’t mean you should yield your principles. By no means. But ostensibly, for appearance’s sake, show that you go along with people.

So let’s say you daven in a nusach Ashkenaz place and it’s Monday or Thursday don’t do the same thing you do in the nusach sefard place; don’t fall tachanun right after chazaratz hashatz. Say והוא רחום with the people and fall tachanun along with them. The man who falls tachanun before והוא רחום on Mondays and Thursdays is a mechutzaf, he has no derech eretz. The same is if you daven in a nusach sfard minyan, and its Monday and Thursday, and they fall tachanun before והוא רחום, do it along with them. The mechutzaf who comes into a Lithuanian shul and he says ויצמח פורקניה, he deserves to get a potch. Don’t do it, but he deserves it! He’s a mechutzaf. Because what would happen if he went to a chasidisheh minyan and he left out the ויצמח פורקניה? He would get one!

So wherever you are, you conform. You conform! If you want to say כגוונא while the people are saying במה מדליקין do it quietly. But don’t display it. Whatever you do, try to follow the minhag of that place, and that’s called derech eretz. And that’s one of the big principles of life: לעולם אל תהא ער בין השיניים ואל תהי ישן בין הערים – Don’t be awake among the sleeping, or asleep among those who are awake.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Conforming To Others

Rav Avigdor Miller on Missile Attacks in Eretz Yisroel
Q:
What should have been the proper reaction of the Jews in Tel-Aviv to the missile attacks this week?

A:
They should have huddled in their rooms in fear of Hashem, no question about it. It was a time to make an accounting. When a scud missle fell on Tel-Aviv, so the mayor of Tel-Aviv should have thought about what he said in defiance of the Orthodox Jews. The Orthodox Jews wanted to make a law that all places of amusement should be closed on Shabbos. So the mayor of Tel-Aviv said, “Nothing doing! In Tel-Aviv, I’ll see to it that every Friday night all these places, the cafes and the theaters will be open all night long.” So when the scud fell on Tel-Aviv, he should have said, he should have announced, “I changed my mind.” Because that’s the purpose!

You think that’s the end? I’m telling you, it’s only the beginning. Saadam Hussein is only the first shot in the great battle against the evil that holds sway in Eretz Yisroel. It’s only the first shot! Hashem is not finished at all. Hakodosh Boruch Hu sent a warning. But for people who refuse to listen, He might have to send another one.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Missile Attacks in Eretz Yisroel

Rav Avigdor Miller on Moving to Eretz Yisroel and Making a Parnasa
Q:
Should a kollel man settle in Eretz Yisroel in order to avoid the tumah of America?

A:
It depends on something that a rosh yeshiva from Eretz Yisroel once told me. A rosh yeshiva from Eretz Yisroel was once here about forty years ago and he told me the following: “It depends where you go in Eretz Yisroel. Certain places in Eretz Yisroel it’s the same as going to Chicago,” he said. If you go to the good places, then it’s worth going. But the places have to be better than here. And you have to know that certain places in Eretz Yisroel are not much better.

And therefore, certainly, if you can improve your spiritual status, why not? But you have to think about the future of your children. In Eretz Yisroel it’s always a problem of the draft, dealing with the army, and you have to know what to do when your children get of age. And so, even though there are ways and means of avoiding it, but it’s not so simple. And therefore if you’re able to find a good place, and you’re capable of coping with the difficulties there – there’s the matter of parnasa too – so anything that will help you improve your spiritual status, why not?

And the same question is, to move, let’s say, from Westchester to Boro Park, that’s also important. Before you go to Eretz Yisroel there are many good places right here in Brooklyn that you could be. You could move closer to the yeshivos! And therefore the rule is מעלין בקודש ואין מורידין. If you can improve yourself, then by all means.

When Rav Yisroel Salanter was asked this question, so he advised the person not to go to Eretz Yisroel because you couldn’t make a living there. It’s a remarkable fact. He said that it’s of the utmost importance to be able to have parnasa. And to go there and to endanger the health of your family by lack of a livelihood — and then you’ll have to look for help from relatives in other countries; you’ll write letters, and in the meantime people become ill in the family and they don’t get medical help. Sometimes people die young as a result. People can die just from the overwhelming pressure of debt — their heart gives out. And therefore, Rav Yisroel advised against moving to Eretz Yisroel.

Now, I wouldn’t say that today because today it’s easier to live in Eretz Yisroel than it was in his days. But in his days he advised people against it – it’s a fact. Unless you were able to guarantee that you’d have relatives to support you while you’re there.

Now, when we come to the question of parnasa, I must say something about this. A person, asked me yesterday about his career. He’s not yet married and he was telling me that he wants to learn, to sit in kollel. So I told him the first thing is you have to make a living. If you’re a man of twenty-seven years old then you should think about parnasa. Right now! That’s number one! You have to think about getting married. That comes first. You can’t sit down now and start learning and postpone marriage. You’ll get a girl later who is too old to have children.

And so so you have to think about a practical way of living. Hakodosh Boruch Hu expects of you to be mikayeim the first mitzvah of the Torah: והלא נברא העולם אלא לפריה ורביה – you have to have children. And in order to do that you have to make a living and therefore it’s called avodas Hashem. When a man works, even though he works from nine to five, he should know it’s the ratzon Hashem in order to build up a Jewish home. That’s number one!

And then if he wants he can add to his program. He can do a lot of learning even if he’s a working man. A man once told me that he’d like to stop working and go into a kollel. So I said, “You know what? Go away every Sunday from your home and go into a kollel. Every Sunday pack up a lunch and sit in the kollel all day long.” He never did it. So אגלאי מילתא למפרע, it showed that he didn’t want to sit in kollel. He wants to stop working, that’s what he wants.

And in in case you have to work on a Sundays, so Friday nights take a nap and then get up to learn. Long Friday nights—four hours—you can learn so much. Shabbos afternoon, on the long summer Shabbosim, you can learn so much. And motza’ei Shabbos too; most people don’t work motza’ei Shabbos. There are so many opportunities to learn. So if you use the little opportunities that you have now, so Hakodosh Boruch Hu might see where your heart is aiming and He might help you more. המקבל עליו עול תורה פורקים ממנו עול מלכות ועול דרך ארץ — If you try to learn with the little time that you have right now, then you’ll be rewarded that Hakodosh Boruch Hu will give you more time later in life. But you have to do it right now

Rav Avigdor Miller on Moving to Eretz Yisroel and Making a Parnasa

Rav Avigdor Miller on Defending the Jewish Community
Q:
Recently there have been a few instances of goyim in the neighborhood beating up on Jews in the community, in particular yeshiva bochurim. What’s the proper way to handle the situation?

A:
What’s the proper way to handle a situation when hoodlums are mistreating the frumme boys?

This I’m going to leave to experts in this. I don’t have much experience in that and I wouldn’t even attempt to tell you.

Of course, the minimum is that there should be a popular outcry. There has to be pressure. Not to ignore it; not to disregard it. If enough people would put up a big protest, they’ll get some results; there’ll be some action. And this brings us to a subject that’s worth talking about for a minute.

Nowadays, when there’s so much corruption and wickedness and crime and everything else, it’s up to the small group of people who have a certain intelligence – an original fresh intelligence – to speak up. If people would just write letters to our assemblymen, to city councilmen, to state senators, letters to congressmen, letters to U.S. senators on every issue; against crime, against everything else, you’d be amazed how big an effect your letter has.

Imagine if you would write one letter a week. It costs 20 cents – one letter a week. Fifty letters a year and let’s say there are a hundred people here, maybe there are more. Do you know how many letters that is every week?! A hundred letters every week. It’s the equivalent of a hundred thousand people who don’t do anything. You’d have a big effect on the policies of the city, the policies of the state. The police would react differently. Everything would be different. It’s because the frummeh are not trained to do anything – they keep quiet. And they suffer one indignity, one outrage, after the other.

Now, I’m not saying you should fight back – it could be. I’m not opposed to smashing the face of a bum, but the question is, if you’re not going to do it, are you going to ignore it? Here they shot a Jew, a father of eight children; they killed him. You’re keeping quiet?! What about an outcry demanding to restore capital punishment? Everybody should be fighting for capital punishment. There should be a big fuss about it. And there are a lot of things like that.

And the fact that we don’t do anything puts the blame on us. You can’t blame the irreligious Jews; they don’t care a thing. The freiyeh Jews – they don’t know and they don’t care. But we are organized. We are under one banner of Torah, so why shouldn’t we speak up?!

I want to tell you a secret. I spend a lot of money every week sending letters. I personally spend a lot of money every week. And time! I can’t afford the time – I’m very busy. But I spend a lot of time sending letters. Constantly I send letters out. If everybody would send one letter a week, you’d be amazed at the effect it has.

Some people who are lazy and cynical say it doesn’t have any effect. It’s not true. Sometimes when we send a petition from here, from the shul, a petition with thirty names, and the recipient, an assemblyman or a congressman, sends thirty letters to back to them. If he can read the handwriting, he sends thirty letters to them at their homes. So you see it makes an effect. So it’s important to react.

And this is something that’s easy to do. Maybe there are better things – I’m sure there are better things, but this is easy to do. And everybody should react.

Sometimes telephone calls. If you can organize a lot of telephone calls to the senators, to the assemblymen and to the councilmen, you get action. Because one telephone call from somebody who’s wide awake is equivalent to ten thousand people who are fast asleep.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Defending the Jewish Community

Rav Avigdor Miller on Shalom Bayis Advice
Q:
What should a wife do if her husband is never happy and satisfied with her?

A:
So, I’ll turn back the pages of my old book and I’ll repeat some advice. First of all, she should fulfill the sage council that I said here years ago: “Keep your mouth closed and smell good.” I once met a man – he gave me a lift in his car. He was riding with his wife and he gave me a lift. “You know,” he said, “My wife once heard you speak – when you gave that advice – and she’s fulfilling 50% of that.”

Now, if people would only follow the dictates of common sense – women have to know that it’s important to put up a good appearance. Woman should spend time on their appearance, that’s number one. And secondly, they should keep their mouth closed as much as possible.

Now, if a husband despite that is not satisfied, you should know that he is a native crank and nothing will help. And so, you’ll have to live out your life and bear it. You’ll get Olam Habah for tolerating him.

But I don’t believe that this will be the result. I’m sure if one party makes a big effort, then the other party will respond. It’s only because two parties engage in the quarrel — it always takes two to make a machlokes. And if one makes a real concerted effort, then it’s certain that the other party will be influenced.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Shalom Bayis Advice

Rav Avigdor Miller on When Hashem Takes People Before They Spoil
Q:
Is it better for a rasha to perish more quickly in order to avoid doing more sins, or to be allowed to live in order to repent and change his ways?

A:
Hakodosh Boruch Hu foresees everything. He foresees what’s going to happen and sometimes when He sees that someone is going to go deeper and deeper into sin, so it’s better to put a stop to it. Now, even tzadikim sometimes; it says ימות זכאי ואל ימות חייב —better he die innocent than continue to live and become more wicked. Sometimes tzadikim are taken out of this world in order that they shouldn’t deteriorate. The gemara brings a story about two righteous men who died young and it says there that they were like fruits taken off the tree just when they turn ripe; because the longer they hang on the tree, they’ll begin to rot. Hashem saw they wouldn’t be good later in life, so He took them off. That’s an answer many times – it shouldn’t happen – but when a young person passes away, and we see nothing wrong, it could be Hashem foresaw that he was destined to have circumstances in life that would cause him to deteriorate so Hashem took him out of this world while he was still good. It’s a chesed for that person – in the Next World that man is appreciating what Hashem did to Him.

By the way, I must add, although it’s not on the subject, sometimes people are born only to live a short time. Not everybody is born to live long. It’s part of Hashem’s plan. Sometimes a child is born to live only a day, and that’s Hashem’s plan. What’s His purpose? We can guess some of the purposes; perhaps it’s to test the emunah of the parents. Whatever it is, it will be discovered in the next world. The life in the next world will dispel all the darkness.

Rav Avigdor Miller on When Hashem Takes People Before They Spoil

Rav Avigdor Miller on Kiddush Levana
Q:
Is anything wrong with looking at the moon?

A:
In the olden days, it was considered reprehensible to look at the moon because in the olden days there were moon worshippers. But today, when you look at the moon, so if it’s just wasting time, so better to look in a sefer. What are you wasting time with the moon for? But if you look at the moon in order to see the chasdei Hashem, then you’re doing a good thing. It all depends on the kavana, on your intent.

When a person says the birchas ha’levana, so the gemara says that it’s considered כמקבל פני השכינה – It’s as if he’s greeting Hakodosh Boruch Hu. It’s a remarkable thing – it’s like he’s greeting Hashem. How can we say such a thing?!

The answer is that when you understand the chasdei Hashem that the moon represents, then you’re getting a new hasagah, a new level of understanding, a more tangible feeling that you’re standing in the presence of Hashem. That’s what the gemara is telling us. It’s telling us that looking at the moon will teach us about Hashem and it will make us more aware of Hashem – by means of thinking about the wonders of the moon.

Now, the moon happens to be just a planet. It could have been a distant planet. Why is it so close to us? The answer is that the closeness of the moon has very many beneficial effects on this earth. Do you know that the moon controls the tides? It’s very important for us. And it controls many functions of the earth. Besides, it’s also a night-lamp – it’s not too strong so it allows us to sleep, but it’s just enough to help us out if we have to go out on the street to go to the beis hamedrash. And so, we enjoy the beauty of the moon: ברה כחמה יפה כלבנה – it’s beautiful. If you look at the moon and you thank Hakodosh Boruch Hu for the moon, it makes you more aware of Hashem. And that’s why it’s כמקבל פני השכינה.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Kiddush Levana

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Nixon Impeachment

Q:
Do you think that the impeachment of President Nixon was a good thing for the country?

A:
Now, prepare yourself for a surprise. When they threw out Nixon it was a great loss! Nixon was a patriot! He was our last president with principles; since then we haven’t had a president with principles. And he was thrown out not because of Watergate – that was just an excuse. He was thrown out because the liberals were angry at his principles.

Nixon was against permissiveness. He was against immorality. And his only sin was that he overstepped the bounds of the law in order to stop a traitor from revealing secrets to the enemy in a time when American soldiers were losing their lives; he authorized a break-in of a certain psychologist who was divulging government secrets. Now, there’s nothing wrong with what he did. At a time of emergency a president should do that! It’s ridiculous for a president to be a stickler for the law when he sees the country is going under.

Only that the liberals utilized that to bring him down – but it wasn’t because of that. The liberals don’t actually care for right and wrong. Here’s Ted Kennedy who wants to become president now. And he’s to blame for the death of that poor girl who was with him when he drove his car into that river. He didn’t even try to save her life. While she was drowning, he didn’t look for ways and means of saving her life; he didn’t even go to the police. He ran to see his lawyer to get him out of his fix.

And this Kennedy wants to run for President. Now where are the liberal newspapers to condemn Kennedy? The answer is they will not condemn anybody who is one of their boys. But Nixon was not one of them and he was hated because he was for law and order.

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Nixon Impeachment

Rav Avigdor Miller on Fighting Back in the Yeshiva
Q:
What should a bochur in a mesivta do if he has a teacher in the English department who wishes to discusss gay rights with the students?

A:
And the answer is, he should go to the rosh yeshiva. He should go complain to the rosh yeshiva.

Now, that’s a very painful question; it’s not so simple because I know from experience that the people in charge do like this. The rosh yeshiva will tell you, “Talk to the principal.” So you go to the principal but he wants to keep his teachers; he doesn’t want to cause too much opposition, so he tries to soften the problem. “The teacher didn’t mean it,” he says to the boy. “He didn’t intend it.”

So now the boy now is stymied. He can’t go back to the rosh yeshiva and the principal already had put him off; so the boy now has to find other ways.

Now, I’ll tell you the other ways; I have other ways but I won’t say them in public because you might be the high school principal himself. So if you want, when you see me in private, I’ll tell you what to do.

Chasidim, Misnagdim and Red Delicious Apples
Q:
What’s the benefit of different types of servants of Hashem, like misnagdim and chasidim and sephardim? Wouldn’t it have been better if everybody used the same method of serving Hashem?

A:
And the answer is, why is that you have clover honey and orange blossom honey and buckwheat honey? You have ten varieties of honey. The answer is, it makes life more delectable. Variety – it’s a pleasure. After all, Hakadosh Baruch Hu could have given us only apples. Let’s say you pass a fruit stand and there would be nothing there but red apples. Let’s say Red Delicious apples. All Red Delicious apples – nothing else. Wonderful! But how much more fun it is if you have ten different kind of fruits!

And therefore, there are all kinds of methods of serving Hashem. Now sometimes you can choose one and stick to it always and sometimes you can pick different things from different groups. Something you pick from the Gerrer, something you pick from Lakewood, something you choose from Lubavitch, something you take from Belz, something you take from Satmar and so on. Everybody has something to contribute. You can be sure there are a lot of delightful fruits in all these various places that will help a person serve Hashem in various ways.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Fighting Back in the Yeshiva

Rav Avigdor Miller on Kosher Meat and Apikorsis

Q:
Is a menahel of a mesivta obligated to exercise censorship over his English teachers?

A:
Is a menahel of a yeshiva obligated to exercise jurisdiction and censorship over the English teachers? There’s no question that he is! It’s like saying, is the menahel of a yeshiva obligated to see that the yeshiva dining room is kosher? Would that be a question?

Now, the dining room is less important than the English department because the tarfus, the treifus that can be served by teachers in the secular department can be much worse than treifus served in the dining room.

And let’s say somebody will come and say, “I know that the cook didn’t salt the meat, she served unsalted meat,” so can the rosh yeshiva say, “Look, it’s not my department. I don’t deal with the kitchen”?!

So you say to him, “Don’t you say shiurim on Mesichta Chullin?” Some places they do; or at least they should. So if you say shiurim on Chullin and hilchos melicha, so what about practicing it? Do you practice what you preach?

And since salting meat is certainly less important than teaching evolution – salt in the meat is only a d’rabanan. Dam sh’bishlo is only a d’rabanan. And still, people understand if they cook meat in the yeshiva kitchen without salting, there’ll be a scandal. There’ll be an explosion. The rosh yeshiva should run into the dining room with a broom and start giving it to the cook and drive her out – hit her over the head and drive her out.

So he should do the same thing to the English teachers who teach evolution or say other things of apikorsus. He should rush into the high school department with a broom and start banging them over the head and throwing them out. Certainly it’s his responsibility.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Kosher Meat and Apikorsis

Rav Avigdor Miller on What’s Mar About Cheshvan
Q:
Why is it that the month of Cheshvan doesn’t have any holidays in it or even any fast days?

A:
And the answer is that Cheshvan comes right after the month of Tishrei. And since we lost so much time on the holidays, so much time from learning, so we need time to make it up. You know, if you learn every day with groups of bochurim in the yeshiva, your heart hurts because of all the learning that goes lost. Now it’s Rosh Hashana, now it’s Yom Kippur, now it’s Sukkos. Your heart hurts you – you’re missing so much.

And if you’re a business man you lose out a lot. If you work for a company your boss is getting sourer and sourer with you every day. He sees you’re taking off for this yomtiv and this holiday. You need a lot of alibis to explain that!

So finally Cheshvan comes along and it’s a solid month of achievement. You can work every day, you can learn every day. And that’s a great blessing, a great opportunity for making progress. No yomim tovim, no fast days, there’s a lot of time to achieve.

Now, if you have a better explanation; go ahead, why not?

Rav Avigdor Miller on What’s Mar About Cheshvan

Rav Avigdor Miller on Television Sewage
Q:
How can one convince a man who watches movies and television shows to stop doing so?

A:
Take him out in the street, to a sewer, and dip a cup into the sewage. As it’s rushing from the sidewalk into the sewer you pick up a cup of sewage water and say to him, “L’chaim my friend, take a drink.” So he says, “I can’t drink that; it’s dirty water.” And you tell him, “It’s much cleaner than what you drink everyday from your television.” Because watching television means that you’re pouring the dirtiest kind of filth into your mind. Besides for atheism in the brain, the worst thing that can happen to a man is if he gets water on the brain. If he gets sewage on the brain then there’s no hope for him! Television today is poison. Anybody with a bit of understanding knows that if he wants to have any hope of coming to the next world, it won’t happen if he’s a television watcher.

It says אלקי נשמה שנתת בי טהורה היא – “You gave me a pure soul.” And so, you’re supposed to return it to Hashem at least how you got it. The truth is you should make it better. But at least the way you received it, you should give it back to Him.

