As Rav Miller himself acknowledges, those of us living in pseudo-egalitarian democracies struggle to feel comfortable with hierarchies — even holy ones.
But the truth is, different levels of importance exist.
Of course, Hashem deeply involves Himself with every human being & every aspect of Creation (page 7):
Of course, Hakodosh Boruch Hu is looking at every Jew.
Not only every Jew; Hakodosh Boruch Hu is looking at every squirrel.
He knows what every single rat, every mouse, every bacterium, is doing.
Nobody, nothing at all, is not seen by Him and nothing is overlooked.
It’s a great Torah principle that...Hakodosh Boruch Hu does not deprive anyone of his due reward (Bava Kamma 38b).
Everyone is going to get the reward he deserves, absolutely.
Even the absolute worst people in the world who can hardly be called human.
Some people love hearing that; others detest hearing that.
But it is 100% true & an integral belief within authentic Torah Judaism.
It always provides a major explanation why good things happen to really awful people.
As Rav Miller continues on page 7:
Even a rasha, a gangster, who kills ten people a day, won’t lose out on the reward he deserves.
Let’s say that his business; he gets a paycheck for each body that he delivers – ten people a day.
But it’s against his principle to kill eleven!
Even if he’s offered a big bonus, for an eleventh victim, he won’t do it.
He has principles after all; he’s not stam a murderer.
Hakodosh Boruch Hu will not deprive him of his reward for that self control.
It also shows us how much Hashem focuses on anything good we do, even the tiniest good.
Hashem prizes the positive. He orients himself on the positive.
So we should do — both regarding ourselves & others.
Many times, truly great people seem strange to those less great than them.
Truly great people can seem odd, eccentric, naïve, sweetly childlike, and so on.
In fact, if a regular person does something only a couple of levels higher than average, others consider him nuts.
Rav Miller recalled the 1940s, when any many with a beard seemed like a weirdo.
Rav Miller went with a beard and people thought he was loony. Literally, some people told him to his face that he was crazy.
This is huge chizuk for us because many of us found ourselves being discounted or disparaged simply for adding even one frum act to our behavior that was beyond the norm of whatever society we lived (whether frum or not or both).
Remember what Rav Miller says on page 9 (the original idea is from Hoshea 9:7, as explained a few paragraphs above this one):
Now, I’m not saying that you have to wear a beard in order to be a tzadik – today even genuine meshuganehs wear beards – but I’m just giving you an example.
Anybody who demonstrates some idealism is considered a lunatic by people who lack that attitude.
Very often people can’t appreciate those who are better than them.
I say “very often” – it’s always the case!
And that's the people who look soooooo frum & act sooooo frum (or maybe we, in our naivete, consider someone oh-so frum when they're obviously not) — but are not so great.
Malachi 18 tells us that when Judgement Day comes, we'll see who is really a tzaddik & who is really a rasha.
We'll see who served Hashem & who did not serve Hashem.
A lot of people get disillusioned from illusions of frumkeit & piety. But we should train ourselves to focus on the people who are REALLY TRYING — including focusing on the people who actually succeed in being genuinely good & truly serving Hashem.
Hashem knows the truth.
And one day, we will too.
Strive for Your Unique God-Given Personal Best
We're all bursting with potential.
That's said so often by the New Yuck Times bestsellers list of self-help gurus, many of us no longer take that idea seriously.
It sounds like something said just to chirk us up.
But it's a fundamental Torah idea.
Here's what Rav Miller says we should say to ourselves (page 17):
“I cannot be like the people around me who are stagnant. I cannot lose my life in this crowd. I don’t want to merely go along with the yoke of habit on my shoulders and be satisfied with the life of a decent personality, of a loyal Jew.“
Even one tiny bit more catapults you to unperceivable heights.
That's why the astoundingly great Malkitzedek remains in the wings of Parsha Vayera while Avraham Avinu takes center stage.
Malkitzedek was one of the greatest people in his generation. His real name was Shem — yes, Shem the son of Noach.
But as great as Malkitzedek/Shem was (and he really was!), Avraham Avinu the son of the prime idol-maker of the world at that time, pushed himself even more...even if it made him look crazy in the eyes of ancient Mesopotamia.
And that made all the difference.
Don't forget to check out the Practical Tip on page 21, plus advice for dealing with a father-in-law on the last page.