He mentions gratitude for making it through another year (however old you are).
And he mentions things like being able to sleep in a bed. Because, after all: "You didn't sleep on the railroad tracks."
Some people have serious problems and/or chronic problems.
For some people, going to the restroom or digesting food is an issue.
Look at how many people have bad knees or a bad back—or worse.
And in a hundred years, says Rav Miller, where will we be?
Our neshama always exists.
But our body won't.
And that right there is some serious food for thought.
Yes, Hashem loves everybody.
Every single person—regardless of race, religion, disability, or anything else—received a unique human soul and Hashem's Divine Image imprinted upon him or her.
That in itself is amazing & precious.
But Am Yisrael chose Hashem & Hashem chose Am Yisrael, so Am Yisrael receives even more specialized attention.
As Rav Miller explains on page 10:
If you’re loyal to His Torah then Hakodosh Boruch Hu says to you, “All of space is Mine, all the billions of star worlds belong to Me, but it’s you that I’m thinking about.”
It means the men and women and boys and girls of the Jewish Nation – each one of them is more important than the entire creation.
Hakodosh Boruch Hu loves Chaim and Dovid and Berel and Yerucham and Elazar.
He’s thinking only about Yenta and Chana and Pelta and Chava!
So Mr. Greenberg – Hashem loves you more than He loves all of space.
Mr. Katz, Mr. Rubin, Mr. Friedman, Mr. Shama and everybody else, you’re all that Hashem is interested in.
“Each one of you,” Hashem says, “is to Me a beloved child!”
And so our individual behavior isn't just about us; it affects so many others & so much more too.
How to Start Loving Your Fellow Jew
We need each other for the Next World too.
Yes, our merits decide a lot of our Olam Haba.
But we need our group merits too.
(After all, we Jews are like one person.)
This means we need to remain connected to each other.
We should definitely live together (and not seek out the alluring non-Jewish or non-religious areas).
But we also need to connect mentally too.
Here is a prime way to start (pages 12-13):
So here's what I heard from a gadol b’Yisroel many, many years ago.
Choose one person, he said. Don't tell him about it but you should begin to love him from a distance. Look at his face – “Ah, I love that frum Jewish face.”
You don't have to say anything to him. You don't have to become a friend of his.
You don’t even have to associate with him. Just practice loving him.
Men should practice on men and women should practice on women.
Love one woman. Don't tell her about it. Don't call her up and speak to her.
Just love her.
Little by little your heart becomes full of love to one Jew.
And it’s contagious – after a while it will spread to others too.
You'll find that you’ll be able to expand it to include other people too.
Once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to spread the love.
It’s something you can practice all the time in the street, even with strangers.
“He’s ours! I don’t care what kind of yarmulke he wears, he’s still my brother. And even though he follows a different Rebbe, or a different set of political objectives, nevertheless, I’m going to begin loving him right now.”
Hashem generally gives a parent at least one child to whom the parent finds it difficult to relate.
When the child develops enough to reveal his personality, a parent may realize, "Oh. I can't stand people like this." Or, "Oh gosh, this type always intimates me so much." Or, "Oh no! She reminds me of the sister who always shred my nerves!"
Then the parent went to work on learning how to like this personality.
And you know what?
They all discovered that once they started liking that child's personality, they also started liking all those people with the same personality whom they disliked before.
I even got to liking a child's personality so much, I sometimes even actively seek out that personality type to befriend.
I almost cannot understand why the personality type bothered me so much before. It is such a wonderful personality!
Because of another child, I'm less intimidated by people with his personality because I now see them from the inside, with more fondness & understanding (and humor).
The child who shared a personality similar to a relative I suffered from was easier to deal with because it wasn't the personality so much as the level of emotional health. That relative is the "jerk" version of this personality. My son with that personality is really wonderful.
But either way, this really works.
Your heart is a muscle that can be & should be worked.
Exercise your heart!
Cultivate the contagion of love.
Bind Yourself with Blessings to Fellow Jews
From page 13 until the end, Rav Miller offers all sorts of compelling examples of how to love others, what to love about them, and how to bless them.
Ever practical, Rav Miller says on page 16:
Now you can't do it all the time, but once in a while, once a day from now until Rosh Hashana make it your business to spend about two minutes saying these words.
Practice it every day from now until Rosh Hashana.
That’s your homework.
And not merely in general. Mention names. Specify.
Furthermore, when you bless & love a particularly great person—a spiritually great person—you show Hashem that you're bound up with that person, that you are connected to that person.
And thus that person's merits benefit you too.
And this is a straight-forward yet tremendous project we can do for Elul.