And so Hakodosh Boruch Hu is going to be pretty angry when you return the soul to Him and it smells bad; waterlogged with sewage. Because, the way a man dies that’s the way he’s going to remain forever. If a man leaves this world with a soul that’s putrefied with television garbage, so he’ll have to live with it all his life forever and ever for the next million years. That’s a principle, “The way a man leaves this world,” the Rambam says in Avos, “that’s how he’s going to remain forever.” That’s why it’s important to purify the mind and put into it as much kedusha as you can, because that’s what you’re going to exist with forever and ever.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Television Sewage

Rav Avigdor Miller on Kosher Entertainment
Q:
If travel and movies and eating out are goyish, so where should people go for entertainment?

A:
Come to this place and I’ll teach you a lesson. Ahh! What a good world it is! It says, והנה טוב מאד – the whole world is good. If only you would learn to walk and to enjoy life while you’re walking. You’re walking in the autumn now and as your feet are wading through the leaves, you’re kicking the leaves on the sidewalk. Isn’t that fun? You’re breathing the brisk fresh air of autumn and you’re seeing the beautiful colors of the leaves and you’re thinking, every leaf that falls from the tree is a neis. Why did it fall? You think the leaf got tired and finally fell down?

When a leaf falls from a tree, it’s a neis. Abscission cells develop at the end of the stem where it’s connected to the twig and these cells do a most purposeful performance of cutting off the leaf from the twig. When it falls, it’s a marvel! A remarkable marvel of precision!

Why do leaves change colors in autumn? Because they have to let us know that time is passing, that we’re not going to live forever. And even more important, they tell the squirrels — Get busy and bury your acorns because winter is coming. And while the squirrels are burying acorns, they’re planting future oak trees for us. ועזבו לאחרים חילם – the squirrel thinks the acorns are for him to eat, but sometimes the squirrel doesn’t live until the springtime, and now the acorns take root and that’s how oak trees grow.

And while you’re walking, you’ll notice seeds falling to the ground with wings attached to them. All kinds of various machinery to cause the seeds to fly, different kinds for different seeds. How did it happen that the tree had the wisdom to attach flying gliders to the seeds in order that the seeds should fly away from the mother tree so it won’t have to compete with the mother tree for materials? Instead it falls down on an open space and grows.

And as you’re walking in autumn and your mind is filling with the wisdom that you see all around you, you’re also breathing the fresh air. It’s not hot now. It’s not cold. This is the time of year to get the most out of life.

Of course, if you’ll ask me in the springtime, I’ll tell you how to get the most out of life then too. In July, I’ll tell you how to get the most out of life then too. It’s always good. Nissan is good and Iyar is good and Sivan is good and Tamuz is good and Av is good. וירא אלקים את כל אשר עשה והנה טוב מאד — Hashem saw that everything that He made is good.

When people learn how to enjoy life, they’ll see how silly it is to go to a movie. “I’ll coop myself up in a movie where there’s no fresh air and it costs money too and my eyes are feasting on garbage?” Hakol hevel.

You go to a place to eat for entertainment? Why should you go out to eat? You think the restaurants can give you any food that is more wholesome than what you have in your own kitchen? Most of the food in the restaurants, you have to know, is not as clean as your home food. Many times, the people that you don’t see, they take fish out of the big pot with their hands and they put it on the plate to serve you. And they wipe their noses with the same hand. Go behind the scenes in the restaurant kitchen – you won’t eat there anymore.

And what does travel mean? I told you many times. Travel to Hong Kong and go to a hotel room. You’re paying a lot of money to see bigger cockroaches than you ever saw before at home. And you contract foreign diseases too. And so, it’s all imagination. It’s all selling – people sell you the sheker and you pay out of your nose. You pay and pay and then you come back knocked out. Sometimes you come back sick. People come back sick. They have dysentery. They have yellow jaundice. I’ve had cases where people came back with sicknesses; only that they wanted to get their money’s worth so they rave for the rest of their life of the good time they had while they were in those places.

Life is full of innocent kosher pleasures and gashmiyus. Of course life is not for that alone, but it’s possible to live happily without spending a nickel.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Kosher Entertainment

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Monkey Look-Alike
Q:
Why is it that out of all animals, it’s monkeys that resemble man most?

A:
And the answer is that if you make a blood analysis, you’ll discover that there are some animals whose blood resembles human blood more than monkey’s blood does. A monkey has no more intelligence than a dog. In fact, the porpoise – it’s a marine mammal – can learn more tricks than a monkey. We shouldn’t be deceived by the fact that a monkey in a certain manner resembles a human being. In intelligence, he is no better than other animals.

The fact is that in circuses they have trained porpoises to come out of the water and balance balls on their nose. They leap over certain hurdles and they can do tricks – remarkable things they’ve been taught to do and they’re considered intelligent marine mammals, if animals could be called intelligent. But monkeys, no matter how much you try, you’ll never teach them to do what a human being has to do. Even what a seven-year-old boy or a three-year-old boy can do, a monkey will never learn to do.

Of course, there’s a big ballyhoo in the magazines. They say monkeys have been trained to do this and they’re making progress and soon who knows what’s going to happen?! I’ll tell you what’s going to happen. Thousands of years will pass by and they’ll still be a plain monkeys.

And why they resemble human beings? Well, resemblance doesn’t mean anything. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to be deceived by the claims of evolutionists. This has nothing to do with evolution.

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Monkey Look-Alike

Rav Avigdor Miller on Asking For a Life of Glory
Q:
On Shabbos Mevorchim we ask Hashem for a חיים של עושר וכבוד, a life of wealth and glory. But didn’t we learn that glory is something that is inappropriate to run after in this world?

A:
Good question. Why do we ask for a life of osher v’chovod, a life of wealth and glory? The answer is this: We are not looking for glory – but we hope Hashem will help us behave in such a way that we deserve glory. If people will honor us because of our good character, we don’t mind. We want to succeed in behaving in such a way that we deserve kovod, yes. I would like people to say, “Miller – he’s a nice fellow!” I would like that, yes. Because that means that most likely I did something that would please people.

So you should do things in such a way that people should approve of you — but you’re not living for kovod. And so, in that tefilah we ask Hashem, “Please, give us a life of kovod; please help us this month so that we should behave in a dignified manner; decently and Torah’dik, and then we deserve to get kovod from people.” Oh, if we succeed in doing that this upcoming month, then we’ll be very happy because that means that we’ve had a successful month.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Asking For a Life of Glory

Rav Avigdor Miller on A Variety of Subjects
Q:
Is there anything wrong with patronizing a kosher branch of a treifeh fast food chain. Let’s say a glatt kosher McDonalds or something like that?
A:
Go someplace else; the name already smells bad.

Q:
Why is Aharon Ha’Kohen’s yartzeit mentioned in the Torah by date and not Moshe’s?
A:
It’s a good question. I don’t know.

Q:
Is it a worth choosing one shidduch over another shidduch because of a certain color of hair?
A:
And the answer is you can always buy any kind of a sheitel after you’re married.

Q:
What do you say about the man, Bernard Goetz who shot those muggers on the train?
A:
We say יישר כחכם – lang leben zohl ehr. כן ירבו! And I think it’s a good idea for people to write letters to the mayor saying that he should be given a decoration in city hall.

Q:
If a person listens to Torah tapes, is he mika’yeim the mitzvah of talmud torah?
A:
If it’s Torah, he’s mika’yeim the mitzvah of learning Torah. It depends what’s in the tapes.

Q:
Is the Jew who is accused of killing the diamond dealer guilty or innocent?
A:
I have to apologize because I left my prophecy hat at home. When I gain the gift of prophecy I’ll try to help you out.

Q:
I have a question about the book written by a person named Chaim Potak. May an orthodox person treat them seriously?
A:
Chaim Potak is zero. I hope this was heard clearly by everyone. Chaim Potak is nothing!

Q:
The body of which gilgul will come back in techiyas hameisim?
A:
On the subject of a gilgul, I plead total ignorance. I know nothing about it. Many things I know nothing about. That’s another one.

Rav Avigdor Miller on A Variety of Subjects

Rav Avigdor Miller on Hoshana Rabah
Q:
Can the Rav sum up the lesson of Hoshana Rabah in a few words?

A:
My good friend, Sholom Hamada, asks, “What can we sum up as the teaching of Hoshana Rabah?” Since Hoshana Rabah is tonight, we’ll take the time to speak about it a bit.

We’ll see tomorrow morning what the theme of Hoshana Rabah is. The theme is, and it’s surprising that most people don’t even notice it, the theme of Hoshana Rabah is to ask for rain! You’re asking for rain!

The shatz stands up, and he plaintivly prays, הושענא, הושענא! He’s crying out, אנא הושענא הושיעה נא! He’s crying out, praying for rain. It’s repeated so many times, and that’s the theme. And the custom that the nevi’im instituted of striking the ground with the aravos, that’s a prayer for rain. That’s a form of praying for rain! People don’t know what’s taking place! They’re thinking about everything else except for the most important thing. On Hoshana Rabah, of all the things that we request, we are asking for rain!

Now imagine. Suppose you would call up your friend, once and twice, and then hundred times. And you said to him, “Please answer me. הושענה. Please come to me. Please. ענני. I need you. Please come. Come! Come! Come! הושענה!” And so finally he comes over to you. You’re begging incessantly, so finally he comes over and he rings the bell. So you tell him, “Stop bothering me already!” What is that about?! You’re yelling for hours about rain, rain, rain, and then when the rain comes, you complain about the rain.

You should feel some sort of responsibility! If you’re going to commit yourselves tomorrow morning, like I’m sure you will, for a long time – it takes hours in some places – praying for rain, then you have to realize that rain is a great happiness.

And we’ve actually been receiving this happiness for the last few days. The only pity is that it interferes with our Sukkah. Otherwise we should be internalizing that it’s a happiness. A great happiness. Rain means everything that you put into your mouth. Not only the soda – because that’s what rain is, it’s soda, just without the dirt. Rain means not only that you’ll have something to bathe in – and that in itself is a great benefit – but rain means entire generations of people. All of us are eighty percent water. That’s what we are, eighty percent rain! So when it rains, generations are descending from the clouds.

Rain is a very great blessing!! And we should learn that lesson tomorrow. It’s a pity – people talk and talk and talk, for hours they’re walking around the bima, talking and walking. And the chazan even puts on a kittel, and he doesn’t begin to know what he’s talking about. The same shatz who davened all morning, as soon as he finishes davening, he walks out of the shul and it’s raining, and he says, “What a nasty day!” He just got through asking for it! The answer is that he doesn’t even know what he’s saying.

It shows us how unthinking the world is. It’s a pity that nobody thinks. You have to learn what a great blessing rain is. At least that, you should come away with after Hoshana Rabah. And that brings us back to one of our old subjects – גדול יום הגשמים – “How great is the day when it rains!” Only that we’re running out of time for tonight. Time is up, so I wish you all a pleasant yom tov. ושמחת בחגיך והיית אך שמח.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Hoshana Rabah!

Rav Avigdor Miller on Inviting Your In-laws for Sukkos
Q:
If my husband wants his parents to come for yomtiv but they belittle me constantly, do I have the right to prevent my husband from inviting them? Or should I just have them over and swallow the hurt?

A:
It depends. If you are looking for a great mitzvah that will help you be zoicheh to Olam Habah, then you should tell your husband to invite them and you should be willing to swallow everything that they do. Because li’fum tzara agra. The reward will be according to the distress. And besides that, you will be perfecting your character.

So if the wife is willing to suffer, then yes. But if she’s not willing, then he must obey his wife and not invite his parents. And that’s because you can’t be a mazik because of your mitzvos. He’s going to cause her a certain amount of distress by doing this mitzvah and he has no right distress her for his mitzvah. על כן יעזוב אחד את אביו ואת אמו ודבק באשתו (Bereishis 2:24). A man must always be loyal to his wife. Loyalty is the foundation of a marriage.

Now, sometimes it pays for you, the wife – even not for a mitzvah, not for Olam Habah – to swallow it. Why? Because his parents are much older than you. And when they pass away, sometimes they’ll leave money for you. So it’s a pretty good idea to be on good terms with your husband’s parents because that way they’ll leave their money to you. And don’t think that it’s a joke. It’s very serious. And in many cases there aren’t that many years that you’ll have to wait. And therefore, be very nice to your husband’s parents because you’ll have something to hope for. And that’s in addition to your perfection of character and your s’char in Olam Habah.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Inviting Your In-laws for Sukkos

Rav Avigdor Miller on Chol Hamo’ed Trips

From Toras Avigdor — Parshas Metzora: The Aristocrat Home

“How important it is for parents to train their children in simchas yomtiv! Now some parents think that simchas yomtiv means taking out the children on chol hamo’ed for a ride to go to the park or the zoo. Nothing wrong, but that’s simcha, not simchas yomtiv.

To train children, even little children, that today is yomtiv, today is chol hamo’ed, is so important for building the home. Sit down and make a little mesibah, a five minute mesibah l’kavod yomtiv; a little gathering. Wednesday afternoon, Thursday, Friday afternoon. A little mesibah is more important than two hours in the Bronx Zoo or who knows where. A goy also has the Bronx Zoo, but we want to have an aristocratic home of princes and princesses. Sit down and talk for a couple of minutes about yomtiv; tell the children, “Let’s sing the song Atah Bichartanu, or a different niggun.” And then say, suggest to them, “Kids, aren’t we having a good time, kinderlach?” And they all chime in, “Yes. Now let’s go to the zoo!” But that’s excellent – you accomplished your mission! Because those few minutes have laid a foundation.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Chol Hamo’ed Trips

Rav Avigdor Miller on How to Shake the Lulav and Esrog
Q:
What should we be thinking about when we’re shaking the lulav and esrog, when we do the na’anuim?

A:
You can’t just lean back and do the minimum. Even if you’re a frum person who keeps everything; everything! Let’s say you bought a beautiful esrog and you paid good money for it. So now you’re holding a lulav and an esrog; that’s not enough. Maybe you should be m’chadeish something in the mitzvah. You have to be a m’chadeish. When you make the na’anuim, you should say to Hakodosh Boruch Hu, “I’m thanking You Hashem that You gave me a good heart.” You know, many people have sick hearts. They wish they could have your heart! The esrog is like the heart, the medrash says. So as you hold up the esrog you think, “Thank You Hashem for giving me a good solid healthy heart.”

“And You gave me good eyes.” Many people have trouble with their eyes. And that’s what the hadassim are telling us. The hadassim are eyes. “You gave me a good backbone.” Many people, nisht ein gedacht, lo aleichem, are bent over. They have hunchbacks. Their spines are bent. And you have a straight back. Now, that’s something to think about when you pick up the lulav.

Listen to me; What does na’anuim mean? Back and forth, back and forth. What does it mean back and forth, back and forth? It means our thanks are to You because it came from You to us. Our thanks are to You because of what’s always coming from You to us. That’s what we’re saying when we shake it back and forth. We shake in all directions because we say, no matter from where the good comes from, it’s only coming from You all the time. And therefore you take the lulav, that’s your backbone, your shidrah, and you take your heart, that’s the esrog. And you take the hadassim that’s your eyes, and you take the aravos, that’s your lips, your mouth, and you say “I dedicate them to You Hashem for what You did for me.” Back and forth, back and forth, that’s what you think about by the na’anuim. It’s all coming from You to me, Hashem.

You think it’s silly! It’s not silly at all. I’ll tell you what I think about many times when I say na’anuim. Many times I think like this: One na’anuim is for my oldest son-in-law. Boruch Hashem I have a good eidim. Boruch Hashem! And boruch Hashem, I have a good second son-in-law. Boruch Hashem for the next eidim. Boruch Hashem, there’s no trouble there. I never hear any machlokes. My daughters live in shalom with my eidim. Boruch Hashem, I’m happy. Such good eidims. That’s why we make na’anuim. That’s what it means. “I’m thanking You for what You’ve given to me.”

So when you say tomorrow by the na’anuim, הודו להשם כי טוב, so you’re thinking: You married off your daughters well? It wouldn’t be a bad idea to make one na’anuim for this son-in-law. “Ay yah yay! I’m thanking You Hashem for this son-in-law.” And by the next na’anuim, הודו להשם כי טוב, “I’m thanking you Hashem for the next son-in-law.”

That’s how to work it. It’s such a very big thing to have married off your children well that you can never thank enough for a good son-in-law or a good daughter-in-law. And that’s how you should think when you make the na’anuim. It shouldn’t just be a mechanical thing.

Rav Avigdor Miller on How to Shake the Lulav and Esrog

Rav Avigdor Miller on Thinking in the Sukkah and Welcoming the Ushpizin
Q:
What intention should we have when we sit in the sukkah?

A:
When we sit in the sukkah the Torah tells us what our thoughts should be. The Torah says that the reason is למען ידעו דורותיכם — In order that your generations should know, כי בסוכות הושבתי את בני ישראל — that I put your forefathers into sukkos, into tents and huts, when I took them out of Egypt.

Hashem is telling us: “When I took your forefathers out of Egypt they were more secure and more safe than any subsequent time in your history.” Pay attention – during the 40 years in the wilderness they were more secure against foreign enemies than any subsequent time in our history. In the wilderness, where they had no fortifications, they were safer than any other time! They lived in open camp and were vulnerable to attack from anyone. And all the nations knew that they were carrying all the wealth of Mitzrayim. Imagine you were walking through Bedford-Stuyvesant late at night loaded down with gold and diamonds without any bodyguards. And let’s say the locals knew all about you. How long would you last? A few minutes maybe.

And yet the Am Yisroel were safe. They weren’t attacked. Moshe Rabeinu never lost a battle. Their camp was invulnerable because there was a Sukkah overhead. And that was the Ananei Kavod, the Clouds of Glory, the Clouds of the Presence of Hashem, that were protecting them.

And that’s what the sukkah that we sit in symbolizes. We sit in the sukkah under the schach and we say, “This sukkah is a pretty flimsy protection. There’s no roof of masonry. There’s no iron door. There’s nothing.” And yet, that flimsy sukkah overhead, represents the idea that it is Hashem who is protecting our nation throughout all the generations. So even though you may live in your brick house all year long and you bolt your doors every night – and you should bolt your doors every night – sitting in the sukkah for seven days teaches us that our brick walls and our iron doors are all just imagination. Because really it is only Hakodosh Boruch Hu who is protecting us.

And despite the fact that many nations rise up against us, in the end they will all be frustrated. And that’s because Hakodosh Boruch Hu is מצילנו מידם. His presence goes with us forever.

Q:
We have a tradition that Avraham Avinu will be coming as a guest to our sukkah on the first night of Yom Tov. How is it possible for Avraham Avinu to be in thousands of sukkos at one moment?

A:
Avraham Avinu is in Gan Eden. He’s not מלא כל הארץ כבודו. You have to understand that. So what does it mean that Avraham Avinu will be our guest? It means that the shem tov, the dugmah, the example and the influence of a man is just like the man himself. Avraham’s influence should come into our sukkah and be mashpi’ah upon us. Avraham was a big oived Hashem. He was a tremendous ba’al chesed. Avraham was ready to sacrifice his son for Hashem. So what we want is that all the shleimus of Avraham Avinu should come into our sukkah and influence us. That’s more important than Avraham Avinu coming into our sukkah. If he came and we didn’t think about anything; if we didn’t think about who Avraham Avinu was, it would be a waste of time – a waste of a visit. But when Avraham’s influence comes, that’s more important than Avraham himself. And that’s the ikar.

Now, when we say that Hakodosh Boruch Hu is in the sukkah, that’s a different story. Hakodosh Boruch Hu is in the sukkah and you have to know that. Vi’shuchanti bi’soch Bnei Yisroel. Asher ani sho’chein bi’sochum. “I dwell among you,” says Hashem. And it’s true. It’s true that wherever the Jews come together, Hashem is there too. And that is 100% true. But when we say Avraham is in our sukkah, it means that Avraham’s example and influence is in our sukkah. When we invite Avraham into our sukkah we are being mispallel to Hashem that we should be zoicheh to impress upon our minds the influence and the ideals of this great man.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Thinking in the Sukkah and Welcoming the Ushpizin

Rav Avigdor Miller on Avinu Malkeinu
Q:
How can we come to realize that Hashem is our father?

A:
Now I’ll tell you a queer thing, but this is how to do it. If you’ll stand in a corner when nobody is around and you’ll say “Avinu” – Our Father. Say it again and again. “Avinu, Avinu, Avinu.” Say it a hundred times. And it’s going to sink in after a while that He’s really your father.

