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