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