That’s not the only way, but that’s a very effective way. And this we learn from Reb Yisrael Salanter, zichrono livracha. He taught us that we have to repeat the great ideas. You have to say these words over and over and listen to what you’re saying; and in the course of time it’s going to sink in. If you mean business, that’s the way to say it. Now, if you’ll always think about what you’re saying when you say the word Avinu in the tefillos – if you’ll think what this word means, “Our Father” – then it’s going to help too. Only that during davening people are usually in such a hurry that they don’t stop to think.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Avinu Malkeinu

Rav Avigdor Miller on Motza’ei Yom Kippur Plans
Q:
What should we think about on motza’ei Yom Kippur?

A:
On motza’ei Yom Kippur the first thing is to say, “Hashem, how good it is to eat! It’s so much fun to eat!” I’m serious about this. “Boruch Hashem, how good food is! How good a glass of water is!” All year long you forget about it, and that’s a pity. It’s a pity because food is very good. Water is very good. So that’s the first lesson of motza’ei Yom Kippur. And be sure not to lose that lesson. Ahh! Boruch Hashem for food! הזן את העולם כולו – You’re feeding the entire world!

And then you begin counting. After Yom Kippur you should begin counting the days. You’ll say like this: “Look, yesterday was Yom Kippur, and now it’s a different day. It’s not the tenth day of the month anymore. Now it’s eleven days since the year began. Eleven days! Eleven days and I’m still alive! Oooh! Boruch Hashem! Boruch Hashem!” Do you ever think about that? Well, you better think so. And then the twelfth day. And the thirteenth day.

And so, on motza’ei Yom Kippur you have to think, “Boruch Hashem! I was able to live through Yom Kippur! Boruch Hashem I’m still around.” It’s the great service of appreciating what Hashem does for us; and it’s one of the very most important things you can do in this world.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Motza’ei Yom Kippur Plans

Rav Avigdor Miller on Living for Hashem
Q:
What does it mean when we ask Hashem for life and we say למענך אלקים חיים – “Let us live for Your sake Hashem”?

A:
The words למענך אלקים חיים, for Your sake Elokim chayim, mean more than one thing. But one important thing is this. Hakodosh Boruch Hu wants to give us a great gift, the gift of knowing about Him.

Now, the fact that you believe in Hashem is very nice. But it’s not enough. It’s too weak; it’s too pale. Hakodosh Boruch Hu wants us to think about Him and know Him more than that. And therefore, when Hashem gives us any favor, any form of kindliness, one of the purposes – actually the most important purpose – is so that we should say, “Oh, Hashem, now we see that You are kind. You’re so good to us and we thank You for that.”

That’s why a beautiful peach is given such a fine color. A blush on each cheek. Why is the peach so beautifully colored? Besides for tasting good inside, why is it so beautifully colored? Because Hashem wants you to enjoy the peach even more. And why does Hashem want you to enjoy it? You’re supposed to enjoy the peach so that you can thank Hashem: “Oh Hashem, I thank You for this peach. Thank You Hashem.” That’s the purpose – to thank Him. “Hashem, You’re זן את העולם כולו, You feed the whole world; but not only do You give us food, but You do it בחן בחסד וברחמים. You do it with kindliness.”

And as we are learning about the kindliness of Hashem, we are gaining more and more knowledge of Hashem. The more you appreciate what Hashem does for you, the more you gain knowledge of Hashem’s kindliness. And that is a tremendous benefit for us.

And therefore we say, “For Your sake Hashem, give us life.” “For your sake,” means, “You Hashem want us to learn about You, because that’s our success in this world. So give us a happy life, and we promise You Hashem, that this coming year we’re going to utilize every day to say, ‘Thank You Hashem for today.’

Today we began the seventh day of the new year! “Oooh, we thank You Hashem.” Seven days already! Seven days! Are you thanking Hashem?! Right now, thank Him. Right now! It’s already seven days. Soon it will be seventy days. Soon it’ll be three hundred and sixty five days. Soon it’ll be Rosh Hashana again. Did you thank Hashem for that yet? Every year it comes, and you forget to thank Hashem.

So your first obligation is to thank Hashem for what He did for you already. When you use your life to thank Hashem, that’s למענך, that’s living for Your sake, Hashem. You want us to know about You and the more we enjoy what You give us, we’re going to think about You more and understand You more.

So the coming year, when you eat, you say, “Ahh, I thank You Hashem for the good bread.” When we wash with soap, we thank Hashem for the soap: “Ahh, soap is such a wonderful thing.” You drink water, you thank Hashem. You take a bath, you thank Hashem. You put on clothing, you thank Hashem for the clothing. You breathe the air, you thank Hashem for the air.

“Oh, now I see that you know how to live,” Hashem says. “That’s living for My sake. I’m giving you these things for My sake, so that you should appreciate who I am. And that’s your success in this world!”

Hashem says, “That’s your success in life. If you would understand that I am the mekor ha’chesed, the source of all kindliness in the world, then that’s called living for My sake. Then you’re living for Me and that’s what I want from you.” That’s למענך אלקים חיים.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Living for Hashem

Rav Avigdor Miller on Real Teshuva
Q:
In some seforim they make it sound like doing teshuva is not so hard. It’s a process, but it’s not so hard. But in other seforim it says that it’s a big avodah of changing who you are completely. What’s the truth?

A:
In order to explain that, we have to ask: What does teshuva mean? What are you returning to? There are two kinds of teshuva. In order to repent for your sins, there are some minimal requirements that you must be aware of, certain things that you must do, and then you have fulfilled the mitzvah of doing teshuva for that sin. You have to have charata, regret for your sins. Then you have to resolve that you won’t return to those sins. You also have to have קבלה על העתיד, a resolve to forsake your evil ways. And you also have to ask Hashem for mechila, and you have to say vidui. Now, these are not very simple matters, but when you do these things properly you have fulfilled the basic requirements of of teshuva.

But there is another teshuva, much more difficult. A much higher teshuva. And that is שובה ישראל עד השם אלקיך – Come all the way back to Hashem. Not just to “do teshuva” but to actually come back to Hashem. That is the real teshuva that Hashem wants from you. And that teshuva is endless. The pursuit of shleimus, the perfection of trying to get close to Hakodosh Boruch Hu, is a life long endeavor. Moshe Rabeinu tried all his life; and although he succeeded enormously, nevertheless he didn’t fully succeed. Nobody can succeed completely. שובה ישראל עד השם – Come back to Hashem means not merely to stop doing aveiros. Hashem wants you to be perfect, as perfect as you can be. And that perfection means returning to Him, by keeping Him before you all the time. All day long. That’s teshuva.

All your life you must strive for more and more perfection. And it’s a chiyuv, an obligation! Hashem says to us ומי יתן והיה לבבם זה ליראה אותי כל הימים – If only their hearts would remain this way always, where they recognize My Presence before them (D’varim 5:26). Hashem wants from us that same attitude that they had at Matan Torah when they heard the voice of Hashem. It was tremendous! Everyone was overwhelmed by the d’var Hashem at Har Sinai. The voice of Hashem! And Hashem said, “I want it to always be that way!” How could it always be that way?! That’s a very difficult avodah, a teshuva that involves coming back to Hashem.

So real teshuva, the תשובה שלימה, is a very real undertaking because there’s a lot of work to do to achieve that attitude of feeling the presence of Hashem always. But it’s an attitude that all of you can achieve. It just takes work. All our lives we have to strive to do the best we can, by constantly seeking more and more shleimus, by coming back to Hashem as much as possible. The more you think about Hashem, the more you are coming back to Him in real teshuva.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Real Teshuva

Rav Avigdor Miller on Impeachment and Fake News

Q:
Did you change your mind about President Nixon now that it has been proven that he cheated on his income taxes?

A:
If anybody is even a little bit acquainted with the income tax laws, he knows that they have so many nuances of interpretation, that if you get a mean judge, he could convict almost anybody of income tax evasion on technicalities. And that’s besides the fact that he could actually convict most people outright for straight out fraud. If investigations were made on everybody, most people would be behind bars. This is well-known.

What are accountants for? Not to give the government its due. An accountant is there to see how much he can keep out of the hands of the government. But even when an accountant is perfectly honest and his report doesn’t hold back anything, still there are so many shades of meaning in the tax codes. You know that many of these cases have gone in front of the courts. Income tax cases are constantly coming up in front of the Supreme Court, which means that the laws are open to interpretation. One court says this and then it’s overturned. And then it’s appealed and it’s overturned again. Nixon didn’t cheat on his income taxes. He had some of the best accountants in the country, you can be sure of that. And their interpretation was one way. But once these eagle-eyes hawk liberals are after him, so anything that he does is interpreted to his discredit. And therefore they forced him to pay. He could have fought it in the courts. Absolutely he could have fought this case in the courts. But he didn’t want to. It wasn’t worth it. That’s why he paid.

Now, on the subject of the tapes, we have to realize that America is actually running wild. To take tapes of a president’s private conversations and to broadcast them on the radio for everyone to hear — that means that America has hit a new low. Never before has there been such a disgrace.

And therefore, we have to keep our heads above water. There is a flood of wickedness that is sweeping the country. And it’s a craze. It’s not a rational thing. Just because the Democrats couldn’t win at the ballot box, they’re trying to recoup their losses in Congress through impeachment.

On this subject, you have to know that the public are nothing but the victims of the media. I have told you many times that you are all the victims of the radio and the newspapers. But if we were able to judge the situation impartially, you’d see that President Nixon is actually one of the great presidents. He is a victim of persecution. And I think that every Jew should speak up. Every Jew should take his cue, not from the mischievous men on the radio and television, but he should take his cue from the Gedolei Yisroel, and he should be מתפלל בשלומה של מלכות. You should pray for the welfare of the President and his government. I think we all ought to write a little note to President Nixon. Address it to President Nixon, White House, Washington D.C. and write: “President Nixon, we are with you.” And put the date on it so that he shouldn’t think that it was a week ago that you wrote it. No, you’re writing it today, after the news came out. “President Nixon, we are with you!” And if you can also write some other notes to his opponents, telling them what to do, then do it. And if you want to tell them where to go, you can do that too.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Impeachment and Fake News

Rav Avigdor Miller on How to Dip the Apple in the Honey

Q:
What does the Gemara mean when it says סימנא מילתא היא with regards to eating the simanim on Rosh Hashanah (Horiyos 12a)? How could eating a carrot or gourd be a good siman for the new year?

A:
On Rosh Hashanah night we eat certain vegetables like carrot and leek in which the names of the vegetables seems to be a siman for good things. Why? And the answer is like this.

There’s a big question that is asked. Why do we need tefillah? When you’re thinking, Hashem knows your thoughts, so why should you have to speak it out at all? It seems like a waste of energy. And actually, it’s a good kasha.

And the answer is that when we speak out the words of tefillah it’s a more powerful expression then just thinking alone. It makes more of an impression on your mind when you speak out words.

Now, if you do a mai’sah, an action, then it’s even more powerful. That mai’sah becomes a tefillah. The thing that you’re doing becomes a tefillah. So when you eat that vegetable or that fruit and you are thinking, and you’re saying that this year should be a shanah tova u’misuka, so what you are doing is you’re adding a mai’sah to your tefillah and you’re making it that much more powerful.

When you dip the apple in the honey, let’s say, and you say that this year should be a shana tova u’misuka, don’t just say it as if it’s some sort of segulah to give you a sweet year. No, not at all! The act of dipping it in the honey and taking a bite of that apple is a very important part of tefillah. The right thing is to think, and to say, “I’m dipping this apple into the honey as a tefillah to you, Ribono Shel Olam, because I want You to give me a year that is as sweet as honey. Please give it to me. Please look at my mai’sah as a mai’sah tefillah. Please give me a sweet year.” You must think these thoughts. What else?! Are you going to dip the apple in the honey the same way a little boy in cheder dips the apple?! Are you going to waste the opportunity?!

Now, our time is up for tonight, so I say to you all: תכתבו ותחתמו כולכם לאלתר לחיים ולשלום בספרן של צדיקים גמורים

Rav Avigdor Miller on How to Dip the Apple in the Honey

Q:
If Rosh Hashana is the Yom Hadin, the day that Hashem is judging us, shouldn’t we spend the whole day saying vidui and confessing our sins?

A:
On Yom Kippur we’re busy saying אשמנו בגדנו גזלנו. We spend the whole day admitting our sins. Now, why don’t we do that on Rosh Hashana, you ask. It’s a day of judgement. Why don’t we confess our sins on Rosh Hashana?

There is a very good reason why we don’t say vidui on Rosh Hashana. The answer is that there’s something even more important to do on Rosh Hashana. We have more vital business to transact, and that’s the business of Hashem Melech – the business of recognizing that Hakodosh Boruch Hu is around.

You know, I mentioned before that there are people who are pious in details. But they are not pious in the generalities. They don’t believe much in Hakodosh Boruch Hu. They believe in kashrus, and in Shabbos, and in taharas hamishpacha, and they won’t shave with razor blades. And all that’s wonderful. They sit in the sukkah, they buy an esrog, wonderful! But they don’t remember Hashem enough. They forget about Him.

So, Yom Kippur is for the details. Of course you must speak about the details. Certainly! Certainly if a Jew has sinned, he has to atone for that. But on Rosh Hashana we have to devote time to the premise, the foundation. And the foundation of everything is yiras Hashem – to be aware of Hashem.

And that’s why on Rosh Hashana, instead of spending the day bent over saying סלח לנו and אשמנו בגדנו, we spend the day on our feet shouting ה’ מלך ה’ מלך ה’ ימלוך לעולם ועד – Hashem was always the King, Hashem is the King now, and Hashem will be the King forever and ever. Because that’s the message that has to strike home on Rosh Hashana.

And once you become aware of Hashem, once you get into your head that Hashem is King, then you’ll be ready for the details of Yom Kippur.

Yom Hadin

Rav Avigdor Miller on Rosh Hashana Prep
Q:
Can the Rav give us some specific advice to work on in order to be zoicheh ba’din next week?

A:
What advice can I give you as hachanah for Rosh Hashanah?! I was speaking about this for the last hour [TAPE E-247 “Greater Than the Universe”]. You have to learn what’s important in the eyes of Hashem. Learn what’s really important. That’s the hachanah for Rosh Hashanah.

ואל זה אביט אל עני ונכה רוח וחרד על דברי – But it is to this that I look … to the one who is chareid for My word (Yeshai’ah 66:2). “Chareid“ means Orthodox – a chareidi. If you’re a frum Jew, that’s what’s important in the eyes of Hashem. It’s not just agav urcha. You have to learn that this is what is important. It’s not enough to say it; you have say it so many times that you begin to believe it. The frum Jew is the most important thing in the eyes of Hashem!

The Nobel Prize is not important. Suppose they would offer you the Nobel Prize. It means nothing when compared to being a frum Jew. The Vice-President is not important. If they offered you to be Vice-President, it’s nothing. It would make you crazy for nothing. Look what happened to Senator Lieberman. All of a sudden, Lieberman says that intermarriage is permissible. Can you imagine such a thing? He wants to be Vice-President and all of a sudden intermarriage is mutar. The idea of being Vice-President can turn any body’s head but it’s nothing at all. You’re being chosen for what the world makes out to be important – but it means nothing to Hashem.

But, boruch Hashem, Hakodosh Boruch Hu says to us, “I have chosen you for something really important. I have made you My beloved ones.” בנים אתם להשם אלוקיכם – “You are My children,” says Hashem. And knowing that is the first step in preparing for Rosh Hashanah. That’s the hachanah for Rosh Hashanah – to think about what’s important in the eyes of Hashem. And that should be enough for you to decide that from now on you’re going to do the will of Hashem, to do the ratzon Hashem according to what He told us in His Torah.

Of course, in order to know that, you’ll have to listen. People today don’t know what Torah is. I’m speaking about the frummeh. They don’t know what the Torah is saying. You have to listen to what the Torah is teaching us and you have to know all the details. You have to learn the details as much as you can.

You can’t do teshuva if you don’t know which direction to turn. If a person wants to travel someplace, he has to have some details in order to set out. Let’s say he leaves New York but he doesn’t know which direction to go – north or south. It’s not enough to just get into your car and start driving out of the city. Where are you going ?! לא ידע ללכת אל עיר – He doesn’t know to which town he has to go to; he doesn’t know how to start to do teshuva. You have to know how to do teshuva. It’s not an easy task. You have to learn what Hakodosh Boruch Hu wants from you. It’s not enough to just rely on what you remember from your rebbi in cheder. It’s not enough to hear a drasha on Shabbos Shuva. You have to learn the details of developing a Torah mind.

If you listen to Hakodosh Boruch Hu’s words you’ll succeed. And you’ll find them in the Mesillas Yesharim. Mesillas Yesharim is an excellent guidebook. Chovos Halevavos is an excellent guidebook as well. Sha’arei Teshuva is a wonderful guidebook. You have to learn the seforim. And now is an excellent time to begin. Don’t say, “Someday I’ll do it.” Do it right now. Right now, because that’s what Hashem wants from you.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Rosh Hashana Prep

Rav Avigdor Miller on Ten Minutes to Make You Great

Q:
The Rav said tonight that we should get busy before Rosh Hashanah remembering all the good that Hashem has given us since last Rosh Hashanah. But don’t we have to spend the time we have left thinking about our sins and our behavior over the past year and making resolutions for improving this coming year?

A:
You’ll recall that I said the words, “as part of our work.” Really, there’s so much work to be done, that we don’t have time in the ensuing period, until tomorrow at sunset, to do what has to be done. But remembering all the good that Hakodosh Boruch Hu gave us this past year, and thanking Him for it, is most surely a very important part of our preparation.

So instead of worrying about fitting it all in, I’ll tell you what to do. You make sure to think for five minutes about the past year – about all the good that Hashem has given you since exactly one year ago. Do that and you’ll be a great man. And then another five minutes about resolutions for the coming year. And then you’ll be an even greater person. Those ten minutes will be a great accomplishment.

If after sitting here for an hour and a half, you’ll go out and think for five minutes, you should know that you’re an exception. You’re a dagul mei’rivavah – you’re one out of ten thousand. There’s nobody like you.

Who thinks for five whole minutes about gratitude for Hashem for the past year?! And who thinks for five minutes about making resolutions for improving himself in the coming year?! People talk about it. But that’s all. That’s why I said in the beginning of our talk, that if you do this on a small scale, then you shoot up and your head is way above everybody else.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Ten Minutes to Make You Great

Rav Avigdor Miller on How to Read the Tochacha
Q:
Why do we read the tochacha at such a rapid pace and so quietly? Wouldn’t it be more effective if we read it slowly and with more emphasis?

A:
The truth is that today it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to read it that way. But in the ancient times when people were more aware of the lessons of the tochacha, it created a very great anxiety and depression. When people were more aware of the Torah and the lessons intended thereby, it was sufficient to read it quietly, and everyone was impressed by the lesson anyhow because they understood what the Torah intended.

But today, when it’s read merely as a formality it wouldn’t be a bad idea if the tochacha was read aloud and slowly. Now I’m not going to change any customs, but the benefit of the tochacha today is lost. The purpose really is to let us know that nothing happens without a reason. And when misfortune happens it is because the Jewish people are forsaking the Torah and Hakodosh Boruch Hu doesn’t keep quiet. But if you don’t listen to the tochacha, then you’ll never know that lesson.

Rav Avigdor Miller on How to Read the Tochacha

Rav Avigdor Miller on Selichos
Q:
In Selichos when we say מכניסי רחמים and מלאכי רחמים. Are we praying to angels? Are we asking them for help?
A:
And the answer is that in this shul we skip it. We don’t say that. Some poskim say you shouldn’t do it. And we skip it.

Now, some justify it by saying that really we want Hashem to do it. Only that we say azai lashon of מלאכי רחמים, messengers of mercy, but really we are speaking to Hashem.
TAPE # E-249

Q:
In Selichos we say that אין קורא בשמך – “We have no one among us who calls out in Your name.” But the Chovos Halevavos says that we people who are קורא בשמך in every generation. So what are we saying?
A:
In Selichos when it says that today we don’t have a קורא בשמך it means something else. It means this: In the good old days, there were people who had influence with Hakodosh Boruch Hu, and when they asked Him for rachamim, for mercy, He listened to them. And today, it’s not so easy to find that anymore. That’s what we’re saying in Selichos.

But the Jewish nation is קורא בשמך always, no question about that. We call out to Hashem for everything. Only that here it means that Hakodosh Boruch Hu will listen to their outcry and respond immediately. Rebbi Chanina ben Dosah, when he asked Hashem to do something, Hashem listened to him, yes. Today, I don’t know of there is anybody who could do that anymore; that’s all that it means.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Selichos

Rav Avigdor Miller on Israel’s Election Results
Q:
What’s the Rav’s opinion of the Likud party versus the Labor party in Israel?

