Then Rav Miller cites Gemara Pesachim 56a, which mentions a man who went around saying, "I want to live along the coast."
He loved the seashore so much, he dreamed of building a home by the sea when he retired.
When they looked into why he loved the sea so much, they discovered this man descended from Zevulun, which was the sea-faring Tribe. Hashem ingrained within Bnei Zevulun a love for the ocean.
Another man went around saying, "Donu dini – Judge my case."
Whenever there was a disagreement between this man and another, he wasn't interested in arbitration or compromise; he wanted the straight-out verdict: Who's right? Who's wrong? And what must be done now?
He said "Donu dini" so often that they checked into his lineage and discovered what you probably already guessed: "Donu dini" descended from the Tribe of Dan.
Rav Miller explains about the inner make-up of Bnei Dan (pg. 4):
Dan was rigid; he liked to follow the strict line of the law.
There are people like that who are very strict with rules; they don’t like to deviate at all.
Even little children sometimes are born that way; it’s their nature to follow rules. Others, not so - they’re more flexible; they’re not such sticklers for din.
Maybe because it validates the different traits we see and soars over petty differences.
Your family, society, or culture may see your individual personality traits as negative. But maybe your innate traits are perfectly fine (as long as they are being channeled positively).
Maybe you, with your particularly traits, are just as valuable as the people who look down on you.
Maybe Hashem WANTS people exactly like you in the world. (But again, there is still the issue of utilizing these traits for a beneficial purpose.)
For example, if you are more laid-back or compromising, you could see a Danite as uptight or rigid, but really, he is behaving exactly as he is programmed. Hashem WANTS him to be this way; that's his role.
Likewise, a Danite could see a more flexible or accommodating person as weak or compromised or less of a truth-seeker...but really, that person is exactly what Hashem wants him to be.
Devorah HaNeviah, who was a Naftalite, arbitrated disagreements under a palm tree in the area between Tiveria and Beit She'an. She engaged in mediation between struggling parties. That's very different than the "Donu dini" approach of Dan.
Yet both types are obviously highly valued by Hashem.
A Glimpse into What It will be Like When Mashiach First Comes
As we daven in Shemoneh Esrei "Taka b'shofar gadol l'cheruteinu – sound the great shofar for our freedom, our full independence," Rav Miller says there will be some great blast that will proclaim to the nations to liberate Am Yisrael from our subjugation.
We don't know exactly what that will sound like, but we'll all recognize it when it happens:
There’ll be great conferences in countries all over the world and the nations will come together to see what can be done to help facilitate the reestablishment of the Am Yisroel as a nation on its own land.
It’s a warning blast to the nations that the truth of Hashem Elokei Yisroel is on the march forward.
No more palavering about whether we belong here or not.
It will be self-evident that Jewish settlement in Eretz Yisrael absolutely must occur.
Furthermore, Rav Miller notes that entire communities will need to be transplanted within Eretz Yisrael.
And we will need a livelihood for every Jew. (Rav Miller refers to the Rambam, Hilchos Teshuvah 9:2).
We'll need homes built for everyone too.
In a nutshell:
- There will be a great shofar blast that will somehow proclaim the obvious to the entire world.
- The entire world will cooperate in the goal of facilitating the return of the entire Jewish People to Eretz Yisrael.
- Entire communities will need to be transplanted.
- Parnassah will need to be found for every family.
- Homes will need to be built for every family.
Gather Us TOGETHER from the 4 Corners of the Earth
"Kabtzeinu b'yachad – Gather us together..."
We don't just plead to be gathered back to our Land, but we plead that it happen "b'yachad – together."
We are more disparate than ever. In addition to innate Tribal characteristics, just contemplate the difference between an upright Jewish family in Yemen right now and an upright Jewish family in Baltimore.
Maybe they're even both Asherites, but who could be more different?
At this point, you could have more in common with an Ashkenazi Shimonite from your hometown of Los Angeles than you could with your fellow Yissacharite who is a Bucharian from Uzbekistan.
Heck, we even have this today. A Kohen from Brooklyn might feel more comfortable with a Yisrael from Brooklyn than he is with a fellow Kohen from Tunisia.
So it's very important to beg Hashem that this much-anticipated Ingathering occurs with a strong feeling of togetherness.
Rav Miller on page 6:
The Teimanim should be together with the Sefardim.
And the Sefardim with the Ashkenazim, and the Williamsburgers with the Lakewooders.
We want everybody within those communities to get along with each other.
What is the Secret of Our Coming Together?
(Until I read this, I really thought it would happen automatically. Always something new to learn, eh?)
Anyway, this is what Yaakov Avinu was so concerned about as he looked at his very different sons.
So when Yaakov Avinu cried out to Hashem, the brothers answered with Shema Yisrael.
