Rav Miller starts off with a detour into descriptions of dying al kiddush Hashem. But the main meat consists of living kiddush Hashem, which is the big challenge of our generation.
Practical Ideas for Fulfilling Kiddush Hashem
Rav Miller lists some ways to fulfill this powerful mitzvah:
- Honoring every person, Jewish or not...even if they don't honor you.
- Honest in your business dealings.
- You refrain from retaliation in response to being put to shame.
- You're pleasant with a pleasant countenance.
- You're polite.
- You agree with people as much as you can (without sacrificing your principles).
- You speak gently to people.
- You try to make people happy (without sacrificing your principles).
- You move from your seat on the bus or bench to accommodate 2 people who clearly wish to sit together.
- When you hold the door open for another, you face them & smile.
- You say thank you when anyone holds the door open for you.
You don't need to be a tzaddik to do these.
Rav Miller states that any ordinary Jew who upholds the above earns special recognition from Above.
“Oh,” says Hashem, “that’s My servant — that’s the man I love.”
The Rambam tells us that: alav hakasuv omer, about this person the possuk says, “Vayomer li, Hashem said to me, “Avdi atah, you are My servant;” it means that’s your form of serving Me — not by how you die but by how you live.
On the bus, in the street, in the store, harei zeh kideish es Hashem — you are bringing glory to My name.
Let's Get Real about Being "Real"
The "be natural" mentality.
Be natural, be yourself, be true to yourself, let it all hang out, feel free, free to be you and me, be real, just bein' honest, and so on.
Needless to say, being true to yourself and being honest and all that can be expressed in a beneficial manner.
But most people do not emulate the above in a way that benefits them or others.
A lot of those liberating mottos lead to self-indulgence and self-centeredness.
And it sure ain't pretty (page 9):
So you can’t say, “I don't care about what people think; I just want to find favor in the eyes of Hashem.”
Hashem says if you don't care about people I don't care about you either.
Kol sheruach habrios nocheh himeno, if people are satisfied with you, ruach haMakom nocheh himeno, then Hashem is satisfied with you (Avos 3:10).
You hear that? A tremendous statement.
Hakodosh Boruch Hu is actually insisting that you have to exert yourself that people should like you — and even though you're not so likeable; Hashem Himself knows you're not likeable but He wants people to like you anyhow.
And so your job is to be a cunning fellow, and not follow your nature.
You have to be artificial all the time. You hear that word? Artificial.
Not to be natural.
Natural means you get down on hands and feet and you'll eat from a plate on the floor — why bother to sit at a table?
And you don't need a spoon. You'll put your face into the plate and you'll lick it up.
Natural means you’ll sit in public and put your fingernail into your ear or your nose and then take it out and inspect the results of your mining expedition.
Some even insist that you accept the real, natural them without them having showered or brushed their teeth.
Probably, we've all noticed that those who pride themselves on "being real" and "natural," those who insist on being themselves (at all costs!) tend to also be very "honest" and open and "real" about their negative thoughts and feelings—no matter how hurt or distressed all their honesty and authenticity make others feel.
Yet in today's world, tact & diplomacy & self-restraint often get you labeled as "repressed" or "fake."
Yes, there are people who pretend to be nice as part of their plot to exploit or abuse others.
But that's not who Rav Miller means.
I also find it enormously helpful that Rav Miller fleshed out why being liked in This World gets you brownie points with Hashem.
After all, don't we know charismatic people who win the popularity contest, but are actually snakes and cause a lot of harm?
Again, that's not really who Rav Miller means and he explains more on page 10, where he starts off by stating the main intent we should have while behaving in such a lovely manner:
A person has to be unnatural if he’s going to succeed at living a kiddush Hashem.
No matter what he’s feeling, he continues to maintain the proprieties, the derech eretz, that cause people to think well of him.
He knows that he’s always on display and that he’s making a show for Hakodosh Boruch Hu.
Earn Millions by Working for Hashem
He starts by earning a few dollars, then builds and saves up over time.
And that's what we can do too.
On pages 11-12, Rav Miller relates a story I never heard before, about the time he spent a month with a new family near the Lithuanian seashore.
On his daily walks, he drummed up plans on how to please them; the idea was part of his personal mussar program.
He concluded the story with:
And it worked – I fooled them.
On pages 10-13, Rav Miller offers lots of advice on different ways to be appealing and make people feel good.
Finally, he concludes with the original message:
We fulfill the above in order to fulfill our mission as Hashem's messengers in the world.
We feel fake, hypocritical, or awkward as we do it because we know we are far from that ideal.
Yet striving to fulfill our role as Hashem's messengers in the world can be exactly what propels as closer to that goal.
Credit for material & quotes goes to Toras Avigdor.