A:
I must tell you my sincere opinion – I’m not interested in either of them. There’s only one party for us and that’s the party of those that are sh’lomei emunei Yisroel. That’s our party. The frum Jews, that’s our party.

The truth is that someday there will be a history written; there will be a Tanach written. The gemara says that: אליהו כותב והקב”ה חותם – “Eliyahu HaNavi is going to write it and Hakodosh Boruch Hu will sign” (Kiddushin 70a). There’s going to be a great Tanach written. And in that Tanach, you’ll look in the back or in the front for references; you’ll want to see who is mentioned in this book. Likud? No; no mention of Likud! Nothing! You won’t find Teddy Kollek there either. You won’t find Ben Gurion. No, nothing will be mentioned of them. Nothing at all.

The history of Am Yisroel is being written by the frum Jews. They are the ones who make history – the frum men and frum women. Those who are raising families, they’re writing history. A mother brings up a family of sons and daughters, sh’lomei emunei Yisroel, she has made history and she’ll be in that history book. Yes, women will be in that history book. Tzadikim and tzidkaniyos, frum men and women – not only gedolei Yisroel. ויד כל אדם בו – “Everybody’s hand will write in that history book something.” Every person will someday be in the history book and it will be a very well written history. Eliyahu HaNavi knows how to write. And all the tzadikim will be there, but nobody else! Likud, Labor, all of them will be left out.

Now, some people think it’s not a real Jewish history unless it mentions also the names of this reformer, of that Zionist, of this other fellow. No! These are just accidents of history, tragedies, and they’ll be left out. Now, Hakodosh Boruch Hu will “take care” of them, don’t worry about that! He won’t leave them out from getting what they deserve. He’ll “take care” of them! He has something in store for them! But they won’t be in the history book of the Am Yisroel. In that great Tanach, only the sh’lomei emunei Yisrael will be inscribed.

And it’s very important to be there. That’s why we say: למה נגרע – “Why should we be absent?” It’s a great tragedy not to be there. למה נגרע – We don’t want to be absent from that book. So make it your business that you should behave in such a way that you’ll be inscribed.

Moshe Rabbeinu was willing to sacrifice everything for the Am Yisroel. And what was one of the biggest sacrifices he was willing to make? He said מחני נא מספרך – “Erase me from Your sefer.” Moshe Rabbeinu was moiser nefesh for the Am Yisroel. “Erase me,” he said. Moshe Rabeinu knew that being erased from the history book of the Jewish People would be the ultimate sacrifice. And Hashem said, “Don’t worry, I won’t erase you. You won’t be erased. For saying that, I’ll write you in the chumash too.”

And therefore, anybody who wants to be an oheiv amo Yisrael, so he has to love the frum Jews. Amo Yisroel doesn’t mean you love the Jewish nation. No; you love only the frum Jews. That’s a very important lesson. You have to love frum Jews just like Hakodosh Boruch Hu loves them. As much as you can you should love amo Yisroel, the frum Jews. And by loving frum Jews, you’ll be inscribed in that eternal sefer too.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Israel’s Election Results

Rav Avigdor Miller on How Much to Pay for a Beard
Q:
The Chofetz Chaim wrote a kuntress about the prohibition of shaving, and other gedolim also wrote about the importance of wearing a beard. What should a person do if his wife is not so happy about the idea?

A:
What should a person do if his wife doesn’t want him to grow a beard? So, if he can afford a diamond ring, so he should invest the money. And if he can’t, it’s possible, little by little, with diplomacy, to convince her that a beard is a good thing. All things need diplomacy, and if you do it with chochma then I’m sure that in the course of time you’ll be able to win out.

Now, in the yeshivos in Lithuania before Wold War Two nobody had a beard. That’s a fact. Only the kollel people had beards. But the bochurim, even the old bochurim, nobody had a beard. Even in the American yeshivos, once upon a time, even the good yeshivos, nobody wore a beard. It was only later on, when the chassidish element came to this country more and more, it had a very big influence and people began growing beards as a result.

Now, you have to understand that hadras ponim, the beauty of a Jewish face, is enhanced by a beard. A beard doesn’t take away the beauty of the face; on the contrary a male face is much more attractive when it has a beard. It’s like a woman’s hair. A woman without hair on her head, a bald-headed woman, she’s not attractive. A Jew without a beard on his face is not attractive.

However, not always it is possible to do it. You might have to be patient. And if you’re really interested in having a beard, you can consult somebody more capable of giving advice, and little by little, there are ways of winning her over.

Some people, for certain reasons, don’t grow their beards. Maybe they think that there are certain places, certain situations, where they’ll have more influence without a beard. And therefore, if it’s l’sheim shamayim, it could be that it’s the proper way to do.

But anything that you want of your wife, first of all דבר תורה מעות קונות, money and gifts always accomplish Torah results. Try it. Maybe you’ll succeed.

Rav Avigdor Miller on How Much to Pay for a Beard

Rav Avigdor Miller on Loving Jews
Q:
Can the Rav explain to us how we could actually learn to love all Jews?

A:
Now, first of all, I want to tell you that it’s not necessary to love all Jews. Only the shomrei mitzvos. On the non-shomrei mitzvos there is no chiyuv. ואהבת לרעך כמוך – the Gemara explains that it’s a mitzvah for רעך במצוות – a Jew who is a fellow Jew in mitzvos. But if he’s a Jew only in the technical sense, that his mother is Jewish, but he doesn’t keep the Torah, then there’s no mitzvah. But if it is a fellow Jew, a רעך, then you have a chiyuv di’oraisa to learn to love him.

Now, how do you do it? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you an eitzah, a good piece of advice that I heard from a great man. To just say, “I love everyone,” is nothing. That’s what the liberals say. They love everyone. But really they love nobody. Everything is nothing. You can’t just say, “I love everybody,” all of a sudden. It means nothing. Nothing at all.

You must choose one Jew. Don’t tell him, but choose one person and say, “I’m going to love that Jew.” Say it. And think about it constantly. Think about him positively as much as you can. Think about his good traits and ingrain them into your mind. He has a nice smile; he’s a kind fellow; he davens nicely; he lends you his tools. Whatever it is, you’ll find nice things about him. And little by little you’re going to come to love him. He shouldn’t know about it, but you should love him dearly. Don’t say a word to him. And after a while you’ll see that you really love him.

Then choose another person. And do the same thing. And little by little you’ll have a few people that you really love. And that’s going to be your model to help you go further and further. But you must do it. You must start. People have never even attempted it.

You must know that loving the Am Yisroel is Hakodosh Boruch Hu’s favorite subject. Moshe Rabeinu became great only because he was an oheiv Yisroel. ויצא אל אחיו וירא בסבלותם. He went out to see the sufferings his fellow Jews (Shemos 2:11). “Oh,” said Hakodosh Boruch Hu, “That’s the man I’m looking for.” Moshe Rabeinu became great just because of that. אין הקדוש ברוך הוא אוהב אלא למי שאוהב את ישראל – Hakodosh Boruch Hu only loves those that love His people (Mesillas Yesharim: Perek 19). Because that’s who He loves. So when you love Hashem’s people, then Hashem loves you. וכל מה שאדם מגדיל אהבתו לישראל הקדוש ברוך הוא מגדיל עליו – “And the more you increase your love for the Am Yisroel, the more Hashem increases His love for you (Mesillas Yesharim ibid). The more you love the frum Jews, the more Hashem loves you. Study this ideal and make it into a project. Start with one person and little by little you’ll be surprised. You’ll get good results. If you never try, you’ll never move. You’ll never budge. All your life you’ll stand still and never do this mitzvah at all.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Loving Jews

Rav Avigdor Miller on Kiddush Hashem for a Penny
Q:
The Rambam says that one of the aspects of kiddush Hashem is that a person should behave in such a way that people will say, “Look at that man! He learns Torah and look how well behaved he is.” So my question is, should he be doing it with that intention, in order that people should praise him?

A:
Yes. He should do it in order that people should praise frum Jews. A frum Jew, a black-hatted Jew, should make it his ideal to behave in such a way so that people will say good things about frum Jews. Here’s a black man from UPS and has to deliver a big heavy package. He has to open the door but he only has two hands – he can’t reach the doorknob. Now, you’re going by, and you’re a black-hatted man with a beard. So what do you do? You open the door for the black man, and he says, “Thank you.” It’s a kiddush Hashem. The black man sees that a rabbi with a beard is a mentsch. It’s a kiddush Hashem; you’re raising the honor of Hashem in the world. It’s not your honor you care about – it’s the honor of the one you represent, Hakodosh Boruch Hu.

And don’t think it’s a small thing. Whatever you can do to make people praise you as a frum Jew, you should do that. Once you put on a black hat, you’re responsible to make a good impression on the world. Go out of your way. I was once standing on the street corner, and a college boy threw something on the sidewalk so I bent over, picked it up and put it in the wastebasket. A man standing nearby said to me, “Thank you.” He thanked me for picking it up from the street and putting it in the garbage can! Do things so that people should appreciate the frum Jews. Go out of your way to show people that a frum Jew is polite; that he’s kindhearted and decent.

You’re walking in the street, and a faker has a tin can; he’s crying, “I want charity from you.” He’s a loafer and he wants your money. So pick out a penny from your pocket – he shouldn’t see it’s a penny – and knock it into his can with a loud noise. When you walk by, all the spectators will say, “Ooh, look at that – the rabbi is giving tzedakah!” It’s a kiddush Hashem. But don’t put in two pennies; it’s a waste of money!

Rav Avigdor Miller on Kiddush Hashem for a Penny

Rav Avigdor Miller on Kosher TV
Q:
Do we gain the maximum benefit by staying to ourselves, separate from the goyim? Wouldn’t it be beneficial for us to gain from what the nations have to offer to us?

A:
When you see an airplane take off for Eretz Yisroel, and inside there are many people going to yeshivos to learn in Eretz Yisroel, that’s an example where we are taking advantage of what the gentiles have to offer us. R’ Akiva Eiger didn’t invent an airplane, and neither did the Vilna Gaon invent the airplane. The goyim invented it. So we say, absolutely; utilize all that we can from the inventions of the goyim. Even the scientific knowledge that the goyim have discovered we use. Make use of everything; whatever we can we take it for ourselves.

We’re like the bee. The bee takes the nectar and turns it into honey. When the bee takes the nectar from the plant, he doesn’t merely take the nectar and let it remain nectar, but he transforms it by enzymes into honey. And we take from the nations of the world whatever they have, and we utilize it for d’varim sh’bikdusha, holy purposes; no question about it. That’s why in all houses today, in frum houses, they don’t have torches or gas light; you have electric lights, don’t you? They sit by electric lamps in yeshiva; they use lights in yeshivos and they learn Torah. By all means, use everything that the goyim have to offer for all good purposes, certainly. It depends, however, who is going to bring these things to us. Because there is a lot of wickedness too by the goyim. And so we have to be careful what we take from them and what we keep far away from. So we say, our leaders are the ones who should introduce us to all the good things of the nations of the world

Now, I think that when Moshiach will come, we’ll still use automobiles; we won’t give up automobiles. It will be עולם כמנהגו נוהג – The world will continue to run like it does today. The gemara says that. And if there will be automobiles, so there will have to be traffic lights too. Traffic lights were invented by the goyim but there will be traffic lights too in the time of Moshiach. On the contrary, there will be halachos, takanos chachomim: If a person passes a red light, he gets ארבעים דרבנן, he’ll get malkos, lashes. No question about it. There will be very severe penalties. That’s very important for us – for safety, piku’ach nefesh.

We’ll make use in Moshiach’s times of all the good takanos. I’m sure they’ll use radio to let people know dinim, halachos, other important information; and people will listen to Torah on the radio. And in those days there will be a kosher TV. Kosher TV means people will sit in their homes and will look at the TV and they will see tzaddikim teaching Torah and explaining things – halachos, and middos tovos, and even halachos of Yom Tov and halachos of Shabbos on TV; and it will be much more effective than merely words or printed pages. I’m sure all the modern inventions will be utilized in the days of Moshiach. Therefore, certainly we want to make use of the benefits the goyim bring to the world

Rav Avigdor Miller on Kosher TV

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Most Important Guest at the Wedding
Q:
What should a person think when he’s under the chuppah?

A:
He should think about Hakodosh Boruch Hu. Because the gemara says that when a man and woman are married, a third party descends and participates in that union. איש ואשה, when a husband and his wife are married, then שכינה ביניהם, the Shechina is there too. You don’t see Him, but He’s more real than you are — more real than your bride too. He’s more real than all the guests. Don’t let the number of people present at the wedding make you forget about Hashem. They’re only dreams; shadows that pass in the night. Sooner or later everybody disappears. And just like the hall will empty out — at 3 o’clock at night, if you visit the hall, it’s dark and quiet. That’s how this world is — everybody disappears eventually. The only One that remains is Hashem.

And so, you and your wife are now joining in a contract with Hashem: “We’re going to be loyal to Him forever and ever. Together we’ll serve Hashem.” That’s what marriage is for. You’ll make it your business that you and your wife will try to please each other like Hashem wants. And you’ll live according to that principle and you’ll live forever. Your union will be not only in this world; when your time is up you’ll go together in the World to Come forever and ever. Because anybody who’s connected with Hakodosh Boruch Hu is eternal. Like he woman said to Dovid when she blessed him: והיתה נפש אדוני צרורה בצרור החיים עם השם אלוקיך – The the soul of my master Dovid should be bound up in the bond of life forever with Hashem. And so, if you’ll think about Hakodosh Boruch Hu then you’re going to be forever.

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Most Important Guest at the Wedding
Vaeira
Berachos 20
Brochos daf 20
Brochos daf 19
Brochos daf 18

Rav Avigdor Miller on Library Books and Dirty Apples
Q:
Is it permissible to take out fiction books, kosher fiction books, from the public library to read?

A:
It’s like asking, “Suppose an apple fell into a toilet bowl, can I take it out and eat it? It’s a kosher apple so can I eat it?” Well, it might be the most beautiful apple, but you’re taking it from a dirty toilet. It’s going to depend on what else is in the toilet. There might still be certain books in the library that are still readable, but you have to know that once you walk in there you immediately smell the odor of tzo’ah, of excretement. The library today is a foul place more than ever before.

And therefore, its recommended that you stay out in order that your garments should not be redolent with the fragrance of the public library. Because the books are terrible today. Children should be trained to stay away. Nobody should let their child play with excrement.

And I want to tell you that it’s a big error of the principals of the English Departments of the Yeshivos and Bais Yaakov schools, when they give children assignments to go to the library. It’s irresponsible. Maybe twenty years ago, but not today. So the principals, the men and women principals of the English Departments of the Yeshivos and the Bais Yaakovs, should no longer send their pupils to the libraries.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Library Books and Dirty Apples

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Inexpensive Shidduch
Q:
How can a girl get a good shidduch when she can’t afford to get a big talmid chochom?

A:
There are plenty of good boys around who don’t ask for much money – I’m telling you, I know. You want davka the kavod of a fellow who comes back from Eretz Yisroel with a certain label attached to him? Who said that label necessarily proves that he’s a good bochur? I know a case of a great adam gadol who took an eidim, a son-in-law who was famous as an illuy. And then the trouble began.

An iluy is a very big responsibility. Also not all iluyim are normal. And the fights began with the wife – it was a battle. And then they separated and there were din torahs, and kol koreihs, and pashkavilin. Oh, it was terrible thing till they finally got rid of each other. And they paid a tremendous price to get that boy!

So look for a bochur who is a ba’al middos tovos, and you’ll find somebody – Hakodosh Boruch Hu will help you.

Of course you must save money for your daughters. That was part of my talk today. You should save money for your daughter. You have to save money for yourself for your old age; you should have insurance, why not? Hakodosh Boruch Hu wants you to take care of yourself. So you should also save money for your daughter too.

But in case you didn’t save a million dollars for your daughter and you can’t get the million dollar boy, so forget about him – there are other boys that will be satisfied with a much smaller amount.

So בטח בהשם ועשה טוב שכון ארץ ורעה אמונה – You trust in Hashem and do what’s right and He’ll take care of you. You’ll end up having nachas from your daughter and your grandchildren.

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Inexpensive Shidduch

Rav Avigdor Miller on Hurricanes and Holocausts

Q:
What could we learn from the hurricane that was supposed to come today? {this question was referencing either Hurricane Gordon or Hurricane Helene of late September 2000}

A:
The hurricane first of all is a test, will you come hear the lecture? They say a hurricane might be coming, and everyone is all nervous and excited, and despite that, you came. You get more reward for that. לפום צערא אגרא, according to the effort required, so too will be the reward.

Secondly, from the hurricane we learn ובכן תן פחדך השם אלוקינו על כל מעשיך — “Hashem, put Your fear on the world” (Rosh Hashana Amidah). Hashem does it to create fear. You have to be afraid of Hashem. A hurricane, chas v’shalom – much worse could have happened. It turned out it didn’t happen, it’s nice and quiet, boruch Hashem. But the fear of the hurricane is enough. The fear of the hurricane is enough to make you a changed man if you’re wise enough to use the opportunity.

You know, I always say, there’s a din in the Torah of the ben sorer u’moreh, a son who is disobedient, and he steals from his parents’ money and buys meat and wine. So his parents can accuse him before beis din and they whip him, they give him malkus. And if he does it a second time, his parents bring him before beis din and they kill him. A little young boy of twelve years old. And everybody pelts him with stones. All the people of the town come and they throw stones at him and kill him.

Now this scenario has so many conditions in the gemara – so many conditions that must be fulfilled in order to kill him, that some say that it never happened. It’s so hard to fulfill because there are so many conditions attached, so it never even happened. But if it never could happen, why is written in the Torah?

The answer is that all the little boys who learn chumash, all the little boys in cheder, are frightened to death by it. They learn the chumash with their rebbi, and they’re frightened. Oh, it’s wonderful! That lesson is wonderful — to be afraid of being wicked. “If I’m wicked, this could happen to me,” the little boy is thinking. He doesn’t know the lomdus in Mesichta Sanhedrin, all the conditions and difficulties, the chumrahs that make it impossible. He doesn’t know about that. To be afraid is a tremendous thing. Learn to be afraid of Hashem!

And that’s why, when we study the principles of the Torah, even if it’s things that won’t happen in our days, nevertheless the fact that it did happen once, is a tremendous opportunity.

Let’s say it happened once in Europe. A terrible destruction happened once in Europe, and we should be afraid. You know, I was in Europe before it happened. I was there. Nobody thought it would happen. Nobody dreamed about that. That they would wipe out towns?! They took the men of every town out to the fields and they shot them down. They shot them down. And three weeks later, they came back, took out the women, and shot the women down. They shot down the men and women. In some places they made a hole in the ground, and they put the people in the hole, and shot them in the hole. Who even dreamed of such a thing?! And before they killed them, the Jews were hiding in their homes starving. They were starving and frightened to death. And the Germans ran around the town, banging on the doors. The German banged on the door, “Give me your child!” “My child?!” “Yes, give me your child. If not, I’ll shoot you all to death immediately.” And the Germans took the children and put them into the back of a truck, and they would drive the truck out to the forest. And on the way out to the forest, the exhaust of the truck, the monoxide fumes were pumped into the interior of the truck, and the children were gassed to death. And they were dumped out in the forest. And then the truck went back for more. The Germans ran around with their guns pulling children from their mother’s arms, to gas them. Who would have dreamed of such a thing?! A meshuganeh world! In our wildest nightmares, we wouldn’t think about something like that.

Now, I must tell you something. The Mirrer mashgiach, zichrono l’vracha, in the old Mir said the following: People forgot about gehenim altogether. Even frum Jews stopped talking about gehenim. So Hakodosh Boruch Hu gave a little sample of gehenim in this world. That’s what he said. That it was a little sample of gehenim in this world. Not gehenim; gehenim is much worse than that. But it’s a sample. And we have to think about that.

We’re here, enjoying all luxuries, with plenty to eat. We have liberty, we have safety, we have equality, everything – and over there they’re burning Jews. Destroying them in terrible, brutal ways. And we have to think, why are we any better than they are? So we have to say, “Ribono Shel Olam, we are learning to fear you. We are trying to make our way of life better, just because of that. We want to use their deaths as a stimulus to improve our lives to be more loyal to you.” We should always think about that. You should think, “Why should I be the survivor, when they were destroyed so terribly?” And the answer is, “I have to learn from the example, the lesson, that was offered, by this terrible catastrophe in Europe. I have to learn how to utilize my life, and I have to say, ‘I’m going to serve You Hashem, and improve all the days of my life just because of that.'”