As Rav Miller offers the brothers' solution on page 6:
There’s one Hashem who we’re all serving and that’s going to keep us together despite the differences in our nature.
Whatever differences you see, they are overwhelmed by the yachad, the togetherness that comes from of our serving the One Hashem.
Don't Be a Stranger
We must stop getting distracted by externals.
If a Jew is serving Hashem, you must do everything you can NOT to feel like he or she is a stranger.
Are we really so different from each other?
"No," says Rav Miller. "We're not strangers to anybody if they're loyal Jews."
He offers all sorts of advice for awakening that feeling of identification and unity.
A Jew who serves Hashem connects to Hashem in the same way you do.
You're serving Hashem TOGETHER, whether you feel it or not.
A Jew who serves Hashem is also connecting to our greatest spiritual giants throughout the generations, from Avraham & Sara Imeinu to Moshe Rabbeinu to Eliyahu HaNavi to Ezra HaSofer to the Sages of the Gemara to the Rambam and the Chafetz Chaim and the Baba Sali and, well...EVERYONE.
We're don't serve Hashem on their level, but there is a basic connection that bonds us: They kept Shabbat and we keep Shabbat.
Moshe Rabbeinu and Tzipporah had a kosher kitchen and you have a kosher kitchen.
It's a profound & unique connection worth investing in.
Look at the mezuzot, the tsniyut, the children coming out of Jewish schools, the men coming out of study halls, the women buying kosher food and wheeling baby carriages.
Rav Miller says (page 9) that we should walk through a neighborhood of religious Jews and think:
“I’m walking among my people. It’s my people and I love them. I don’t care what hat he wears or what group he belongs to; it’s all my people! These are the people in this world whom I identify with.”
Like Your Jewish Self by Learning More about Judaism
Rav Miller mentions that at one time, newspapers were a rarity, especially in the small towns.
Stam reading material wasn't so common either, so what did people have to read and talk about?
Rav Miller recalls a family recently arrived from Europe to Williamsburg. They weren't such learned people, but all they spoke about was Parshat Hashavua. Chumash. That's what they read, that's what they knew, so that's what they always spoke about.
Actually, I have a friend whose grandmother was born into a wealthy Chassidic family in Poland in 1898. The father hired a private rebbi to teach his sons and her grandmother sat herself in the corner to listen and she learned too.
(And contrary to all the Jewish-feminist propaganda, no one objected. No one felt scandalized or appalled. It wasn't controversial. In fact, sometimes all her brothers ran out when they could sit no longer and the rebbi simply continued teaching her. A fully educated Jewish girl wasn't common, but it wasn't unheard of either.)
And what reading material could be found in a proper Chassidish home at the turn of the century? Not the deplorable Yiddish novels of that time!
They had seferim on halacha, Chassidus, mussar, mefarshim on Tanach, prayer books, and so on.
So her mind grew accustomed to literature on that level. Holy literature. And it stayed with her for the rest of her life, enabling her to re-build her family after the agony of Auschwitz. She successfully countered the secular influence that tried to infiltrate her American grandchildren and ended up with admirably frum progeny.
Rav Miller recalls the long Torah lectures people used to listen to willingly.
Yes, people used to be very into this.
In the Ben Ish Chai's time, men, women, and children gathered to hear his long drashot.
In Rav Mutzafi's time, entire families (including the women and children) participated in a family reading of 5-10 chapters of Neviim & Ketuvim every Shabbat.
People LIKED it.
When you learn, you can think about how you are learning what Rav Ashi and the Rambam learned.
We're all connected.
Greatness of Soul Supersedes Even the Greatness of Intellect
"We have to be proud of our great grandmothers who had more da’as, more emunah, than many gedolim of today. "
And back when Rav Miller said this, Gedolim like Rav Bentzion Abba Shaul and Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and the Lubavitcher Rebbe were still alive.
Then Rav Miller recalls Josephus's description of the Roman torture of the Jews, and how the Jews refused to renounce their Judaism.
He emphasizes how these martyrs weren't the Gedolim; these were the regular Jewish folks.
"Your Rewards in the Next World Depend on Your Loyalty to Klal Yisroel."
It says: ! כל יִשְׂרָאֵל יֵשׁ לָהֶם חֵלֶק לְעוֹלָם הַבָא
["Kol Yisrael yesh lehem chelek l'Olam Haba – All of Israel has a portion in the World to Come."]
It doesn't say we're going to have individual Olam Habo.
It’s only because of Yisroel.
Hakodosh Boruch Hu is not going to give Olam Habo because of your good deeds – it’s only because you’re a member of Yisroel.
Your rewards in the next world depends on your loyalty to the Klal Yisroel, on how much you identify with Hashem’s people.