"...tachat asher lo avadta et Hashem Elokecha b'simcha uvtuv levav merov kol — And all this will befall you because you did not serve Hashem your G-d, with joy and with a merry heart, from an abundance of everything” (Devarim 28:47)
Such horrific things can happen...simply from not serving Hashem with joy?
To avoid these horrific consequences, we need to serve Hashem:
- b'simcha - with joy
- b'tuv levav - with a merry heart
- merov kol - from an abundance of everything; i.e. when life is going well
What are Your Lungs REALLY For?
For example, we think our lungs are for breathing?
They're for us to remember Hashem.
Yet how easy is it for us to go through entire days, weeks, months, or even years -- and not think of how grateful we should be for lungs?
I remember the horror I felt as a child when I first heard about those stricken with polio who ended up on an iron lung for the rest of their lives.
THANK YOU FOR MY LUNGS, HASHEM!!!
The Awesome Power of a Good Mood
Whether you're a pedestrian or a driver, if you find yourself at a red light, you can just start saying, "Thank You, Hashem, for my eyes. Thank You, Hashem, for my children. Thank You, Hashem, for my life" — until the light turns green and you continue on your way.
Doing these silent or murmured thank-yous can actually chirk you up into a good mood.
Rav Miller claims (pg. 5):
When Hakodosh Boruch Hu sees that, He says, “I don’t have to send this man any reminders about Me because he’s accomplishing everything on his own. He remembers Me. When things are going well – when his stomach is working so efficiently that he doesn’t even know he has a stomach, and when his brain is functioning so perfectly that others would forget they have a brain – he remembers Me and thanks Me."
Where Does Our Key Avodah Lie?
Even worse, some people credit themselves with their success, crowning themselves in place of Hashem, chas v'shalom.
That's one of the reasons you'll hear people say that wealth can be a bigger nisayon than poverty.
We take the cozy central heating or the comfy sofa for granted.
When I first got married, I craved a sofa. Or even just a big cushiony chair, like a recliner. Especially for nursing a baby or reading a book, I really yearned for comfortable seating, and not need to decide between a hard plastic chair or the bed.
Baruch Hashem, after 2 years, we were able to get a sofa. And I was so happy! But you know how it is. As time goes by, you get used to the sofa and forget to appreciate it as much as you did at the beginning.
That's normal, but it's not correct. And that's where our key avodah lies.
How to Make a Helpful Disaster List
There are predestined challenges derived from past-life patterns and also specific tikkunim for your individual soul.
But if we could just eliminate all the bitter incidents that occur solely from lack of gratitude or acknowledgement of Hashem, then life would be a lot better.
On pages 6-12, Rav Miller offers wittily-described examples of how not to sleepwalk through life, of how to respond to good mazal, how to utilize this within marriage, and how to view unfortunate people (like the handicapped and the homeless).
And while we've all heard of gratitude lists, how many of us have heard of making a disaster list?
Rav Miller recommends you make a list of 50 ailments you DON'T suffer from.
On page 13, you can see Rav Miller's own hand-written list.
Then you go down the list and say, "Baruch Hashem, I don't have that. And Baruch Hashem, I don't have that."
And so on.
When you pass by a pharmacy or a doctor's office, you can look at the sign or the labels and think to yourself, "Baruch Hashem, I don't need that medicine or this doctor! Yishtabach Shemo."
The Correct Way to View the Trials of Others
In the non-Torah world, the suffering of others is used to push Hashem away and to justify atheism.
In that world, people look at amputees and homeless and say, "What a cruel world! Where is God?" And they spiral down from there.
But the Torah attitude is one of emuna — so it's totally different.
Of course we don't rejoice in the suffering of others. We should pray for them and assist them however we can!
But we should also utilize this to come closer to Hashem.
We don't want suffering for ourselves and we don't want it for others (with a few exceptions, of course ;-).
And this is the way to sweeten things and prevent a lot of suffering.
Rav Miller puts it together like this (pg. 14):
We shouldn’t use other people’s troubles as an alibi in order to say we cannot have simcha. We won’t use our sympathy for them as an excuse to not thank Hashem.
Of course, we sympathize with those who are suffering; do whatever you can to help them. Be mispallel for them – certainly we have to do that.
But you should make use of them too, and say, “Boruch Hashem that you saved me from this. You saved me from this illness and that illness.”
We should certainly sympathize with others, but we must be busy thanking Hakodosh Boruch Hu that it did not happen to us.
The #1 Thing You Need to Do to Prepare for Rosh Hashanah
There are so many people who can’t come here tonight — so many bedridden people; there are big institutions crowded with invalids. Mental institutions too!
If you’re sane enough to come here by yourself — you’re more than sane if you come here — you’re an exception.
One out of ten people in the United States have been in an institution!
And if you haven’t — or at least you’re not there now — so you have to take that as a reminder; get busy and say like Dovid Hamelech said.
He said, “What can I do?” Dovid was worried about it; he said, "[Mah ashiv laHashem kol tagmulohi alei] — What can I pay back for all the good that he bestowed on me?"
And then there's this (pg. 18):
Now rabosai, don’t imagine that I’m tying you down to a life of obligations; I’m tying you to a life of happiness!
Because as a result of thinking like this you’re going to live lives of simcha — you can’t help it!
You’ll rejoice in life itself – being alive is fun!
And these things you have to know are a chiyuv gamur!
More than anything else you have to do before Rosh Hashana, the chiyuv of gratitude to Hashem is paramount.
The Chovos Halevavos says that. The avodah of hoda’ah, of gratitude to Hashem, that’s the real avodas Hashem.