So it doesn’t matter if it’s a destruction in Europe or a hurricane in America, you have to make sure to see Hashem, and become more and more afraid of Him, all the days of your lives. The gemara tells us (Yevamos 63a) that אין פורענות באה לעולם אלא בשביל ישראל – “Misfortune comes to the world only on account of the Am Yisroel.” The hurricane is for the Am Yisroel. The earthquake is for the Am Yisroel. The Holocaust is for the Am Yisroel. And Rashi (ibid.) says כדי ליראם – to make us afraid, so that we should do teshuva.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Hurricanes and Holocausts

Rav Avigdor Miller on Birthday Thoughts
Q:
What should one think about on his birthday?

A:
Ahhh! There’s such a great deal to think about! The first thing is to spend time appreciating that you’re still alive. It’s a pleasure to be alive. I look back on my own history and I see many people I knew, who passed away. People who passed away young. Nebach, nebach, nebach. A friend of mine, fourteen years old, passed away. At the age of fourteen he was gone. Another friend – when he was a little older. So you have to thank Hashem on every birthday for the wonderful gift of another year. Now, don’t make a party. No, no, don’t make a party for yourself. But think about that gift on your birthday.

And a second thing to think about is that you must realize that a birthday means that you are in debt to Hakodosh Boruch Hu. The older you are, the bigger is your obligation to serve Hakodosh Boruch Hu and to thank Him. So if Hakodosh Boruch Hu gave you another year, you’d better get busy accomplishing. Because life is passing you by. The wealth of life is when you’re young. The older you get the poorer you are because you have less time to accomplish. There’s so much that you have to accomplish in life. So many valuable things to do; there are so many things to accomplish and time is running out. Another year just went by!

If you would learn one Ktzos Ha’Choshen every week, as the years go by you’d become a baki in Ktzos Ha’Choshen. Do you know what kind of a happiness that is?! I guarantee you that it’s a happiness. A real happiness! But you have to start sometime.

And therefore, as the years pass by, you should become more and more concerned about accomplishing. I know that you might not believe so, but you’re not going to live forever. There are all kinds of achievements that you should be striving for. All kinds of achievements! And life is a happiness because it is an opportunity to achieve the perfection in service of Hashem. And it is the only opportunity that you’re going to have!

Rav Avigdor Miller on Birthday Thoughts

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Two Sides of Music
Q:
The Rav said tonight that Dovid Hamelech reached greatness because of his constant singing of praises to Hashem. But the Rav has said in the past that music lessons for children are a waste of time. Can that be explained more clearly?

A:
Yes, I’ll explain. Shiru lo, zamru lo (Tehillim 105:2) What does that mean? Shiru lo means to say poetry to Hashem. Not singing, but poetry. To talk with enthusiasm – to speak in an enthusiastic manner. That’s poetry. And then it says zamru lo, sing with music to Hashem. Not only to say poetry to Hashem but to sing with music as well. So we see that it’s a mitzvah to show our happiness and gratitude to Hashem with music as well. It’s a mitzvah.

Now, if we teach our children to be grateful to Hakodosh Boruch Hu, that’s the first step. Parents have to teach their children to appreciate all the things that we mentioned here tonight (Tape E-213 “The First Step on the Path to Greatness”). And it’s a very big task. But to teach your son how to sing with music before that first step is like telling a person to blow into a horn. But he doesn’t know what to blow. He has no notes. And so his blowing the horn is nothing. And therefore, the first thing is to train your children in the art of thanking Hashem. Most people play music and they don’t thank Hashem. They don’t think about Hashem at all. And that’s why it’s a waste of time.

When you pass a music store you should know that it’s a place for meshuga’im. Only wild people frequent such a place. No decent people go into a music store today. Because all it is, is a wildness of the nerves. Music excites the nerves for nothing.

But if you have a tzadik – an eved Hashem who learned how to talk about Hashem and how to thank Hashem, and now he wants to express himself with song, that’s different. That’s the shiru lo zamru lo that Dovid Hamelech was speaking about.

I once went into a certain shteibel and a Rebbe was sitting there singing. I can’t forget it. He was singing anah anah av’dah di’kudshah brichhu. It went into my blood and I’ll never forget it. That’s already something else. A man who has yiras shamayim and he’s singing and he’s putting all of his yiras shamayim into the song. That’s something else entirely! I was listening to him and it had a tremendous influence on me.

But some people want to play music and sing, but their minds are empty. That’s a one hundred percent waste of time. Just to arouse your nerves by the excitement of music without having the noble thoughts to accompany the music is nothing.

And that’s why it’s so important to teach out children to sing to Hakodosh Boruch Hu about everything in our lives that we mentioned tonight. Shiru lo. Lo! To Him! That’s the first step. And after they accomplish that, if they are already perfect in the shiru lo – in the avodah of speaking with enthusiasm about Hashem – then you can move onto zamru lo, and teach your child music so that he’ll be able to sing and thank Hashem with music.

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Two Sides of Music

Rav Avigdor Miller on Late Night Weddings
Q:
What do you say about weddings that go till late at night?

A:
Why should weddings take so long?! You need hundreds of people to ruin their health just because you want to make a wedding?! People should go home early — it’s a crime to keep two hundred people up till very late at night! The next day two hundred people will be walking around looking like ghosts because of you. It’s a strain on the heart and a strain on the kidneys. It’s too much!

The truth is that it’s too much to expect even of a good friend. Even a good friend should sneak out! Don’t bother to go over and excuse yourself. Because then he’ll start importuning you. Just sneak out and forget about it. He’ll be angry? Your body will also be angry at you if you stay, and it’s more important to be friends with your body.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Late Night Weddings

 

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Yartzeit of the Satmerer Rav

From the end of Tape # 278, five days after the petirah of the Satmerer Rav, Rav Yoel Teitelbaum, zatzal

​Actually I must divulge that I began this subject (Tape # 278 – My Servant Moshe) with the intention of saying something about the Satmerer Rav, zichrono l’vracha. Because such an event is too big to pass over without some remark. We have to know that the Satmerer Rav represented an old tradition. He was ninety-three years old, which means that he had spent a great part of his life in the old world among the old talmidei chachomim. And therefore, when he came here he brought along with him not American ideas — he brought along the tradition of the Am Yisroel. He represented a continuity of our great past. And not only that, but he was a fighter, and his presence here had a very profound influence on everyone.

And it’s only ויהי אחרי מות משה, after Moshe the eved Hashem passed away, that the people realized who they once had. It’s only after the Satmerer Rav has now passed away that people will realize what they once had, but didn’t appreciate.

And therefore this principle that we spoke about tonight, that the great men exert a powerful influence on their generation and that they represent the Shechina, has to be studied by us because we are still alive. We can’t give up and say, “Well, all of the old gedolim have passed away; Rav Aaron zichrono l’vracha, and the old Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rav Yosef Yitzchok are gone.”

When Rav Yosef Yitzchok passed away, I remember the day. It was a dark day and the whole Jewish nation was in mourning — just like we are mourning for the Satmerer Rav zichrono l’vracha. When Rav Aaron Kotler passed away it was a dark day. Oh, the whole Jewish nation was in mourning.

But ויאמר השם אל יהושע משרת משה — And Hashem said to Yehoshua the servant of Moshe, קום — Arise, get up. Because now is the time to start accomplishing big things – because we have to make up for the loss of the Satmerer Rav. And that means first and foremost to utilize the great men that we possess today. Because we still have great men and we should live with them; we should live in their shade and grow as a result of their presence.

Q:
Even the Litvishe Rabbonim recognize today that the Satmerer Rebbe is a tzadik ha’dor. So why aren’t they also shouting out against certain things the same way the Satmerer Rebbe does?
A:
And the answer is that to shout out requires not only conviction but it requires courage as well. And therefore, there are alot of people who believe in certain principles but they don’t want to put themselves out. They don’t have the level of mesiras nefesh needed to fight for these principles. Look, sometimes it can be quite uncomfortable. Therefore it’s understandable that even people who agree with the Satmerer Rav are not in the mood to expose themselves to public opprobrium.

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Yartzeit of the Satmerer Rav

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Sin of Smoking
Q:
Is it against the Torah to start smoking?

A:
The Alter of Slabodka was once asked, what’s the first mitzvah of the Torah? So he said – he said it in litvish: Nebuk dur nisht – “Don’t be a fool.” That’s the first commandment of the Torah – don’t be a fool. Anybody who’s a fool is a choiteh.

If a person starts fooling around with drugs, he’s a sinner – a very big choteih. So you’ll say what did he do wrong? Where does it say that drugs are ossur? It’s a glatt kosher drug; he’s not eating treif. What of it?

What of it?! It’s a glatt kosher funeral. A man jumps off a roof and he says it’s glatt kosher to jump off a roof. It’s as ossur as could be. ושמרתם את נפשותיכם – Hashem says, “I’m lending you your body. It’s not your body – I’m lending it.” And a sho’el is chayav b’onsim. If you borrow something you have to pay for whatever goes wrong. Let’s say if I lend you a watch, so now you have to guard my watch. You can’t throw it around. “I’ll lend you the body,” says Hashem, “so you have to guard it.”

Now, here’s a person who start smoking; he takes a pack. On the package it says, if you start smoking, you should know it can be dangerous for your lungs, emphysema, cancer and so on. And this meshuganer lights a cigarette. So Hashem says “Look, it’s a mitzvah to have some common sense. You don’t have common sense – therefore you’re a very great choiteh.” And therefore anybody who smokes is a very great choiteh.

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Sin of Smoking
Vaera – Monday

Rav Avigdor Miller on Moods
Q:
What do you say about a person who says that he gets “moody” sometimes? What’s the meaning of being “moody”?

A:
Moody actually means yielding to the yetzer hara. A man must at all times be under control. He has to know he is an eved Hashem and he must be in control. Imagine a man sitting at the steering wheel of a car and he’s driving on the thruway, a big, busy road, and he decides to go into a mood.

Now, life is a highway. And the highway is more dangerous than any road that you’ll ever travel with a car. We cannot afford to yield to moods. At all times a person must know first and foremost that he is standing lifnei Hashem and he’s responsible for his behavior – and included in your behavior is your moods. You are responsible to Hashem. You cannot yield to atzvus, to sadness. No; sadness is a yetzer hara. You can’t yield to atzlus, to laziness; that’s also a yetzer hara.

A man should always be in a good mood. That’s also a form of bechira, of choosing the right path in life. You should always be in a cheerful mood. Be a samei’ach b’chelko – a man should be happy with Hashem at all times. אשרי העם שהשם אלקיו – that’s the greatest happiness, that Hashem is our G-d. We have many thoughts to think, and each one of them is a guided thought – it’s up to you to guide your thoughts. There’s no such thing as getting into moods. You’re sitting at a steering wheel and you have in front of you all kinds of dials: if you want to think about something, dial ahavas Hashem. Or dial samei’ach b’chelko. Then dial morah shamayim. There are all kinds of things, all kinds of thoughts you can dial up.

But never take your eyes off the road and the steering wheel. Becoming moody just means to yield to the yetzer hara. And moody people are the victims of every kind of temptation and sin. It’s only when people become sad and morose or dejected, that’s how they become customers for the yetzer hara.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Moods

Rav Avigdor Miller on Fault Finding
Q:
What can a person do if he’s always focusing on his own faults and as a result he feels downhearted?

A:
If you’re a person who thinks of his own faults, you should be proud of yourself. You shouldn’t feel downhearted. If you know you have faults, then you’re a righteous person.

The trouble is when you don’t know you have faults – that’s the trouble! But if you really think you have faults, then Hakodosh Boruch Hu loves you. Anybody who recognizes his own chesronos, then Hakodosh Boruch Hu considers him a tzaddik. So this is just another case where people blame themselves for having good middos.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Fault Finding
Vaera – Thursday

Rav Avigdor Miller on Yoga or the Rabbi
Q:
If somebody suffers from emotional tension, is he allowed to go to Yoga courses or maybe to meditation, or to a kind of healing by healers where they put their hands on the head?

A:
These practitioners are in most cases ovdei avoda zara. It’s a form of idolatry. Al pi din, it’s strictly forbidden. TM which means transcedental garbage is a form of idolatry. It’s a form of Buddhism. People deceive themselves that it’s something intellectual. I know a case, a young man who became a TM man. So he went into business, and he told his mother that he’s succeeding in business. Why? Because he lights a punt and he chants something in front of the punt. So it’s nothing but avoda zara; it’s idol worship.

If people need relief from emotional tension, go to someone who’s capable of giving you advice. In most cases, a physician is capable of helping also. Not a psychologist. A physician can prescribe certain modes of living that will ease tension because he has a lot of experience. Physicians have dealt with these problems all the time, and before the advent of psychology, they were the ones who people came to. But as I’ve told you before, if you want to get to the root of the problems, seek out some venerable talmid chochom. And I want to tell you something. When you come, let’s say, to an old chassidishe rebbe, and you want to sit for an hour with him, just as you sit with a psychiatrist or a psychologist. If you want to sit there for forty-five minutes, it’s not yosher, it’s not right to expect him to do it for nothing. A psychiatrist will take fifty dollars. A psychologist takes thirty-five or more.

Now, you come along and you take out the time of this elderly man. He wants to learn. He wants to do something else. So what will he do? He’ll telescope for you the advice into a few minutes. So he’ll speak to you five minutes, and he’ll say, “My child, that’s my advice. There is no use repeating it. Go home and do it.” But you feel that it’s not enough for your needs. So if you want a session with him, don’t wait. Immediately take out the greenbacks. And a lot! You have to make it worth his while. It’s not mercenary. It’s not wrong at all! He’s doing a mitzvah!

People forget that. They think that a rabbi has to give time for nothing! So if you go to somebody who’s a reliable man, he may refuse money. But disregard it anyhow. Take out thirty-five dollars, put it on the table, and refuse to take it back. And then he’ll feel obligated to spend time with you. Now, most people who are worth something, will absolutely refuse any money, but at least let the money be on the table while you are talking. It’s important. You have to pay for services.

Now, if you come to me, all you get is five minutes and it won’t help any money. Besides, it’s not worth coming to me! The advice that you get from me is worth what you pay for it!

Rav Avigdor Miller on Yoga or the Rabbi

Rav Avigdor Miller on Naming Children After Uncles
Q:
What do you think about naming a baby after a not frum relative?

A:

Let’s say you have an uncle – he wasn’t a frum uncle – and his name was Nachman. So if you want to please your relatives, so you can call him Nachman. Why not? But you have in mind that you’re naming him after Rav Nachman in the gemara. Don’t think about this Uncle Nachman. There was a better Nachman that you should have in mind; the Rav Nachman who was a talmid of Shmuel. There was a Rav Nachman bar Yitzchok and a Rav Nachman bar Yaakov – there are plenty of good Nachmans in the world that you can have in mind.

So to please your relatives – especially if they’re rich relatives – so you call him Nachman. But you have in mind what you want to think about.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Naming Children After Uncles

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Kavod of Running for President
Q:
What can we learn from the lack of clarity in the thirty-six days since the election with regards to who will be the next President, Bush or Gore?
A:
What can we learn from the postponement of the recognition of the election of Bush? The answer is that we must learn that the world is rodef achar ha’kavod. People crave kavod and poor Gore couldn’t bear to see it slip out of his hands by such a small majority. It hurt him terribly.

Now if Gore would have been in competition with Bush about learning Mishnayis, let’s say, and Bush would have learned one more mesichta than Gore, then Gore wouldn’t have felt so bad about it. But Gore wanted this kavod. He’s a rodef achar ha’kavod.

You should know however that the kavod of being President is actually hevel va’rik. There nothing to it. Nothing to it at all. We said before that the time will come when even the best President will go down into the dust. He will be yoreid la’afar. And even though there might be statues and monuments, the statues can’t speak for them. They’re not here anymore. They became dust. And that’s in the best case scenario for them. Sometimes they’re not lucky enough to just be dust. They have to go to Gehenim too, you know.

And therefore it’s hevel va’rik. So we watch them run after this kavod and we must remind ourselves that it’s nothing. I’ll give you a mashal. In this rug right here there are millions of germs. Suppose I told you that the germs all came together and elected you President. And with a full majority. The popular vote and the Electoral College. And it’s not being contested. Would you be excited about that? ! Would you be excited about being chosen by millions of germs?!

So people voted for Bush or Gore. So what? It’s nothing but germs. It’s nothing at all! [Garbled] goyim! It’s nothing at all. Hashem wanted Bush to be in the White House for a certain amount of time so He put him there. He has His good reasons so He put him there. But it’s nothing to be excited about.

Now, Bush is surely excited about it. He’s terribly excited about it. Oy vey is he excited. And maybe we get excited as well. All right, could be. But Hashem is not excited about it at all. What is Hashem excited about? If a man is sitting and learning Mesillas Yesharim. A man who is making progress in learning gemara. If a girl is trying to become more and more of an oived Hashem. Someone who is midakdeik b’mitzvos. That’s what He loves! That’s what He’s excited about!

And therefore you have to know what to get excited about in this world. You have to know what really counts in this world. You have to learn to get excited only about what Hashem gets excited about. Shleimus, perfection in coming close to Hashem; greatness of character and greatness of seichel. That’s what counts. All the other things are hevel va’rik. They’re nothing at all.

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Kavod of Running for President

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Source of Emotional Problems
Q:
Are emotional problems considered yissurim?

A:
Certainly. But it depends how those emotional problems originated. Most emotional problems are the result of wrong middos. When people are נוקם ונוטר, they can’t forget what somebody once said to them, it boils in them and makes them sick. It’s only people who can forget, they can overlook what has been done to them, who can remain healthy. Just ignore it.

Like the gemara (Sanhedrin 7a) says: טוביה דשמע ואדיש – How happy is man who hears people saying things and he pays no attention, חלפוה בישתי מאה – a hundred evils will pass him by. You get excited that your mother-in-law said this or that?! You’re a fool; just forget about it! She didn’t know what she was talking about. Your wife said something to you? Forget about it – your wife doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Your husband said something – ignore it; he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Pay no attention.

So, “How happy is the man who hears and ignores.” Just ignore it. Because when a person doesn’t ignore it, it eats him up. And he gets emotional problems. So therefore a person has to think sensibly – think about Hakodosh Boruch Hu, how many good things He does for you in this world. Think about how lucky you are to have two good eyes – most of you have two good eyes. You have something to eat, you have a bed to sleep in at night. You have so many good things in this life, so try to enjoy them. ראה בטוב השם – “Look at the goodness of Hashem,” and then your character will often straighten out and most of your emotional problems will become nothing.

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Source of Emotional Problems

Rav Avigdor Miller on Choosing the Best From Everyone
Q:
When there are differences between different groups among the Jewish People, how are we to know who is right?

A:
Everyone is right. And everyone is wrong. Nobody is perfect in this world. We have to live with the principle of knowing that we ourselves are not altogether right. And we have to do our best to improve. Although we don’t have to adopt what everybody else does, and everyone should follow the customs and manners of his kehilla in the very best manner, nevertheless, he should know that there are things to be learned everywhere.

Even though you’re a chossid, when you walk into Telshe Yeshiva, you can learn good things there too. And if a Telshe bochur goes to Williamsburg, he can learn good things there, no question about it. Therefore, everyone should try to steal from others all the good things they can. Instead of going around and saying “Well, I saw in this shteibel that they talk during davening so it’s not so bad.” Or, “In the other place they daven fast, so I can also daven fast.” So this person goes around collecting all the wrong things from all the places. No! Go around collecting all the good things from everybody – that’s what they’re there for.

And that’s the person who will succeed. That’s what jealousy is for. Kinah means to be koneh, to acquire, to be jealous of all the good things that you find. “Why is he saying a long shemonah esrei and not me?” “Why does he treat his wife so nicely and I’m so gruff?” “Why does he go out to learn at night and I’m still wasting away?” And everybody should try to steal from everyone else all the good things that they find.

And thus the first mother, Chava, gave the first child ever born in this world the name Kayin which means to be koneh, to acquire. That’s our purpose – to acquire all the qualities that find favor in the eyes of Hashem. Because what Hakodosh Boruch Hu wants of us is shleimus – perfection. Shleimus in knowledge of the Torah, perfection in knowing His ways, perfection in recognizing Him in history and in nature. Perfection in character and self-control and perfection in kindliness to our fellow man. Every form of perfection that’s possible for a person to emulate, to imitate, to steal from all sides, he should do that. Whenever he comes into contact with people, whenever he sees anything good in the world, he should emulate it and decide that he wants to take it for himself. And when you live with that ideal of being a “koneh”, it means that you are emulating your Creator who is “koneh shamayim va’aretz”.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Choosing the Best From Everyone

Rav Avigdor Miller on A Time to Mourn
Q:
How do I take advantage of Tisha B’Av?

