Rosh Hashanah 5 – Judgement Day
For a previous post on this parsha, please see:
Rav Avigdor Miller Discusses the Truth behind the Good Stuff of This World in Parshat Netzavim
And the original:
To discuss Rosh Hashanah (which I think I missed doing last year, so I guess this makes up for it), Rav Miller reveals that long-term, even permanent things, can be decided on Rosh Hashanah.
For example, you could be sentenced to live in a neighborhood that will bring down you & your family in religiosity & character.
Or, you could merit to move to a neighborhood full of positive spiritual-growth-inducing influences.
On page 4, Rav Miller takes a closer look at the conversation between Elihu & Iyov (Job), which is pretty interesting.
It also takes us to a form of dream interpretation, in which Rav Miller explains how our dreams reveal something of our essence—something in contrast to our waking behavior that takes us by surprise.
For example, Rav Miller related the time he dreamed of sitting in a dry bathtub full of money—and he enjoyed it.
Yet he criticizes himself for it (page 6):
It was a pleasant dream but in the morning I asked myself, “Why is it that I don’t dream about Hashem?”
A very big kasha! Why don’t I dream about Hashem?!
Maybe that Hashem spoke to me, something else maybe.
It never happened!
Years and years pass by and nothing. I talk about it all the time but I never dreamed about it.
The answer is now I see what a hypocrite I am.
[Ein mar'in lo la'adam eleh mehirhurei libo]—a man is shown in a dream what he really thinks about (Brachos 55b).
It tells you the truth about yourself. You understand that?
A dream sometimes reveals to you important things about yourself.
Religious hypocrites neither think nor speak like this.
But we should follow his example in using a dream for soul-searching & self-improvement.
That's the lesson here for us all.
In a dream, a person can be violent or commit major sins—things he would never do in real life—and that says something about him, says Rav Miller.
But it all depends on context.
Once, I dreamt I was being forced to hurt someone I couldn't recognize. Then I realized it was my own child, and I immediately stopped, hugged him close to me, and burst into tears.
After intense analysis, I realized the dream referred to the chinuch advice I received at that time, which was harmful to my child (not at all the intention of the well-meaning chinuch advisor, but harmful nonetheless).
The dream really helped me.
Anyway, like with all messages from Hashem, these are meant to be loving.
Hashem wants us to live a wonderful life & merit a wonderful eternity.
So He sends us messages about stuff we're stumbling in so we can right ourselves & merit unimaginable goodness.
Even One-Thousandth of a Malach Matters
What are ways to create your din-sweetening malachim?
Rav Miller suggests:
- Holding the door open for your fellow Jew
- Informing your fellow Jew he dropped a dollar
- Not responding to an insult because you remembered Hashem
- Writing a check to a good tzedakah cause (i.e., not an art museum, etc.)
- 5 minutes of Torah learning
- Don't insult people
- Encourage people
- Say excuse me
- Say thank you
- Even if you totally daydreamed your way through Shemoneh Esrei, at least have kavanah on the last words
- Even if you totally daydreamed your way through Birkat Hamazon, at least have kavanah on the last words
- Think about Yetziat Mitzrayim from one traffic light to the next or from one streetlight to the next
Tilt the scales with as many malachim as you can, even via seemingly minor acts of goodness.
A bizarre yet happy chiddush from Shabbat 32a informs us that even one-thousandth of a malach can save you.
Meaning, your good deed was tainted in so many ways, but you have that 1/1000 part speaking up on your behalf.
But that one-thousandth of a malach can be all that's needed to tip you into a sweet new year.
And Heaven hold onto hope for us that maybe this coming year, we'll improve even more.
Rav Miller informs us of this idea to motivate us to do good deeds regardless of how worthless or tainted we think our good deeds are.
The Secret Revelation of Why Hashem Uses Malachim
After all, Hashem is wholly Omnipotent & can do anything & everything.
The answers are on pages 11-12.
Here's part of the answer:
A mitzvah is not like we think, just something that we once did, or thought or said.
No; every mitzvah is an especial kind of creation.
That’s what the Kuzari says.
He says that a mitzvah that is performed is a living entity, an actual creature.
Now the Kuzari you have to know is a Rishon; he doesn’t go into fantasies.
He is practical and his every word is counted and so we have to listen to that — even the smallest mitzvah is a living being that will stand in the Beis Din Shel Maalah and advocate for you.
It doesn’t have to be something with wings — the wings are just a form of vision that is granted to us, so that we should see them and be impressed by them.
A living mitzvah is higher than wings; it’s something of ruchniyus that is of tremendous power — it doesn’t need any wings to propel it.
A top guy in the Israeli mafia got shot in the head & his soul ascended to the Heavenly Court where the prosecuting angel read off his tome of transgressions and each transgression appeared as an ugly frightening monster. The room filled with thousands of them, and they all started screaming at him, "Why did you create me?"
His mitzvot, however (consisting of one page read by his defending angel), created beautiful angels who thanked him sweetly for creating them.
(Then Rebbe Nachman appeared, saved him from the final verdict, and the guy returned to his body & did complete teshuvah.)
Anyway, Rav Miller's point is it's okay to bluff your goodness.
Be nice, even if you secretly know it's not really you.
You're still creating angels—even if it's only 1/1000 of an angel.
Even that tiny sliver of angel matters.
Sometimes, you can simply offer encouragement without any prompting.
Other times, a person confides in you, giving you the opportunity to respond with encouragement.
Yet encouragement is not what many people assume it is today.
Today, people encourage you by saying, "You really need to take so-and-so's chinuch class. It'll help you so much."
Or, "I want to encourage you to attend a 12-Step program."
Or, "You need to get out more."
Or, "Just have emunah!"
Now, sometimes saying the above is the perfect thing to say.
These things aren't black 'n' white.
But real encouragement generally means telling the person something good about how he or she is RIGHT NOW.
Not what you think they need to do to improve their lives or themselves (though there is a time & a place for saying that too), but something good about who they are or what they're doing.
Not a tactful version of "This will help you because you're so flawed in this area" & not "Turn to Hashem or to a therapist because I sure as heck do not want to deal with listening to or empathizing with you."
Again, it's GOOD to turn to Hashem.
But a lot of people use the cheery commands of "Just daven!" "Just have emunah!" "Think good & it will be good!" to get you out of their hair & release them from having to listen or empathize.
Maybe they honestly do not have the time or emotional energy to listen. That's legitimate. Why should they emotionally exhaust themselves with a difficult conversation? It's not fair to do that to them.
But how much are these pious or "go-to-a-class/group/expert" brush-offs coming from apathy?
If you really cannot spare the emotional energy to listen or tell the person good things about him- or herself, then it's encouraging to tell the person you'll daven for them—and MEAN it.
It says something when you're willing to think about someone on your own time.
Ideas for encouragement:
- Tell her she's doing a good job.
- Tell her the good you see in her.
- Offer sincere praise.
- Offer sincere gratitude.
Rav Miller also recommends writing a letter of encouragement—even anonymously.
May Hashem please grant us all a sweet year full of revealed blessing & the light of Mashiach.