The Rise & Fall of Vanity
For example, Biblical Egypt rose to such heights of power, technology, science, and occult...yet where is it now?
Greek Egypt also showed great accomplishment & promise...yet where is it now?
Original Egyptians no longer exist as identifiable members of that nation.
Today, the very name "Egypt" no longer connotates the pinnacle of human accomplishment or a world power, but a dreary dysfunctional Third World country that occasionally lashes out like a dying, wounded sphinx.
Once again, history shows that the best plan is to disengage from the temporal (regardless of how compelling & impressive) and associate with the Eternal: Hashem.
Harnessing Those Horses
Yosef Hatzaddik rushed to the stables to harness his horses himself, even though the servants stood by, trained & ready to do it for him—yet he did so all for the sake of honoring his father.
In contrast, Paroh (Pharoah) also rushed to the stables to harness his horses himself—but to pursue Am Yisrael to death & re-enslavement.
Rav Miller notes that when such similar statements occur, Hashem means to draw our attention to it.
Millennia of Torah scholars scrutinize every word of Torah. And they note the connection.
What is it?
The Secret to Fighting the Most Powerful Enemy
With the same act, Yosef Hatzaddik sought to serve Hashem with single-minded focus while Paroh sought to rebel against Hashem with single-minded focus.
But because Yosef Hatzaddik behaved this way first, he received the power & the credit for the act.
On pages 10-13, Rav Miller explains in compelling detail the Kuzari's description of how creating a mitzvah is like creating a child.
As we learn from a verse in an earlier about Noach's descendants: A person's true offspring are his mitzvot.
As Rav Miller notes (page 14):
And so when we were standing at the Red Sea, by all accounts we should have been finished off.
We were a weak people, without weapons and not schooled in the ways of war.
And here is the most powerful army in the world hurtling towards us, at full speed.
The Egyptians were wild with enthusiasm.
Pharaoh was so drunk with bloodlust that he had harnessed his chariot himself!
At this point an angel spoke up: Wasn’t Yosef also a leader of Egypt? Didn’t he also get so enthusiastic about Your will Hashem, that he did the same thing and harnessed his own chariot?
“Oh,” Hashem said, “Yes, yes; now is the time to strike down the actions of Pharaoh. His efforts to destroy My people will have no effect, because Yosef’s act outweighs all of that military might.”
Applying the Lesson of Yosef HaTzaddik to Ourselves
On pages 16-21, Rav Miller goes through different mitzvot & explains in witty detail how to accomplish them with increased enthusiasm.
For example (page 18):
So here's a lady...And now she’s lighting the candles.
She’s lighting anyhow so just before she lights the candles she remembers she once heard this idea so she stops for a few seconds and tries to create a simcha shel mitzvah, that she should be happy, excited about the mitzvah of bringing in the Shabbos.
It’s a wonderful idea. You should try it.