A:
Now we have to listen to the advice of a great man, Shlomo HaMelech. He’s giving us advice. לכל זמן – there’s a time for everything. Now, when you hear that on chol hamoed Sukkos, you just want to be yotzei the reading of the megillah. But you should listen well to these words of this wise man.

Listen to the words – “There’s a time for everything.” Now, if you look there he says, among the times there’s עת למות – there’s a time to die. What does that mean? You’re going to choose a time to die? You can’t choose a time to die. What does it mean there’s a time to die? There’s a time you should choose to die? No, that’s not the pshat. It means, there’s a time to accomplish something – even when you’re dying. Even as you die, Hashem is giving you an opportunity to accomplish in this world.

La’kol, for every kind of perfection of character, there’s a zman – there’s a time. We need so many things to sandpaper us to make us smooth and easy to deal with. To make us good-natured, calm and happy, we need many things. So Hashem sends things upon you. There are so many different times during the year and each one is an opportunity for perfection of the mind – each one of them accomplish a different kind of perfection on you. It’s up to you, however, to know that when the time comes, you have to make use of it.

Tisha B’Av you have to know is a time to sit down on the ground and weep. Not to look at the clock and see how many hours is it until supper time – no. You have to weep on Tisha B’Av. Weeping on Tisha B’Av is a shleimus, a perfection of character. I won’t go into that – it’s a very big subject. Weeping on Tisha B’Av is a great shleimus. לַאֲבֵלֵי צִיּוֹן לָתֵת לָהֶם פְּאֵר תחת אפר – the more eifer, the more you put ashes on you, the more pi’eir going to get, the more perfection of character. The more you mourn, the more your character will be perfect. פאר תחת אפר. You get perfection of character if you mourn.

We have to understand what the loss of the Beis Hamikdash means to us. Now, when I say Beis Hamikdash, I mean all that goes with it. The loss of the Sanhedrin in the lishkas hagazis is a tremendous irreparable loss. We have to realize also the loss of all the great personalities we had in the days of old. We don’t have the great teachers, the pathfinders, the guides that we had in the days of old.

We have to mourn for the loss of nevuah. Ahh, the prophets, the nevi’im! What a great gift that was, when the Shechina was shoreh b’Yisroel and the nevi’im spoke words of truth. It hurt very much, but they revealed to the people the core of the problems. The truth hurt, but that’s how people got better. It was the word of Hashem that enlightened the eyes of the people. And when the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed, nevuah ceased and we lost that great opportunity.

By the way, you don’t have to wait until Tisha B’Av. If you’re an ambitious man, so sometimes, let’s say, your wife went to a wedding, she’s coming home late at night – nobody’s home, so you take off your shoes, sit down on the floor and say tikkun chatzos. You never said tikkun chatzos once in your life?! Ah – it’s a pity! Sit down and mourn for the churban Beis Hamikdash. Never once? It’s in a siddur. When I was a boy, I said tikkun chatzos many times.

Sit down on the ground and try to weep for the churban Beis Hamikdash. In case you can’t do it, try it for one minute. Sit down for a minute before you go to sleep, on the floor. Sit down and mourn for the churban Beis Hamikdash. It’s a perfection. You never did it?! You sit down in the middle of the year – not on Tisha B’Av – in the middle of the year sit down on the ground and mourn for the churban Beis Hamikdash. “Only tzaddikim do that,” you’ll say. No! You don’t have to be a tzaddik! It’s expected of us, that we should mourn for the churban Beis Hamikdash.

We lost the Beis Hamikdash. Is that nothing to you? All the time we’re saying והשב את העבודה – all day long we say, והשב את העבודה, so it means you’re sorry you don’t have a Beis Hamikdash. יהי רצון מלפניך השם אלקינו שיבנה בית המקדש במהרה בימינו. So once in a while sit down on the floor at night. The best time is chatzos, but otherwise pick anytime. In the daytime, you can do it too. If you can, the best time is chatzos. Let’s say nobody’s home right now, or everyone is sleeping, and it’s chatzos, you should grab the opportunity – sit down and mourn for the Beis Hamikdash one minute. You want to say the whole thing? תבוא עליכם ברכה.

But of all the times of the year, Tisha B’Av is the time to mourn. עת לבכות – there’s a time to mourn. That’s Tisha B’Av. You have to mourn on Tisha B’Av.

Rav Avigdor Miller on A Time to Mourn

Rav Avigdor Miller on Motzai Tisha B’Av Lessons
Q:
The gemara tells us that Rabbi Tzaddok fasted forty years before the Churban Beis Hamikdash in order to try and help avert the coming catastrophe. But doesn’t that mean that was probably a depressed and gloomy tzaddik?

A:
I wasn’t there, but I guarantee he wasn’t. I guarantee he was more happy than we are with all of our breakfasts and lunches and suppers. Because it’s not breakfast and lunch and supper that makes you happy. איזהו עשיר השמח בחלקו – it’s the mind that makes you happy. And this tzaddik, he had to eat of course; every night he ate. And when he sat down at night, he enjoyed his little piece of bread to no end. A piece of bread and a cup of water, it tasted good! He never tasted anything as good as it tasted to him that night. Every night he enjoyed his supper. Don’t think Rebbi Tzodok sat down and said, “Feh!” No! He was looking forward to that piece of bread and he enjoyed it. He wasn’t gloomy at all!

That’s why I say, Motzai Tisha B’Av, don’t lose the opportunity. It’s a lesson you’re getting, to once more appreciate food. Tisha B’Av night we should utilize that. Motzai Tisha B’Av, as you sit down to your bread and your water, you should enjoy it no end, because the purpose of fasting is not merely to fast. It’s to let us know that Hakodosh Boruch Hu is the One who is gomel chassodim tovim, He is bestowing kindness. And therefore fasting in order to enjoy the food is not a wasted effort. You never heard that before, did you? Fasting in order to enjoy the food on Motzai Tisha B’Av! It’s a very important lesson. That’s one of the byproducts of a taanis tzibur.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Motzai Tisha B’Av Lessons

Rav Avigdor Miller on Moving to Yerushalayim During the Nine Days
Q:
Wouldn’t moving to Yerushalayim be the most genuine way to express our sadness and yearning that we speak about during these days?

A:
Moving to Yerushalayim is not that simple. First of all it’s a problem – what do you do with your sons? They might be drafted, and you’ll have to start dodging the army. So you’ll say, “Well, I’ll live in Yerushalayim but I’ll come back to America from time to time, and I’ll keep my American citizenship.” But it’s not that simple. Because sooner or later your children will be Israelis. What’s going to happen then? You have to keep them out of the army.

You have to know, by the way, that right now there’s a very great hatred against the Orthodox Jews in Eretz Yisroel. Right now they attacked a synagogue for the first time – and that’s only the beginning. There’s a big movement now among the chofshim, the irreligious Jews, to draft yeshiva boys into the army. And there’s a movement among the chofshim to draft women into the army again. Giyus banos is actual again. Everybody is requested to send letters or telegrams to Shimon Peres, the Prime Minister, and also to Yitzchak Shamir, the Deputy Prime Minister, protesting against any proposal to draft yeshiva boys and any proposal to draft women. It’s a very dangerous time because right now there’s a fire of sinah and anti-semitism against frum Jews in Eretz Yisroel. It just happens that right now it’s reached a peak and we have to hope it won’t get any worse. The attack on the shul is the worst thing that has happened so far.

Frum Jews are being put in jail for nothing, such as a little protest against chillul Shabbos, or a protest against immorality on posters. Therefore, it’s important for us, if possible, to keep this in mind and to send those letters to Shimon Peres, the Prime Minister, and Yitzchak Shamir, the deputy.

Now, if you’re able to make a living and your children are settled let’s say in America, in yeshivos, in a yeshiva world and a frum environment, and you yourself want to move to Yerushalayim. So if you can support yourself, why not? However, if your presence in America is needed because they need a frum father or a frum zeida or a frum mother or bubba to watch over them – that’s how it is; many times if the parents or grandparents are not around then things happen in the family with the children. They need a kind word or a strict word from the parents to manage things properly, so maybe you can’t go.

Also, people should go to Eretz Yisroel and they become dependent on support from America? I don’t approve of that. If you have funds, yes, but to go there and then start writing letters to your American friends to support you, I don’t believe in that.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Moving to Yerushalayim During the Nine Days

Rav Avigdor Miller on Tefillin for Women
Q:
If tzitizis and tefillin are really so beneficial like you spoke about tonight, why don’t women use them? And what do they have instead?

A:
The truth is women do have it, because when men put on tzitzis and tefillin, they’re not putting it on for themselves. That’s absolutely not true. Every father puts on tzitzis and tefillin for all of his children and for his wife, too. There’s no question that tzitzis and tefillin are the property of the Am Yisroel. But, more precisely, the family shares in all the mitzvos. So while he’s putting on tzitzis and tefillin in the shul let’s say, and his wife is taking care of the children at home – somebody has to remain at home; he couldn’t go to the synagogue if she weren’t home – so there’s no question that it’s her tzitzis and her tefillin too.

That’s the way to understand it. It’s silly otherwise! And when he comes to study Torah in the evening, who will babysit? And therefore, she has one hundred percent partnership in all that he does. And she has an edge on him – she doesn’t have to do it! And still she gets a full partnership in everything that he does. There’s no question that this is the case. I’m not saying this because it’s America or because it’s the spirit of the times; I’m saying it because it’s the truth.

However, if that’s the case, then why do we make a bracha in the morning שלא עשני אשה – that He didn’t make me a woman? If the woman gets a full share in the work without doing anything what are thanking Hashem for? The answer is מגלגלין זכות על ידי זכאי – it certainly is a privilege that you should be able to do it for your wife. Now, you can’t stay home – you’re not able to nurse the babies. In the olden days there were no bottles, so your wife had to do the job. So somebody had to put on tallis and tefillin – and you’re the man so you do it. But it’s a privilege, and that’s why the man says that bracha. But she gets a full share in all the mitzvos, absolutely.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Tefillin for Women

Rav Avigdor Miller on Becoming Socially Acceptable
Q:
How can a person refrain from speaking lashon hara without becoming a social outcast?

A:
It means, this person thinks in order to be a me’urav bein habri’yos, to be acceptable to people, he has to speak lashon hara. But it’s not true; on the contrary he’ll be more acceptable when people see that he guards his tongue against criticism. When people see that you don’t belittle anybody, people will like you for that.

You should know, that a man who shows good character, or a woman who shows good character, is well liked. If a woman sits on the telephone and is catty and talks against people, so all of the other parties may be polite to her, but they’re thinking, “What a nasty person she is.” Therefore, middos tovos always pay off; good character pays off. So the question is entirely out of place. By refraining from lashon hara you become socially acceptable and popular, and people will love you.

Of course, if you’ll keep your mouth shut when you should say kind words, then of course you’re not me’urav bein habri’yos. When people are in distress, you should say a few kind words. You should encourage somebody, even if they didn’t ask you for it. People need encouragement and therefore kind words always are in place.

And so, silence is required sometimes when there’s a peril that you might be saying the wrong thing, but when the right thing is required, good words are certainly rewarded by Hakodosh Boruch Hu. Like it says: הנותן פרוטה לעני מתברך בשש ברכות, והמפייסו בדברים מתברך בי”א ברכות – When you give a coin to a poor person you receive six blessings from Hashem, but if you encourage him with words you receive eleven blessings.

And so, if keep your mouth closed and avoid lashon hara and criticism, people will love you – you won’t become an outcast. And if you open your mouth only for good things, you’re even better off.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Becoming Socially Acceptable

Rav Avigdor Miller on Self Confidence
Q:
What practical counsel can be given to a ben Torah, or to anybody else, to aid him in building up his self confidence?

A:
Self confidence must be built up on the basis of good sense – and good sense means when people understand the issues of life. When you don’t understand what’s important in life, so sometimes you become frustrated because you are envious of things that are worthless. You have criteria that are meaningless and you allow yourself to be discouraged because you don’t measure up to these criteria.

But suppose you learn and understand how important it is to know Torah. Let’s say you learn a perek gemara and you know it well inside; you can say it without hesitation. Maybe even two or three perakim. Then you know you’re somebody! As you walk on the avenue, you are משכמו ולמעלה, you know you’re something; from your shoulders up, you’re higher than anyone else. It makes no difference what others think because you know what’s really important and that gives you self confidence.

However, if you don’t know what Torah means, if you don’t appreciate the greatness of Torah, you can be a big lamdan and still you’ll cringe in the presence of amei ha’aretz. You can be a big oived Hashem, but if you don’t appreciate your greatness then you’ll have no self-confidence. It’s because you have no criteria. When people know that righteousness, decency, emes, politeness, chessed and yiras shamayim are above all, that they are the jewels of a man’s character and of a woman’s character, then these people can hold their heads high in pride knowing that they are the ones who are considered important in the world.

Therefore, self confidence has to be built on values. You must learn the true values and aspire to gain them. If you are a Jew, that should be the first basis for self confidence, “I am from the Am Hashem!” If somebody never learned to respect himself as a Jew, he’ll be bashful; he’ll try to hide his identity among the umos ha’olam, when he comes among gentiles or among irreligious Jews. But when somebody appreciates what’s important, when he learns what it means to be chosen, the bechirai Hashem – the priests of Hakodosh Boruch Hu, the ones that Hakodosh Boruch Hu loves and has elevated among all the nations, אשר בחר בנו מכל העמים, ורוממנו מכל לשון – He elevated us among all the nations; once a person understands that, so every Jew has a reason to be proud. It’s only those who don’t understand that, who don’t have the true criteria, those are the ones who are lacking in self confidence.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Self Confidence

Rav Avigdor Miller on Bungalow Marriages
Q:
Is it proper this bungalow style vacation where the wife sees her husband only on Shabbos?

A:
And the answer is, if it’s a benefit for the children then it’s proper. Because עמלנו, אלו הבנים – “All of our work is our children.” If the children in the bungalow can have a better environment than in the city, if they can have a very good rebbe, and very good chaveirim or chaveiros, then it’s worth it.

The only criterion is how much ruchniyus will the children gain. And on that basis this kind of arrangement is justified.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Bungalow Marriages

Rav Avigdor Miller on Nekama and Chassidus
Q:
It says in this week’s parsha, נקום נקמת בני ישראל – “Take revenge on behalf of the Am Yisroel” (Matos 31:2). Does that mean that Baruch Goldstein did what was right when he killed Arabs in Chevron? (Baruch Goldstein was an American-Israeli Jew living in Kiryat Arba who killed 29 Muslims who were praying in the Me’aras Hamachpeila on Purim morning 1994. He was immediately set upon by survivors of the shooting attack and beaten to death)

A:
The answer is that it was not right. Because he caused a very great trouble for us. Everything has to be done with the kavanah, with an eye to what’s going to be the result. That’s the rule of the Mesillas Yesharim when it comes to chassidus, when it comes to going beyond the line of duty. Chassidus has to lead to good results. If what he did results in justifying the Arabs in doing similar things against us, chalilah, then it wasn’t correct. And even that he should lose his life is a terrible loss. He was an Orthodox doctor; he was doing good things for frum Jews. We want him alive! He should be alive now – he shouldn’t have sacrificed his life. Whatever his intention was, it doesn’t justify him losing his life. We needed him.

But besides that, it wasn’t right because he caused a great deal of trouble for us. Now, the Arabs will say, “We’re doing the same thing that he did to us,” and therefore what he did was unjustified. Any chassidus, any frum action, has to be measured by what’s going to be the result. If the results are not desirable then it’s not chassidus. It’s a mistake.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Nekama and Chassidus

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Mussar of Mosquitoes
Q:
What lesson should we learn from the mosquitoes and the diseases that they sometimes carry?
A:
For us the lesson is as follows. Many people who should be sitting in the Yeshivos and the Batei Midrashim in the evenings and whenever they have spare time, are instead going out and wandering around in places they shouldn’t be. Who said that you should be walking around in the parks and sitting on the stoops wasting your time?! Sunday, for instance. Sunday you have a day off. They could be sitting all day in the yeshiva. But no, instead they’re wandering around all day in the fields, in the parks, and they’re getting bit by mosquitoes.

Now a simple bite should be enough of a warning. But sometimes people ignore the simple warnings. And so they get sick. Some people, chas v’shalom, get lyme disease, from lying in the grass instead of sitting at the shtender. And it’s a lesson they should make use of.

They should be at home making use of their lives when they have spare time. You wait a whole week for that one day off from your job. So you should be going to the yeshiva on Sunday. Don’t most people have off on Sunday? So go to the yeshiva and take along breakfast and lunch and stay the whole day in the yeshiva. Stay there all day long and come home for supper. That’s how you should live. Be a kollel man once a week. But no, you have to go wandering in the country, in the woods where the deer are spreading disease and there are ticks. Sometimes the blades of grass are poisoned with dangerous germs. And the children wander there too. So you want to wander in the woods and sit on the grass as if you forgot that you’re in this world to accomplish something with your life?!

So, make sure to use the mosquitoes as a lesson, a reminder, of what you’re here in this world for – that you’re responsible for spending your leisure time in the best way possible.

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Mussar of Mosquitoes

Rav Avigdor Miller on Watching Sports
Q:
What is wrong with someone who follows sports and what limits are required for someone who does?

A:
We must understand that the ideal of following sports has been imported from the gentile world. Jews have no interest in sports. Jews have interest in maintaining their health, they have interests in maintaining their livelihood, and they have interest also in maintaining their happiness. Now, I added the last one because it could be that in order to make yourself more happy you might play ball – you might engage in some sport. But to be a follower of sports means that you are a follower of the gentile nations. There is no such ideal as sports among Jews. And there never was. Even the common people in the days of Rashi didn’t know of sports. Yes, children played. And I’m sure there were adults who wasted some time too, but the idea of sports as it was practiced among th gentiles was entirely alien to Jews. Whether the sport consists of watching two people punch each other in a ring, or seeing horses in a race, or people trying to hit a little ball with a club, whatever it is, all these ideals are imported from the gentile world.

Football and basketball; if you play it yourself it’s good exercise. But if you go someplace and you pay admission – or even if you go in for free – to watch these things, then it’s a sign that you identify with the outside world. Which world? The world that used to have gladiators and arenas, where men fought each other to the death. The world that used to watch men being cast to the lions in the Roman arenas. Chariot races, hippodromes, theatres, military contests – all these are the inheritance of the nations of the world.

Now, the Jews have plenty of good times – there’s a lot of fun you can have . And children can play, and adults if they wish can also play; but not as an ideal. אל תשמח ישראל אל גיל כעמים – Yisroel, do not rejoice in the fun of the nations (Hoshea 9:1). Rejoice, yes! But not the way the nations rejoice. We are a separate nation and we shouldn’t emulate them. And therefore, when Jews identify with gentiles in anything, they have cut off their identity with the Holy Nation, the Am Yisroel.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Watching Sports

Rav Avigdor Miller on Using My Time for the Perfection of Others
Q:
Is it worth it to spend my own time, time that I could be using for learning, to teach others?

A:
The question is, how much are you willing to sacrifice from your own perfection for the sake of the great perfection of zchus harabim? Zchus harabim means benefiting the public and it’s the greatest thing that can be done.

​I’ll quote to you what the Chovos Halvovos says of this great deed of helping bring the public back to Judaism, back to avodas Hashem. He says like this: “No matter how perfect you are in all the forms of shleimus, in every kind of perfection, it is as nothing compared to the perfection that comes from causing the multitude to become virtuous.” And he explains that it’s because all of their subsequent good deeds are credited to your account. So it pays.

Of course, you have an alternative. You can retire to the yeshiva and spend your life on your own perfection, which is certainly not a silly thing to do. Not everybody has the opportunity to be mezakeh es harabbim. But if you have the opportunity and you’re suited for it, then it’s a big zchus.

If you’re suited for it! Many times young fellows go out from the yeshiva to help the rabim – it’s like a green apple. It’s too soon to pick it from the tree and you have nothing yet to teach others. You have to make sure that you’re ripe. So, remain in the yeshiva until you’re well on in years, until you’re full and juicy and then go out and do what you can with the public. But don’t leave before you yourself have accomplished what you have to accomplish.

And that’s the tragedy of American yeshivos (this Q&A was recorded in 1972). People go out – and they have no message for the world. They’re still unripe. And the truth is, they get spoiled quickly and they help nobody else.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Using My Time for the Perfection of Others

Rav Avigdor Miller on Psychiatrists
Q:
You say that we should avoid speaking to fools because their words make foolish impressions on our minds. Does this mean that a psychiatrist should not be a psychiatrist because he’s going to constantly hear these crazy things from people?

