With vivid descriptions and bring-a-smile-to-your-face wit, Rav Miller brings house-appreciation to life: walls, roofs, indoor plumbing...it's all a wonderful gift!
Yet as always, Rav Miller remains balanced even within his gratitude (which is actually also a part of gratitude).
For example, upon caught in falling snow, Rav Miller's walking companion takes a gratitude-attitude toward the snow by declaring "Snow is like ice cream!"
It is. Add sugar and flavoring, and you've got a ready-made sno-cone.
Rav Miller approves of his companion's comment, yet makes the following observation:
“You are correct, that’s a wonderful idea - but ice cream in your ears is not comfortable.”
We appreciate the snow, but we appreciate umbrellas too! So we’ll stand on this side of the wall and we’ll enjoy the rain and snow and cold. Of course, we enjoy it; but we don’t have to dive into it.
But we needn't lie to ourselves and pretend that something uncomfortable is comfortable.
And we can use that honest observation for even more gratitude:
Thank God we have a home to go to where we can enjoy the snow in a protected environment!
Home, Sweet Home!
(He presents the Telzer Rav's exemplary behavior at home as an example.)
And here's some practical advice to meet this lofty goal:
And therefore in a Jewish home it is of utmost importance to live up to the idea that we are bnei melachim [children of kings].
Before every move made in the home, they consult in their minds the model supplied by the awareness of their royalty; what they think royalty would do in such a case.
A man and woman in the home should always be thinking: “What are the royal manners and the aristocratic ideals that should reign in the Jewish home?”
Of course, we are all human beings and we can’t imagine that we will succeed in one fell swoop, but we have to always be aware of the perfection we are striving for.
And it is those homes where this is kept in mind always that will never have to be plagued by the warning and lessons of tzara’as.
Raising Children to Love Judaism
He knows that the internalization of Jewish values doesn't happen in one go.
Chinuch is about a steady drip-drip-drip of Torah hashkafah against our hearts of stone.
Children don't respond as you'd wish.
But the seed of the idea has been planted.
As Rav Miller describes:
Sit down and talk for a couple of minutes about yomtiv [a Jewish holiday]; 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 Miller's dvar Torah gives several examples, but my favorite is adding chocolate to the search for chametz Erev Pesach.
Tefillah: A Woman's True Tafkid
The home should be a place of tefillah and it is the mother who must present herself as the symbol of prayer, the model of tefilah for the Am Yisroel.
Now, she can’t stand and pray long prayers; she’s busy with a lot of things in the house.
But the mother must be a mother of prayer.
Our mothers always prayed a great deal; a Jewish mother should pray even more than a man prays...A Jewish mother in the home should be turning to Hashem all day long.
The old-time Jewish women had a handbook of prayers - prayers for everything, for every kind of eventuality. She would be praying for help in the home, that her supper should come out tasting delicious. Or for a child who is not well and for a child who is not going exactly on the straight path.
Today too, a mother prays constantly that the washing machine shouldn’t break down, that her husband should earn a livelihood, that he should find favor in the eyes of his boss and get a raise.
So besides the fact that immediately, the first thing in the morning when the children wake up, they hear, “Abba is davening in shul; Abba’s learning.”
The children are always asking, “Did Totty come back from shul yet?”
And the mother tells them, “Totty is in shul talking to Hashem; he’ll be home soon.”
That’s how the Jewish home starts out every day, but besides for that, the mother spends the rest of the day absorbed in speaking to Hashem about everything.
In the olden days the Jewish mother actually was a symbol of prayer even more than the husband; it’s something that’s forgotten today but that is one of the greatest achievements in a Jewish home.
A Jewish mother should always be praying and the children who grow up with that know that their house is a home where Hashem resides.
The aristocratic Jewish home actually became a Beis Hamikdash.
What is the Worst Thing a Parent or Spouse Can Do?
Complaining is one of the forms of breaking down a home.
Even if there is no quarrel between husband and wife and even if the children are behaving and are loyal, if there is a complaining person in the house – if the mother or father complain frequently – then the morale in the house is broken.
You cannot have a successful home, even a non-Jewish home, if there is complaining.
The parents seem to get along just fine.
Yet one boy goes without his kippah & smokes pot while his sister smokes cigarettes and wears jeans downtown at night.
Everyone was mystified that this couple has 2 children acting out in this manner.
Yet quite by accident, I overheard their father kvetching in such a pathetic whiny way to his wife. His wife tried to respond with pleasant grace, but he insisted on whining and then she just fixed her face into a smile without responding further, except for a pleasant repetition of: "Hmm. Well, I don't know. Mm. I don't know."
I was shocked because what was the father complaining about? An acquaintance had given him a big compliment, a big thank-you and verbal gesture of appreciation and honor. And the father was dissecting it for negativity. "What did he mean by that? But what did he say it like THAT? I mean, was he thinking this-or-this? What was it? But what did he mean exactly? I don't get it."
In addition to verbally pummeling his wife in this manner (she couldn't reassure him enough and the husband irrationally refused to accept her logical and true interpretation of the complimentary words), it's intolerable to live with a person who cannot deal with even the most positive behavior without shredding it apart for negativity.
Such people can suck out any vitality or meaning to life.
Success Needs Planning
But to be a success, needs planning.
And don’t think it’s not going to repay you.
The happiness, the satisfaction of a successful day in the house is a reward without end.
It’s a reward in this world and it’s a reward forever and ever in Olam Haba.