Doing so is good for us; for the tzaddik who is a truly humble person, being praised doesn't matter.
WE benefit from searching out & praising our tzaddikim.
This directive is from Devarim 25:1:
"And they should justify the tzaddik and condemn the wicked."
Then Rav Miller explains how figuring out who is a tzaddik is as difficult now as it was in the generation of Hillel and Shmuel Hakatan.
"Many times there are great tzadikim who are unknown."
Once Again, We See that Real Greatness is Found in the Seemingly Small Things by Seemingly Regular People
Who is a tzaddik in HASHEM'S Eyes?
Rav Miller emphasizes it's not necessarily who we think.
Here it is in a nutshell:
“ 'The true chassidus that is desired by Hakodosh Boruch Hu is far from any picture we have in our mind.' [Mesillat Yesharim] You hear that? A real chossid, a man whose piety and devotion is desired by Hashem, is something that is far from what we imagine. It might be somebody that it’ll give us a big surprise to discover that he is the one."
For example, the Gemara mentions a man who used to remove stones from the street to make traveling easier for pedestrians & riders. The Gemara calls such a man chassid — pious.
He looks like he's doing menial busy-work, but in Shamayim, such dedication to making life easier for others is actual a great act of chassidut, of piety.
Especially before there were smoothly paved roads, rocks tripped pedestrians and stubbed their toes. Stones made walking painful & injurious to those with less-than-excellent footwear. Horseshoes & wagon axles could be damaged by stones. Stones jarred the wagon in a way that wearied the riders.
So removing the stones was a very big chessed.
Thus, Rav Miller mentions that maybe a guy who kicks into the gutter every banana peel he sees (so that others don't slip on the peels) is a tzaddik.
He recalls a frum man he knew who, in snowy weather, filled a bag with sawdust or ashes, then as he went down the street, he scattered the contents around so that people wouldn't slip on the ice.
Sometimes, a slip on the ice leads to hospitalization, and this man was doing what he could to prevent that.
Maybe THIS man is a tzaddik, says Rav Miller.
Housewives, Booksellers, Halachah Experts, Teachers, and Refrainers from Lashon Hara: Singing the Praises of Our Unsung Heroes
In his merit, there were Jewish boys learning Torah when they otherwise wouldn't be.
And he did such things all the time.
Rav Miller declares him "a tzaddik!" But acknowledges that people didn't appreciate the man's level of tzidkut.
Another man named Rav Asher Zimmerman never spoke even a smidgen of lashon hara — no matter what. And he was an expert in all practical halacha. In fact, people called him to ask about the practical halachot of issues, and he was always willing to respond to them.
Rav Miller also declares him a tzaddik, and yet:
"He didn’t look like a tzadik; he looked like a plain man. But I knew him personally — I knew him for at least fifty years...There’s no question that he wasn’t appreciated enough..."
"Now, while we’re on the subject of tzadikim you must know that it’s not only men — it may be a chiddush to you but there are many women tzadikim too."
In her merit, thousand of Jewish girls were taught to build idealistic Torah homes and raise large families. From her merit & dedication flowed generations of female teachers and homemakers.
Then Rav Miller emphasizes the greatness of Rebbetzin Kaplan in her home, that she was a tzaddekes at home too, and raised 14 children.
Praising our unsung heroes (who could also be us), Rav Miller states:
"There are thousands of frum mothers and fathers who are sacrificing to raise large families...They’re being moser nefesh to build Torah families, they're raising tzadikim and tzidkoniyos in their homes. And our very important function is to always be singing their praises; it’s the principle in our parsha of [v'hitzdiku et hatzaddik]. We have to raise up the banner of the tzadikim as much as we can."
Hashem's Special Agents of Truth
Relentless propagandists of the dark side — can't we do the same for God's Side?
Instead of being agents of disinformation, says Rav Miller, we should be agents of HaKadosh Baruch, agents of Truth.
- Look for good things to say about every shul you enter, every school you see, every yeshivah and whenever you're in a group of Jews.
Rav Miller nearly got swept up in the Shoah. He saw the Jews in Europe before the Shoah. The murdered korbonot are not just numbers to him. He knew them.
So despite the crowding that can occur when among a large group, Rav Miller instead rejoices in the crowding and the long lines at kosher stores Erev Shabbat.
"Look at all these Jews!" is his constant refrain. "Ken yirbu! — May they only increase!"
He recommends finding something to praise in every shul:
- This congregation gives so much tzedakah.
- That congregation davens with so much fervor.
- This congregation contains such friendly people.
- That congregation displays such refined behavior.
And then you go talk about it.
When you sit down to eat with your family, have something wonderful to say about your fellow Jews — and mean it sincerely.
Spread Hashem's Propaganda Near & Far — and Don't be Afraid to be Superficial about It
According to Rav Miller:
"You have to be a salesman to sell the Torah ideals to the world. Always say a good word about the Torah, about tzadikim, about the frum families. I’m not talking now about speaking to irreligious Jews — the frum Jews have to hear it; they’re the ones who have to hear these words. And what about yourself? You have to hear it too! After all, it’s yourself who’s most important. And when you speak up, you’re talking to yourself."