A:
You have too much faith in psychiatrists. Look, when the patient is lying on the couch, let’s say, or sitting in the chair, and the psychiatrist, he’s sitting next to him, listening. What is he thinking about? He’s thinking, “How much should I charge this man?” Now, excuse me for being so crude, but that’s what he’s thinking. Or he’s thinking, “What should I have for supper tonight?”

Once in a while, he listens. And he has clichés. He knows what to say; he has his clichés. He has certain clichés with which to answer. He hears a few words and right away, he’s going to tell him that he has a certain holdover, a juvenile holdover. These are things that he says over and over again to his patients.

You shouldn’t have such faith in them that they’re going to analyze you down to your roots. They have to say something that’s going to impress you.

Now, you have to forgive me, but I’m a very big apikoress of psychology and psychiatry, except for the medicines that they administer. So I don’t think that he’s impressed at all by the people talking to him. To the contrary – he sees how sick they are or how they silly they are. They come to him and spend good money relating their ailments, so I don’t think he’s impressed by it. I think on the contrary, he’s repelled by it when he sees the results of such mentalities.

However, like I said before, no one has to accept anything I say here. Anything that I say is just put out for your option.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Psychiatrists

Rav Avigdor Miller on Why Serving Your Rebbe Is Greater Than Learning From Him

Q:
It says that גדולה שימושה יותר מלימודה – serving a talmid chochom is greater than learning Torah from him. But if תלמוד תורה כנגד כולם, if learning Torah is better than any mitzvah, so why is serving your rebbe better than learning?

A:
שימושה של תורה here means to serve talmidei chachamim and to be around them as much as possible in their daily activities. When you serve talmidei chachomim – I’m talking about the old ones who were called talmidei chachomim – so everything they did was Torah. The way they spoke, the way they walked, everything! So you saw Torah in practice. When you see Torah l’maaseh, in practice, so it’s more effective than when you hear Torah with your mind. In your mind, it’s just like a chalom, a dream; too often it’s just far off ideals. It’s imagination, a yediah rechokah. But when you look at a tzaddik gamur, a real talmid chochom, so everything he does is done according to the ideals of the Torah. Whatever he says is Torah. Even the way he looks at things is Torah; his t’nuos, his motions were Torah.

Now, I won’t say that today that we have people who are exactly like that, but even today there are plenty of tzaddikim that by spending time with them, you’re going to learn things l’maaseh, things that you can never learn from seforim. You heard it once maybe, you read it once in a sefer, but it had a very weak effect on you. But שימושה של תורה, when you learn Torah by means of being in contact with people who actually live the Torah, that’s a whole different way of learning how to live a Torah life. It’s so much more effective, and that’s why שימושה, coming in contact with tzadikim and learning Torah by watching them, is גדול מלימודה, it’s greater than learning from seforim.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Why Serving Your Rebbe Is Greater Than Learning From Him

Rav Avigdor Miller on Loyalty to America
Q:
Should a person feel loyalty to America, and if yes, how should that loyalty be expressed?

A:
Should a person feel loyalty, let’s say, to a place where he stopped when it was raining and they gave him a roof over his head? Should you be loyal to the one who gives you that place to stay dry? Certainly! You have a place of refuge from the rain and you should be grateful for that.

Now, America is a place of refuge for us. We came here from the lands of persecution. Not only those who came as a result of Hitler, but even those who came earlier, from Czarist Russia and other European countries – they came to a land of equal opportunity. They were amazed at the friendliness here. Our fathers, when they came to America they were overjoyed. They kissed the earth in happiness.

The American flag is a sign of decency and compassion. That’s what it is. Of course, it’s only a symbol, but it’s a symbol of what Hakodosh Boruch Hu is doing to us. America is a great gift to us from Hakodosh Boruch Hu.

And therefore it’s not America that we have to love; we have to love Hashem who gave us America! And if Hakodosh Boruch Hu gives you Australia, then you have to love Hakodosh Boruch Hu who is giving you Australia.

Now, there’s a principle: בירא דשתית מיניה, if you drink from a well, לא תשדי היה קלא, don’t throw dirt into it (Bava Kama 92b). You have to preserve that well. And even though a well is an inanimate object, you should show gratitude to it. It’s a principle – you must show gratitude even to an inanimate object. That’s a principle of the gemara! A well from which you drank, don’t spit into it and don’t throw dirt into it. Show gratitude towards the well.

And so all of us should be grateful to America. But it’s not America – it’s Hashem who gave the gift to us. So let’s try to maintain that gift and make sure that the liberals don’t ruin it. Because they’re trying their best. They’re encouraging Russia to expand into South America. Dukakis says he sees nothing wrong with Russia having client states in Central and South America. You hear that? He sees nothing wrong with that! That’s a real rasha; Dukakis is a real meshugener. And taxes will go up if he gets in – they’ll go way up! You have no idea how big the taxes will be! He’s keeping quiet about it right now, but he already promised all the minorities that he’s going to raise taxes in order to give them our money. “A lot of money you’re going to get from me,” he promised them. He’s promising on the quiet – nobody should know about it however; it’s not good for elections.

And so certainly we have to be loyal and grateful to America. But America is only a symbol – who’s America after all? This goy or that goy? America is Hakodosh Boruch Hu’s gift to us and it’s our responsibility to appreciate that gift. And therefore we have to cooperate with America and try to preserve it.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Loyalty to America

Rav Avigdor Miller on The One Minute Mourning
Q:
Should I be saying tikun chatzos during this time of the year – the Three Weeks?

A:
Tikun Chatzos is a good thing, but don’t just daven it up. I would say that it’s a good idea to just sit down on the floor before you go to sleep – even for a minute. Do it after your wife falls asleep – or after your husband falls asleep – so that they won’t think you’ve gone crazy. But sit on the floor in aveilus for the Churban Beis Ha’mikdash, mourning for the destruction, for a full minute and then go to sleep.

A minute is also good enough. Don’t think it’s a small thing. When I was a boy I used to say tikun chatzos. But now – even better – sit on the floor for a moment and think about what we’re missing. A minute for the Churban Beis Ha’mikdash and then go to sleep. This is a very good eitzah you’re hearing now – a very important piece of advice.

Rav Avigdor Miller on The One Minute Mourning

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Generation of the Wilderness
Q:
How can we understand the fact that dor hamidbar witnessed so many nissim in Mitzrayim and in the Midbar and still they tested Hashem as it says: וינסו אותי זה עשר פעמים ולא שמעו בקולי – “And they tested Me these ten times, and they have not listened to My voice” (Bamidbar 14:22)?

A:
How can we understand that you have people standing on the edge of a roof and you tell them, “Jump off the roof and Hashem will protect you,” and they ignore you? Let’s say you’re a navi and you tell them, כה אמר השם – So said Hashem: ‘Jump off the roof!’ Now suppose some don’t want to jump. What do you say about them? That they don’t believe in Hashem? That they’re big resha’im?

They came the edge to Eretz Canaan and they sent out spies. So now the meraglim came back and they told the people, “These people are living in strong fortified cities.” Some of these nations had thousands of chariots. It was like jumping off a roof. It was certain death.

Of course, tzaddikim are able to say, “No, we trust in Hashem.” But can you blame people who were afraid? So you’ll ask me what did they think? So I’ll ask you: What does the person standing on the roof think? They thought that Moshe Rabbeinu was making a mistake. Moshe Rabbeinu is not telling us what Hashem wants. Moshe Rabbeinu is stubborn. He wants to carry out his plans, only Hakadosh Baruch Hu favors Moshe Rabbeinu, He likes him so much because he’s an eved ne’eman, so He allows him to carry out his plan. But the plans are no good for us; we’re not interested in jumping off a roof right now. And if someone else would take over with different plans, maybe Hashem would favor those plans more.

It’s easy for us to sit back now. We sit in a comfortable place, in an air-conditioned house, and we have plenty to eat – so we’re thinking, “The mann! Why shouldn’t they eat mann? Why were they misonenim, complaining? Why did they complain against the mann? Well, why don’t you try to eat every day for two weeks the same kind of food. So if you have a good imagination and you’re able to be mechadesh in your thoughts that you’re eating cherries and you’re eating fried lamb, mutton; so you think of all kinds of good tastes and Hakodosh Boruch Hu sees you’re working hard, so He rewards your imagination and you feel something like those tastes.

But suppose it’s too hard to think about such things. So you’re faced by l’shad hashemen and tzapichis b’dvash, that’s all. Every day, tzapichis b’dvash and l’shad shemen – how could you take it?! You wouldn’t last even two weeks! You can’t blame them. And therefore, all the blames that were said, it was only because they were so great that Hashem used them as a sounding board to teach the world that you shouldn’t be complainers.

But actually, you couldn’t blame them for complaining. The dor hamidbar you have to know who they were they. Do you want to know who they were? Not what Moshe Rabbeinu said – no! If you want to know about the dor hamidbar so you listen to what Bila’am said: לא הביט אָוֶן בְּיַֽעֲקֹב וְלֹֽא רָאָה עָמָל בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל – “Hashem sees no wrong in them” (Bamidbar 23:21). Bila’am said the truth. Only that Moshe Rabbeinu didn’t want to say the truth. He wanted to criticize them, to make them better and better. But the truth was like what Bila’am said: יודע דעת עליון – he knew the uppermost truth, the highest truth. The highest truth is that the Am Yisrael is perfect despite all the criticisms. The world learnt in the cheder to criticize the dor hamidbar, and they never outgrew the cheder Torah. Everybody’s miffed at them. Every Friday night you’re saying, הם לא ידעו דרכי – “They didn’t know My ways.” So you’re patting yourself on the shoulders: “I’m okay! I know His ways,” you’re thinking, “but they, the dor hamidbar, they were all trouble.” It’s exactly the opposite – you don’t understand pshat in that possuk. Why don’t you try mann for two weeks!

And so we have to know that although the Torah criticizes them, there was a purpose there – to make them better and better, to make them perfect. But what Hashem put into Bila’am’s mouth, that’s the real emes, that’s the real truth.

Rav Avigdor Miller on The Generation of the Wilderness

Rav Avigdor Miller on Proving the Authenticity of the Torah
Q:
Can you prove the authenticity of the Torah?

A:
So we say to the questioner, you have the floor, please disprove it. Please disprove the authenticity of our Torah. The Torah is here. Here it is, and here we are. We are the nation that claims that our fathers gave us this Torah that they received from their fathers, and we received a tradition that Moshe our teacher gave it to them, and our entire nation stood at Har Sinai and they heard Hakodosh Boruch Hu speak to Moshe and give him a mandate in their presence. “Moshe Rabbeinu, you’re going to speak to this people for Me from now on.”

And therefore, Moshe Rabbeinu when he gave us the Torah was mandated by Hakodosh Boruch Hu in the presence of 600,000 males between 20 and 60 years of age – not to mention the elderly ones, the young ones and the women. That’s our claim; no nation in the world ever claimed such a thing. The Mohammedans don’t make that claim about the Koran. Of course, the Mohammedans claim that the Bible is true because the Jews say so. Christians also claim the Bible is true, because the Jews say so. But when it comes to their books, they make no such claims. Who else? The Vikings? They didn’t have any traditions. The Buddhists don’t have any traditions, they made no such claims.

We are the only ones who claim that Hakodosh Boruch Hu gave it to us. And if you’ll ask, how do we know that it’s true? So we’ll ask you a question: How do you know that there was a George Washington? Prove George Washington. So you say there are books. We also have books. We have books, too. So you say Washington was recent and our claims are old. Is there anybody around here saw George Washington? Did anybody here ever see a man who saw George Washington? How do you know he was there? It’s emunah; you believe people. So should we believe a nation of disorderly people – there were so many shikurim among them, and so many club wielders, so many roughnecks. Such a nation testifies that George Washington was present, and we accept their testimony. Well, you say, there are so many documents; there are a lot of documents.

You want documents? Josephus wrote two thousand years ago a big document. So that’s thousands of years ago, so that’s as good evidence as any evidence that you’ll produce for anything that happened three hundred years ago in America.

Therefore we are standing on solid ground, we have a historic tradition. We are not one person, we are a nation. And our nation always was united behind this. Up until a hundred and fifty years ago we never had a single Jew who disbelieved that Moshe received the Torah from Hashem. Not the Karaites, not the Sadducees, none of them disbelieved that – they all believed. There wasn’t a single Jew up to the time of the German assimilationists and reformers one hundred fifty years ago who disbelieved in the Torah. So our entire nation was behind this tradition. Not to mention the fact that the Christians and Mohammedans all say the same thing about our Torah, that we received the Torah.

So therefore if anybody wants to bring proofs against the authenticity of the Torah, we’ll give him the floor.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Proving the Authenticity of the Torah

Rav Avigdor Miller on How to Get My Children Out of the Rut
Q:
How do we ensure that our children shouldn’t fall into a rut of just doing mitzvos by rote and not really appreciating mitzvos and avodas Hashem?

A:
It’s a big problem this person raises; it’s a serious problem, because that’s exactly what’s happening. Here you have a father who is a ba’al teshuva, he came from the outside. He has a whole closet full of skeletons. His mother and his father, his siblings, and his cousins – all of them! He’s ashamed to show them. You know that we have fine yeshiva men, kollel men, who are ashamed that anyone should find out what relatives they have. It’s a fact. Because they have relatives, we know they do.

And so he fought his way back to Torah and he became a big idealist and he married. He married a girl who is also an idealist. But now the children are born into it, and now begins the old process of getting into a rut again. Children are in the rut. Absolutely, it’s a problem.

And how to fight against it? It’s not simple but it most definitely can be done. You have to keep on pouring idealism into them. It’s not done, that’s the problem. You have to pour idealism into them! Fire has to be poured into them! Hislahavus, enthusiasm! You have to glamorize everything. Everything connected to Torah and avodas Hashem has to glamorized. It could be done, but it won’t happen on its own – it has to be done. All the time you must be busy pouring into the heads of your children more and more enthusiasm about Hashem.

Rav Avigdor Miller on How to Get My Children Out of the Rut

Rav Avigdor Miller on How to Disprove Evolution
Q:
How can we prove that evolution is false?

A:
That’s a good question. And the answer is, in at least a hundred thousand ways. Actually, I should say in a million ways, but I’ll just quote one at random.

Why is it that the milk of every species of mammal is exactly suited to that species? How did it happen that cows produce the very best milk for little calves, and that donkeys produce the very best milk for little donkeys, and that whales produce the very best milk for little whales. The milk of every mammal is different and of all the numberless mammals in this world, you won’t find one that has to go to a different species in order to get better milk.

Now, the composition of milk is very complicated. Even with our special abilities today, the laboratories cannot exactly duplicate any one kind of natural milk. There are so many components to milk, and even if they could duplicate it, each component is a complicated chemical product. Every kind of milk is a mixture of many different ingredients, each milk, with all its components, is the very best that is needed for that species of animal.

So how did that happen? Could an accident like that just happen even if I would grant you a billion years? Even that just one species should produce milk suited to its own kind would be a miracle of astronomical improbability. That it should happen even once that an animal could produce milk is so far out of the realm of possibility that only a lunatic would claim such a thing – or an evolutionist.

How could milk come into being by accident? What is milk? Just a mixture of wastes? Just a mixture of body fluids that happen to mix and to form milk? There’s a factory – the mammary glands; we call them milk glands – that dwarf the biggest DuPont plant in its complexity. In every cat that produces milk, the milk glands are a miracle. Not one miracle – it’s a miracle upon miracle. But that this miracle should happen to so many different kinds of animals, and not only it happened, but it happened in exactly the right formula, in exactly the right composition, so that cats produce the best milk for kittens and rhinoceroses produce the very best milk for little rhinoceroses. That’s a planned miracle; it’s a purposeful miracle. It’s a world-plan of miracles; it’s a master universal plan.

And therefore, anybody who will say that it’s a result of accidental mutations is indulging in wishful thinking of the most unrealistic kind. It’s only people who know nothing about the so-called process of evolution, people who think that things automatically have to turn out in the best possible way, these are the people who optimistically can walk blindly through their lives and think that evolution takes care of everything. But responsible people who have to give some plausibility to the theory, and they have to seek some method by which it operates, they are worried about how milk came into being. Worried – I’m not saying that they don’t sleep at night, but when they’re faced by such a problem – it’s a real problem for them. Milk is a real problem for the evolutionists! And therefore, it should be a problem to everybody. It’s an unsolvable problem and it can never be solved except by the understanding that there was one master chemist and designer that caused everything to come into being.

Now, I said there are millions of proofs. This is only one. We could ask such questions about everything else. Another one: How is it that that all seeds come loose when they are ripe? That’s a question that nobody could answer. You could walk into the universities and knock them over with this question if they weren’t petrified like a stone. How is it that when the watermelon becomes ripe, it becomes loose so that when you eat the watermelon, the seeds shoot out on all sides in order to fall to the ground and to reproduce their kind? How is it that cantaloupe seeds are loose? As you sit in your garden and you wish to eat your cantaloupes, you scoop up the insides and throw them to the earth where they’re ready to procreate. When you’re eating an apple, the seeds fall from your mouth. They’re loose already. All over the world, seeds are flying. The seeds of the maple, the seeds of all the trees are loose. Some seeds are flying with little parachutes, some are flying with wings; they’re all loose.

How did that happen that in every species the seeds become loose? Is that an accident? Unthinking people say that the seed has to be loose, that’s all. But it wasn’t loose at the beginning; it was as tight as could be. It was attached firmly. And when a seed comes loose, it’s a very complicated process. Certain cells are formed, abscission cells, that cause the seed to gradually become loose. It takes place in a precise and carefully planned manner. There’s a mechanism there. So how is it that this perfect mechanism functions everywhere? It didn’t happen in only some watermelons! How is it that in all watermelons, the seeds become loose? In every one?! But not only in every one of the same species, but in all the species together. That’s a miracle! And it cannot be a result of accident. That’s a plan! The plan is that there should be the next generation of these plants and that’s why the seeds are loose. And it speaks as loudly as possible that there’s a planner with a capital P. And of such proofs, there are millions.

Rav Avigdor Miller on How to Disprove Evolution

Rav Avigdor Miller on Studying Kabalah
Q:
Is the study of kabalah, mysticism, an enhancement to the practical application of Torah?

A:
I want to tell you something about this subject. This is something that is an illustration of what we were talking about tonight. People are always looking for something else, something different than what they have.

What do you need mysticism for? Do you already enjoy and understand all that is nigleh, all that is revealed? Now, if you were a gadol b’Yisroel like Rabbi Akiva, and now you wanted, in addition to all of your Torah knowledge you wanted now to enter into the pardess of secret wisdom, all right. But there’s so much to learn before you go to the pardess so why should you even yearn for such things?! You know, there are so many secrets that are lying on the surface of the Torah that you don’t even begin to know! So many open things that are secrets to you!

And therefore, our first job is to spend our lives gaining all of that knowledge and fulfilling all the principles that are on the surface of the Torah. Anybody who calls me up on the phone and asks me if I’m giving any lectures in kabalah, or where can they learn kabalah – it’s mostly single girls; single girls living in Manhattan, they call me to say that they’re interested in studying kabalah – so the first thing I tell them is, “Learn how to be a Jew.” And then you’ll see that there are many other things that come before kabalah.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Studying Kabalah

Rav Avigdor Miller on Why We Itch and Scratch
Q:
Why did Hashem create the sensation of itching?

A:
Most itching is a kosher sensation. People have forgotten that up until recently, human beings were infested with parasites. Even the queen of France, when she took off her big high wig, an expensive wig, she had inside the wig a little mouse trap. Kings and queens had servants who used to take the king’s head in their lap, or the queen’s head in their lap, and examine their heads. Human beings were troubled with parasites all the time.

Now, a parasite, if you ignore it, burrows into the skin. And once it burrows into the skin, it becomes a problem. So Hakodosh Boruch Hu created a reaction of itching, so that you should scratch. The purpose of that itching sensation was to immediately to catch him at his first bite when he starts mining into you, and to decapitate him immediately. Your nails would scratch and immediately the parasite is finished.

It’s a wonderful creation, this ability to have fingernails. We don’t realize how precious our fingernails are to us. Of course, if you ever try to untie a tough shoelace after you cut your fingernails short, you’ll see how difficult it is. You need fingernails for everything. But for this time honored practice of picking off cooties, fingernails are especially beautiful. A wonderful invention! The itching sensation and fingernails were a wonderful combination.

Now sometimes there is a sensation that’s an imitation of a parasite, it’s a false itching; then a person should refrain from scratching because then scratching will only irritate the skin and aggravate the situation.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Why We Itch and Scratch

Rav Avigdor Miller on Why We Sleep
Q:
Why did Hashem create sleep if it’s such a waste of time?

