- Smile—You're on Heaven's Candid Camera: Rav Avigdor Miller on Parshat Vayeishev (taken from HERE)
- How the Baby Steps in This World Create Your Future World of Beautiful Pulsating Light (Rav Eliyahu Dessler)
- The #1 Thing to Keep Doing When You Find Yourself Sinking in Mud (Rav Levi Yitzchak Bender)
We know this matters because Rav Dessler wrote in Strive for Truth that any teshuvah you initiate in this world provides you with eternal progression in the World to Come.
Any teshuvah you do here starts off a marvelous chain reaction that continues with you for eternity.
And this is a big reason why people like Rav Levi Yitzchak Bender, Rav Itamar Schwartz, and Rav Avigdor Miller encourage people with baby-steps.
Lo alecha hamalacha ligmor—You are not obligated to finish the work.
But you must still work it!
Even 10 seconds of it—the time it takes to walk from one utility pole to the next.
You as the Star of the Most Terrifying Zombie Movie
Thoughts of avodah zarah, like other religions or meditations.
Evil thoughts, scheming plans to destroy other people.
It's like those awful horror movies in which everyone is walking around crazed or zombified.
And then the scene switches...to you.
You in a Tear-Jerking Scene of the Historic Movie
And you think about Hashem for the time it takes you to walk to the next utility pole.
And tears stream down the faces of everyone in the audience.
"That was such a beautiful scene!" they sob.
Likewise, when you say, "Now I am upholding the mitzvah of loving Hashem—I love You, Hashem."
Everyone's in floods as they watch your heart-stirring scene.
A hero against a billion mindless yet destructive zombies!
We don't feel it now.
But we will.
You as a Thrilling Climax of the Historic Movie
But this time, you're holding your tongue.
Maybe you wanted to reveal a particularly juicy bit of lashon hara. Maybe you wanted to indulge in some particularly gratifying ona'at devarim.
Maybe you were just insulted and you want desperately to snarl back, but you remember how, in Hashem's Eyes, it's better to be from the insulted rather than the insulters, and you want the blessing the comes from being silent.
Maybe you wanted to criticize or explode.
Doesn't matter. They're all excellent reasons to hold your tongue.
So there you are, with your lips pressed together. Maybe your mouth is twitching and you have a pained or angry look on your face, but your lips remain pressed together.
And maybe you feel good about your restraint...or maybe you don't.
If you haven't grown up with this ideal or if you aren't at all used to such self-restraint, you might feel awkward, stupid, frustrated, insecure, or resentful.
But now the audience is going wild with cheering.
Because again, they see you against the backdrop of billions of people over thousands of years—people who said whatever they wanted regardless of the consequences for anyone else. And also the billions of people who tweeted nastiness, who abused the comment sections of Facebook & websites, and who left soul-destroying messages on WhatsApp & Instagram. (3.6 billion people are on social media right now.)
Yet here you are, with your mouth closed against all odds!
It's like when that little one-man battleship needed to fly deep into the massive planet-destroying Death Star to destroy it.
He succeeds; it blows up in a planet-sized explosion.
But no one knows if that pilot managed to get out in time...
They think he's dead.
And then...he appears!
He made it!
He destroyed the Death Star, saved the Universe—and made it out alive!
What a wild finale!
So that's how everyone feels when they're going to see you with your painfully closed mouth.
Likewise, as you flail in the mud at today's 50th level of tumah, hopping from one foot to the other, struggling to free yourself from the mud, but you manage to do no more than get one foot out when the other foot gets sucked back in again.
You feel frustrated, despairing, exhausted, and gunky.
To make things worse, others deride your efforts.
Most of the world does not understand why you don't simply lie down in the mud and relax by streaming in some trashy brainwashing Hollywood films while snacking on non-kosher hot dogs & making nasty or inane remarks on social media.
Yet you're relying on Rav Bender's exhortation in Words of Faith:
"One foot in, one foot out.
But the main thing is that the last foot should be outside."
And your final scene ends...with one foot out of the mud.
The audience goes wild—YOU DID IT!
It's a million times more thrilling & meaningful than the special effects of the pilot making it out of the Death Star alive.
And that's the truth.
Only we don't feel it now.
But we will.