He says that if you, say, go to Eretz Yisrael to see a tzaddik, then you should talk about ALL the good things about him — even the superficial things.
Yes, you can and should mention how careful he is in mitzvot. But you should also describe his beautiful eyes and beard, and how lovely his bekitche was.
It's okay to be superficial when praising the good, says Rav Miller.
Yes, enthuse about the atmosphere of learning in a yeshivah.
But also talk about the organization of the books or the freshly painted walls. (if there were these things). Talk about the wonderfulness of the staff.
If there is ANYTHING good to say, no matter how superficial, then speak up!
Our job is to fight darkness with...LIGHT.
"Aren’t the wicked doing just the opposite? The wicked are giving every desirable adjective to every wicked thing and making it beloved by the multitude — and the whole world is being being misled. The most ugly things are described today in the most glowing terms.
"So why don’t we fight back and describe the beautiful things, the holy things, in most glowing terms. We have to be propagandists for everything good in this world."
What is Wickedness? Who is Wicked? What is Compassionate Condemnation?
"...v'hirshi'u et ha rasha — and they should condemn the wicked."
Am Yisrael must be speak up, point a finger, and say, "This is wicked!"
But WHAT is wicked exactly?
It may not be what we think.
Rav Miller clarifies:
"Now, before we continue, I need to stress something so that we shouldn’t make any error.
"It’s of the utmost importance to understand that when we speak now about making judgments and condemning the wicked, it means those who have forsaken the derech haTorah.
"A frum Jew is not a rasha!
"And even though he happens to be your competitor in business or he follows another rebbe who may be in competition with yours, or maybe he even wronged you in some way, that means nothing. If there’s a dispute between you and him, that’s for beis din to decide; but he’s not a rasha."
We also FEEL compassion toward a rasha (maybe).
Because if that person had a better upbringing or a better family or a better neighborhood, then maybe that rasha could've been a decent person. Maybe that rasha could've been better than any of us.
But he's not.
So we feel compassion, but we also act according to Truth.
"...any weakness in our attitude towards wickedness, is a weakness in our attitude towards Hakodosh Boruch Hu."
But he notes that the liberals, despite their self-promotion, aren't actually kind. They spew hatred and venom at anyone who disagrees with them.
"And what that means is that they function in direct contradistinction to our possuk — they spend their lives condemning the good ones and justifying the wicked."
"And even if we would write letters to the New York Times, they won’t print them — this I know from experience — but at least among ourselves we shouldn’t give any credit to the evolutionists or the liberals for having good intentions. They are resha’im gemurim and open liars — they are enemies of the truth."
Even Yeshayahu Hanavi did it.
It can save one's soul.
And yes, Rav Miller cautioned against hurting the feelings of non-Jews and emphasized the importance of darkei shalom — ways of peace, but for ourselves to know that any anti-Torah idea "is altogether kulo sheker from beginning to end."
Rav Miller makes the astute insight that any truth used by those in the wrong is only to give credence to their lies.
This is a brilliant insight.
Many people get confused by the dusting of truth sprinkled over all the mammoth lies.
But now we know what's going on with that and don't need to get confused anymore.
And on page 14, Rav Miller says a bunch of very sharp things that are better to read in the original, and he makes another astute insight about people we are no longer allowed to condemn, despite their actions being wholly condemned unequivocally by the Torah, and also that this behavior has led to an increase in violence, drugs, and an incurable 100% fatal disease.
And they're targeting children.
How did he know that back then living ensconced in a Torah community?
I don't know.
But he says:
"And that’s they’re doing today — don’t think otherwise — they’re headed for your children. And you want to love them?! You want to love a snake?"
What is the Most Open Mind You Could Have?
"And don’t think that we’re being selfish or we’re being limited in our outlook.
"We have to know we are the ones who are broadminded.
"We are broadminded enough not to be influenced by the fads of the day. We’re proud to be close-minded!
"You know, if your mind is closed, and it’s open only to the subject of Hashem, that’s the most open mind you could have.
"But if your mind is open to anything at all, if it lets everything in, then it’s the most closed mind there is because everything settles in your thoughts. And what is the result? All kinds of sewage collect in your head, and your mind becomes just a garbage disposal, that’s all.
"An open mind is a mind of sewage."
Let's take out the key point and put it in a special snippet:
"...if your mind is closed, and it’s open only to the subject of Hashem, that’s the most open mind you could have."
"I'm an Apikoris When It Comes to Art!"
It's not that you can't ever play ball, paint, or whistle.
It's the whole culture & worship of it.
What's it being used for?
That's the problem.
"The world stands on the righteousness of the Jewish people; that’s a fundamental truth that is constantly reiterated in the Tanach."
And notice our good. Talk about our good.
- Praise tzaddikim — ALL tzaddikim, not just your favorite tzaddik.
- Praise frum Jews — ALL frum Jews, not just the group you identify with the most.
- Downplay the outside world.
- Talk about how wicked & ridiculous it is.
"...without Torah ideals, there can’t be true good."
Then he quotes Rabbeinu Yonah:
"...by doing this, by merely preparing your thoughts and using your words for the cause of praising the true good in this word, then without any effort and work of your hand, you will acquire merits without end, because this is one of the most important purposes of the creation of man.”