A:
Why did He create hunger? It’s a waste of time to eat! Why did He create the necessity to go to the bathroom, it’s a waste of time!

It’s a good question – I’ll tell you why. Hakodosh Boruch Hu made this world for the purpose of recognizing Him. Now, how can people recognize Hashem when they’re so busy in this world? You’re thinking only of your own affairs and you forget about Hashem. So Hashem says, “I’m going to remind you of Me.” And so, you get hungry. You have to eat, you need food, and then when you get a piece of bread: “Oh, I thank You Hashem, what would I do without the bread?! I can’t live without bread.” And the bread causes you to be grateful, to love Hashem, and you’re fulfilling your purpose in the world.

Let’s say, a person is tired; he’s very tired, and his body gets worn out. And now he needs sleep to feel rested. Are you going to just sleep like a cat sleeps? So Hashem says, no. If you’re able to go to sleep, you have to thank Hashem for that. Some people can’t sleep; some people are sick and they can’t sleep. Sleep is a blessing and you have to thank Hashem for the sleep. That’s why He makes you tired. Say it with your mouth: “Ah geshmakeh pleasant night’s sleep!” It’s better than eating the most delicious things! In the morning you get up, and you’re refreshed, you’re a new person. מודה אני לפניך – “I thank You, Hashem.” So the sleep is the for purpose of causing people to be more grateful to Hashem.

That’s only one of the benefits of sleep. There are other benefits too, but this is one of the benefits of sleep that is included in the great program of making people more perfect in this world.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Why We Sleep

Rav Avigdor Miller on Cheating on Your Taxes
Q:
Does ואהבת לרעך כמוך apply to non-Jews as well? And if not, does that mean it’s permissible to cheat them in business or to lie on our tax returns?

A:
Now, you’re asking a few different questions here – three different questions, and each one has nothing to do with the other. First of all, it does not apply to non-Jews – it says “Love your fellow Jew.” Only your fellow Jew you have to love.

Now, don’t think it’s mean. Because although the gentiles may say they love everybody, you have to know that it’s just Christian phraseology – it’s not true; they don’t love anybody. It’s easy to say “Love everybody,” and “If he hits you on one cheek, turn the other cheek.” Do they turn the other cheek?! Hit a Christian, hit any Christian on one cheek, and see what happens. You’ll get it back!

But here we talk straight from the shoulder – we talk the truth. We have to be decent to everybody. The gemara is full of examples teaching us that – no question that you have to be decent to everybody. But love is not a cheap thing! You have to love your relatives, and our fellow Jews are our relatives. And it’s them we have to love.

Now, is it therefore permissible to cheat non-Jews? Certainly it’s not permissible! Gneivas da’as! You can’t deceive gentiles. You know what the gemara says? Listen to this: If a gentile comes into your butcher shop to buy chicken and you have one chicken that happened to die so it’s not kosher – it wasn’t shechted. But it looks the same; it’s the same quality meat. And now he came to buy a chicken in your butcher shop. So you’re not allowed to deceive him. Because he’s coming in to buy from you kosher chickens. Although kashrus means nothing to him, it’s forbidden for you to give him a non-kosher chicken. So that’s a separate question, nothing to do with the first question.

Now, your third question – can you be deceitful in your tax returns? That has nothing to do with loving non-Jews. It’s a question if it’s wrong to be dishonest to the government – that’s a different question. Certainly it’s wrong to be dishonest to the government. Of course, everybody is dishonest to the government, that we know. That’s why we have tax lawyers and accountants. That’s the business of accountants, to cheat the government as much as possible. But of course it’s wrong to be dishonest to the government. So one thing has nothing to do with the other.

I see we have a lot of good questions here but our time is up, so I want to thank you all for coming.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Cheating on Your Taxes

Rav Avigdor Miller on Daf Yomi
Q:
Should a ben-yeshivah attend a daf yomi shiur?

A:
You want to hear my opinion? I say no. And I’ll tell you why not. A yeshivah man has to shteig and daf yomi means you’re going to forget what you learned. If you learn one perek, you must learn it four times – at least. Don’t go away from that perek! הלומד ואינו חוזר כאילו זורע ואינו קוצר – “If you learn and you don’t review it’s like a person who plants but he never reaps.” It’s a pity. You plant a field with labor, with yegiah, and you never bother to reap what grows. And then, when you come back the next time it’s like new gemara to you. It’s a pity!

But if you review it, not only will you remember it better, you’ll understand it better. Go over the gemara again and again, again and again. It’s better to know a few mesichtas well, than to go through all of shas superficially and not remember anything.

Now, many balebatim – they won’t bother so much. And so, if they won’t bother to learn and review properly, so let them learn daf yomi and תבוא עליהם ברכה, they should be blessed. It’s a mitzvah to learn Torah – very good! Daf yomi is Torah.

But for a ben-yeshivah who wants to shteig, my advice is that it’s not for you. Of course, even a ben-yeshiva shouldn’t waste his time, and he should cover ground. You should have a bekius shiur too, but even the bekius shiur means you have to review constantly again and again and again and again – four times – before you go on further. And therefore it’s important for a yeshivah man to learn more deeply, more profoundly than just learning the daf and then moving on.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Daf Yomi
Shavuos 3:7-8

Rav Avigdor Miller on Rav Miller’s Davening
Q:
Why do you daven without any big noises and without any shaking?

A:
And the answer is, I was in Slabodka. And I looked at my rebbehs. My rebbehs, when they davened they stood still like trees. They were kulo machshava, they were all thought. Now, I’m not that, but I want to imitate them at least. And they were kulo machshava, they were thinking.

I told you a story about Rav Yisroel Salanter when he once came to Varsha (Warsaw) to visit the Gerrer Rebbi. He visited the Gerrer Rebbi and when he was finished, the Gerrer Rebbi accompanied him down to the street door. It was a chiddush! All of Warsaw knew that the Gerrer Rebbi had accompanied a litvack down to the street door. So a mob of Gerrer chassidim came to see this big tzadik. And they were following him in the street. If the Rebbi went down to the street door for him, he must be somebody!

They followed him till he came to a beis haknesses to daven Mincha. Oh, now we’re going to see a performance – we’re going to see a tzadik davening! Did you ever see a tzadik davening? I one time saw a tzadik davening – he was jumping up and down. Up and down! Jumping up and down with hisla’havus, with a fire of ahavas Hashem.

But Rav Yisroel stood still and didn’t move as he davened. And they were so terribly disappointed. Terribly disappointed! But there was one person who was standing near him, watching him, and he was watching his forehead. And the veins on his head were swollen, they were pulsating. His mind was working very hard, avodah sh’bileiv. That’s what tefilah is called, service of the mind. That’s how my rebbehs davened, with their minds.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Rav Miller’s Davening

Rav Avigdor Miller on Choosing the Right Psychologist
Q:
Is modern psychology unacceptable to us now that some of the theories of Freud have been rejected?

A:
And the answer is, I don’t want to be mikapei’ach the parnassa of the frum psychologists. I have no desire to undercut their income. If a frum psychologist will use only good torah common sense, so you pay him for his experience, and for his time and patience. But if any frum psychologist who still clings to the systems of the old timers – and they still do by the way – then you have to know that he is misleading you.

Now, I have to be careful what I say because some good ones are really not following the old psychologists. But in order to collect a good fee they have to talk in the same language. So they say that they’re psychoanalysing you – otherwise you wouldn’t pay him. Just to hear some good advice, you wouldn’t pay money. People pay money for bad advice, you know. As long as it’s big words, people will pay good money for bad advice.

Nobody pays money for good advice though. And therefore, when somebody goes to visit a rebbe who advises him, he doesn’t pay him the fee that the psychologists gets. He doesn’t give his rebbe seventy-five dollars for a half hour.

But you go to somebody, a wretched person, a wicked menuval, and that person gives you wrong advice and he soaks you a big fee that you have to pay. That’s your onesh! That’s your punishment for going to such a person.

So, in general, psychologists must be chosen with the greatest care. They must be recommended by talmidei chachamim. There was a case of a child psychologist recently, and he was discovered to be a child molester. A Jew with a beard and peyos! A child molester on a very big scale! He himself homosexualized many boys who were sent to him. A tragic story. And he had a very good name as a frum Jew and a good influence.

And therefore, the greatest care must be chosen. Do not send your child – and don’t even go yourself – to anybody unless you have complete confidence based on recommendations of talmidei chachomim muvhakim. Just as you wouldn’t buy meat if you’re a frum Jew unless you know it’s under the hashgacha of the management of a real yorei shamayim, this is even more, because food for the neshama is even more important.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Choosing the Right Psychologist

Rav Avigdor Miller on Prosperity in America
Q:
Why did Hashem make United States such a rich country?

A:
Why did Hashem give prosperity to America? Now that’s a question you’ll need Hashem to answer, but I’ll take my little one cent brain and I’ll say a s’vara. I’ll say that it was because America allowed the Am Yisroel to come here and it gave them opportunities to live with full rights. Other countries didn’t do that all the way back; but America, right from the beginning, gave us full rights.

It’s not America’s fault that we misused those rights. It’s not America’s fault that we came and forced our way into gentile communities where we didn’t belong – that’s not the fault of the gentiles. But Hakodosh Boruch Hu gave America a certain reward because of its kindliness to the Am Yisroel.

In addition, America was once a decent country. At first, America was a very moral country. You still see on the coins, “In G-d We Trust.” I don’t know how long it’s going to last. The Supreme Court one of these days will strike it down. Imagine such a thing – a country that writes on its coins, “In G-d We Trust” They deserve a reward just for that! So America at one time deserved all this prosperity. What’s going to happen in the future, I cannot foretell.

Rav Avigdor Miller on Prosperity in America

Rav Avigdor Miller on Are The Gedolim Right About Nixon?

Q:

But isn’t possible that the Gedolimwho are advising us to support Nixon and be loyal to the President and his government are misinformed?

A:

Absolutely it could be possible. But it’s much more probable that others are misinformed, than that the Gedolim are misinformed.

A doctor could also be misinformed. The biggest specialist can make mistakes. And they do. But you’re still not going to just walk up to any boychik who passed through college and medical school – and maybe he failed and he was expelled, and then he finally just barely passed. No, you wouldn’t do that. You’ll try to go to the one who is most proficient in his science because you want the most competent that you can find. And therefore, you have to know that in the science of understanding life, the sages of Torah are the ones most proficient and most competent.

Day
Berachos 19
Vaera – Wednesday

 

the divine name
Shavuos 3:5-6
Berachos 18
Vaera – Tuesday
Berachos 17
Shavuos 3:3-4
Shemos
Vayechi
Vayigash
Berachos 16
Berachos 15
Berachos 14
Berachos 13
Berachos 12
Berachos 11
Berachos 10
Berachos 9
Shabbos speech parshas shemos 5780
Shabbos speech parshas vayechi 5780
Berachos 8
Shabbos speech Parshas Vayigash 5780
Berachos 7
Brochos 16
Brochos 15
Berachos 6
Brochos 14
Berachos 5
Berachos 4
Berachos 3
Berachos 2
Vaera – Sunday
Shemos – Friday
Shemos 5780 – Nesivos Shalom
Shemos – Thursday
Shemos
Brochos daf 13
Shavuos 3:1-2
Brochos daf 12
Shavuos 2:4-5
Shemos – Wednesday
Shavuos 2:2-3
Brochos Daf 11
Shemos – Tuesday
Shavuos 1:7 – 2:1
Brochos Daf 10
Brochos Daf 9
Brochos Daf 8
Brochos Daf 7
Brochos Daf 6
Brochos Daf 5
Brochos Daf 4
Brochos Daf 3B
Brochos Daf 3A
Brochos Daf 2
Shemos – Monday
Vayechi 5780 – Nesivos Shalom
Shavuos 1:5-6
Shemos – Sunday
Vayechi – Friday vort
Vayechi 5780 – chabura
Vayechi
Shavuos 1:3-4
Shavous 1:1-2

 

Brachos Daf ב By R Lesser
Makkos 3:15-16
Makkos 3:13-14

 

Vayigash
Nesivos Shalom Vayigash-5780
Makkos 3:11-12
Makkos 3:9-10
Chanukah
Makkos 3:7-8
Mikeitz
women shiur chanukkah
vayeishev
Mikeitz
Makkos 3:5-6
Makkos 3:3-4
Makkos 3:1-2
Makkos 2:7-8
Makkos 2:5-6

 

Vayishlach
chanukah
Vayeishev
Vayeishev
Vayeishev
Makkos 2:3-4
Makkos 2:1-2
Makkos 1:9-10
Makkos 1:7-8
The jealousy of the brothers
Seeing Red
Makkos 1:5-6
Vayishlach
Vayishlach
Vayishlach
Makkos 1:3-4
women shiur
Vayaitzey
Vayaitzey – Name that Angel
Vayaitzey – Narrative of the First Aliya
Makkos
Sanhedrin 11:4-6
Sanhedrin 11:2-3
Sanhedrin 11:1
Vayeitze
Sanhedrin 10:5-6

 

Sanhedrin 10:3-4

 

Sanhedrin 10:1-2
Sanhedrin 9:4
Sanhedrin 9:5-6
Sanhedrin 9:2-3
Toldos
Niddah daf 37b
Niddah daf 37a
Niddah daf 36b
Niddah daf 36a
Sanhedrin 8:7 – 9:1
Sanhedrin 8:5-6
Nidda daf 35b
Nidda daf 35a
Nidda daf 34b
Nidda daf 34a
Nidda daf 33b
Nidda daf 33a

 

Nidda daf 32b
Nidda daf 32a
Nidda daf 31b
Nidda daf 31a
Niddah daf 30b
Niddah daf 30a
Sanhedrin 8:3-4
Sanhedrin 7:11 – 8:1-2
Sanhedrin 7:7
Sanhedrin 7:8-10

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Parshat Chayei Sarah – 5780 – Yissochor Wartell 

Nothing New Under the Sun 

In this week’s parshah, when Eliezer sees Rivka appear, she appears with a jug on her shoulder, as the Torah writes “המכש לע הדכו …תאצי הקבר הנהו” (“And behold Rivka went out…and a jug was upon her shoulder”). And again, when Eliezer is telling the story to Rivka’s family, he states: “המכש לע הדכו תאצי הקבר הנהו” (“And behold Rivka went out and a jug was upon her shoulder”). Although Eliezer changes numerous parts of what transpired (for various reasons, beyond this scope of this dvar), these words and phrases are identical in both instances. 

Although Rivka was the progenitor or the Jewish People, she gave birth to both Yaakov and Eisav. Many Jewish sources, especially those of a mystical nature, align Eisav and his descendants with the sun, whereas Yaakov and the Jewish People are connected to the moon. It is interesting that the appearance of Rivka actually seems to allude to both of these. She appeared with ‘הדכ’ (kada – her jug), upon ‘המכש’ (shichma – her shoulder). The word המכש (shichma) is numerically equal to 365, the number of ‘solar’ days, or the revolution of the Earth around the sun. The word הדכ (kada) is numerically equal to 29, the approximate number of days in a lunar month. Even more intriguing is the fact that the words preceding “המכש לע הדכו” (v’kada al shichma – and a jug was upon her shoulder), are the words “תאצי הקבר הנהו” (“And behold, Rivka went out). These words are numerically equal to “ חריהו שׁמשה” (The sun and the moon). 

So, one could, in a sense, re-arrange this pasuk to say “הקבר תאצי הנהו” (“And behold, that which came out of Rivka”) – the kada (Yaakov/ the Jewish People) and the shichma (Eisav / Edom). However, why is a solar ‘year’ ascribed to Eisav whereas a lunar ‘month’ is ascribed to Yaakov? One answer could be that Eisav’s descendants, the Western world and much of the world overall, see the world overall as a year as the main entity and the month as more of a practical subdivision. However, the Jewish People go by the particular month and what it contains rather than the function of the (lunar) year. It is Tishrei – time for the high Holidays and Sukkot, it is Nissan -a time for Pesach and rebirth, etc… 

A second reason could be surmised by the root of the words themselves. The word for ‘year’ is shana, which can either mean to repeat/do twice or it can mean to change. What will a new year bring? The same as last year or a change? This concept is definitely relevant to Jews as well, but more often, we are focused upon the chadash (new), the root of the word for month – Chodesh. We always strive for change, to make something new, to grow to create. Kohelet repeatedly writes ein chadash tachat hashemesh – ‘there is nothing new under the sun’, because the chadash is the chodesh, which is under the moon. 

And as long as we remember who we are Jews and to constantly strive to grow and develop, to better ourselves as we live in Hashem’s ways, then we can be the kada (jug) al (on top of) shichma (the shoulder) – we, the Jewish People, who are connected primarily to the moon, can rise above and be al (on top of), those who are only connected to the sun (Eisav), so that we can prosper and succeed until the coming geulah and final clarity and redemption of Moshiach. 

Shabbat Shalom! 

 

Parshat Chayei Sarah – 5780 Rabbi Wartell
losh hora
Love at First Foresight

 

Chayei-Sarah.on Nesios-Sholom
Chayei Sarah
Sanhedrin 7:5-6
Niddah daf 29b
Niddah daf 29a
Niddah daf 28b
Niddah daf 28a
Niddah daf 27b
Niddah daf 27a
Sanhedrin 7:3-4
Lech Lech
The Challenge of Bias
Sanhedrin 6:6 – 7:2

BZR Shmuz – Bracha v’Hashgacha

BZR Shmuz – Bracha v’Hashgacha

BZR Shmooze Refined Speech

BZR Shmooze Refined Speech

BZR Shemos – Geula through tefillah

Shemos – Geula through tefillah

BZR Shelach – Eye of Beholder

Shelach – Eye of Beholder

BZR She’lo Asani Goy

She’lo Asani Goy

BZR Rise to the occasion

Rise to the occasion
rebbes-cigar-Shelach.
Purim – Hug a Jew

BZR Mishpatim – Davening Changes Facts

Mishpatim – Davening Changes Facts.

BZR Live up to high expectations

Live up to high expectations

BZR Kever R’ Tarfon Each minute

Kever R’ Tarfon Each minute

BZR Kabbolas HaTorah – Connection to a Rebbe

Kabbolas-HaTorah-Connection-to-a-Rebbe

BZR Jewish Response to Sandy – Eretz Yisroel

Jewish-Response-to-Sandy-Eretz-Yisroel

BZR How to Prepare For Torah

How to Prepare For Torah
Formula for Fulfillment -RH
Designing effective mitzvos model
Davening – Answered! Post Shavuos
Danger of violent games
Crying – A Jewish trait
Commencement
Bitachon Shemitta
Ben Torah is a mentch

Applyiing for Wealth

Applyiing for Wealth.

Basking in the Radiance of Sinai 5 2 13

Basking in the Radiance of Sinai 5 2 13
Aniticipating Shabbos 11-19

Yehuda MM

Yehuda MM
Aniticipating Shabbos 11-19
Vayera: Change and Continuity
Sanhedrin 6:4-5
Niddah daf 26b
Niddah daf 26a

 

Niddah daf 25b
Niddah daf 25a
helping another yid”
Sanhedrin 6:2-3
Niddah daf 24b
Niddah daf 24a
Niddah daf 23b
Niddah daf 23a
the secret reason why rebbe Moshe leib wasn’t in shul”
To See and Be Seen
vayera
vayera
lech lecha
Sanhedrin 5:5 – 6:1
Sanhedrin 5:3-4
Niddah daf 21b
Niddah daf 21a
Niddah daf 20b
Niddah daf 20a

Tidbits 11.15.2019 Vayeira

Tidbits – Parashas Vayeira
avraham and lot part 2
avraham and lot part 1
What s so funny
Sanhedrin 5:1-2
Sanhedrin 4:4-5
Sanhedrin 4:2-3
Sanhedrin 3:8 – 4:1

Rabbi-Shmuel-Mayefsky-Minhagei-Elul-Parshas-Eikev

Minhagei-Elul-Parshas-Eikev

Rabbi-Shmuel-Mayefsky-Parshas-Vaeschanan

Parshas-Vaeschanan

Rabbi-Shmuel-Mayefsky-Parshas-Vayishlach-5776

Parshas-Vayishlach-5776

5776-Ki-Savo

5776-Ki-Savo
-5777-Lech-Lechah

120408_004

5777-Vayeishev

Rabbi-Shmuel-Myefskey-5777-Haggada-Shel-Pesach.mp3

5777-Haggada-Shel-Pesach
Niddah daf 19b

 

Niddah daf 19a
Niddah daf 18b

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Niddah daf 18a,