He explains how to be truly happy in This World, despite enormous suffering.
(I’m embarrassed to tell you how much I need to hear this message. Again. And again. And Hashem in His Great Compassion and Kindness sends me this message through a mouthpiece as geshmak as Rav Miller. Yishtabach Shemo.)
Anyway, the main key is to detach from the material world as much as possible.
Now, this is a process.
And it doesn’t mean to lower your material standards to such a primitive level that you freeze or barely eat (unless you are genuinely content in that state—and some tzaddikim have been).
How to Detach from the Material?
Yes, some material things are necessities. Some are significant & urgent.
But many aren’t.
And a great way to detach is to imagine the great pleasure of the Next World, which Rav Miller has discussed that in many shiurim (including this dvar Torah, which is why you should read the original because this post leaves out TONS of very important stuff).
Contemplate Old Age
People who get to the end of their lives without good deeds and mitzvot, without Torah and tefillah, find themselves in particularly miserable circumstances because they suffer mental, emotional, and spiritual misery in addition to difficult or demeaning physical circumstances.
The Benefit of Heavenly Hellfire
Frankly, there are sins I avoided ONLY because I understood that Hashem sees everything and knows my real motivation—and would whack me at some point, whether in This World or The Next.
So I refrained.
Fear of God works.
If it’s unhealthy, then it’s not real fear of God, but your own misguided imagination at work.
But real fear of God is a happy thing.
(For more on this topic, please see Why Fear of God is Still Important & Beneficial in Our Generation.)
A real idea of Gehinnom is a healthy part of robust ruchniut.
As Rav Miller explains:
The truth is that even in the shuls there’s nobody talking about it!
How long will we have to sit in the shul and listen to the rabbi’s speeches before we hear a dissertation on the great subject of Olam Haba?
I remember when the Slobodka Rosh Yeshiva once came to America and they invited him to a Young Israel convention – it used to be held here in a hotel in New York City.
He didn’t know what Young Israel means; he didn’t know, otherwise he would have surely not gone. So he went and they asked him to speak.
Speak?! What is the Slabodka Rosh Yeshiva going to say to them already? Which subject should he speak about?
He thought, “I should speak about what the Jews of America need to hear most.”
And so he spoke on the subject of Gehennim.
But you won’t always have the Slobodka Rosh Yeshiva to tell you those things. And there aren’t too many rabbis who are willing to tell you the truth.
First of all, many of them are themselves weak in the emunah of Olam Habah. And even if not, he can’t tell you the truth. You’ll run to the other shul down the block, and your rabbi will lose all of his congregants.
I told you once that in my shul we make a “membership drive” once in a while. I tell the shul members the truth, and I drive them out to all the other shuls in the neighborhood. That’s why the other rabbonim in my neighborhood love me.
The Root of Our Resistence
Sure, we hear all the time about the weakness of our generation.
But WHY not? What’s the real reason behind our resistance?
Rav Miller shines a light on the root of the issue (emphasis mine):
And that’s why the Chovos Halevavos [Duties of the Heart] tells us that of all the principles the yetzer hara tries to weaken in a man, it is this one, the belief in the Next World, that he attacks first and foremost.
Because he knows that Olam Haba is the yesod of our lives.
It’s our purpose here.
So all the other things the yetzer hara can ignore – believe in Hashem, good; believe in Mattan Torah, good; believe in Yetzias Mitzrayim, good; believe in Torah she’bal peh, good; believe in the whole Gemara, believe in everything!
You can even believe in a Rebbeh, a tzadik!
But be weak in just one thing; just be weak when it comes to Olam Haba.
“Be weak in that,” says the yetzer hara. “Don’t talk about it; soft-peddle it. Be embarrassed to mention it.”
Because Olam Haba is everything! If the yetzer hara can weaken your awareness of Olam Haba then everything else falls away. If your Olam Haba is weak, then your Torah is weak, your mitzvos are weak.
Everything else is weakened if Olam Haba is not constantly at the forefront of your thoughts.
The 30-Seconds-a-Day Solution
Whether you’re hanging on a strap on the subway, or driving to work; maybe you’re waiting to see the doctor, or even if you’re standing on the corner waiting for the light to change – whatever it is – look at your watch and let it tick off thirty seconds while you are now in the World to Come, thinking about the purpose of life.
Rav Miller explains:
And then, when we come into the Next World so they’ll ask you, “What do you want here?”
And you’ll say, “I prepared; I thought about Olam Habah in the world where I’m coming from. I worked on it!”
“Oh!” they’ll say, “Shalom Aleichem! Welcome!”
Because you’re superior to everybody else.
You’re a dagul mei’rivavah, you’re one in ten thousand. You’re a head taller than everybody else because you understood the lessons of what happened on Yom Hashmini and you’re thinking every day about the World to Come.
Now, whether they’ll give you a front seat, or a middle seat or a back seat, that will depend on how much effort you put into the things we speak about here.
But they are going to welcome you; that's guaranteed.
May we all succeed in meriting a glorious portion in Olam Haba.