How can one be inscribed in the book of Life?
In a famous story, a talmid of Rabbi Avigdor Miller asked him this question. How can one be inscribed in the book of Life?
The Rabbi answered – Smile
The Talmid thought that he misheard the question and he asked again with a smile How can one be inscribed in the book of Life?
The Rabbi answered again– Smile
Confused, the talmid went to the Rabbi’s Grandson who asked his Grandfather to explain. He told the story of a business that reviews the contribution of each of the employees to see if they contributed or cost the business money. There were no exceptions to this – if they cost more than they brought in then they were fired. So, the boss and his assistant reviewed all the employees on these criteria until they got to a certain employee who did not meet the criteria and had to be fired. In this case, the assistant objected and say he can not be fired. Even though the employee did not bring in the bucks, he had a very favourable personality and smile which brought happiness to both staff and customers.
So, here we have the secret, the secret to life is to Smile. The secret to life is to say a positive good morning, be nice to those who you encounter and this will have the positive ripple effect on the people who come across.
While this may be a simple act it can lead to higher actions like concern for others , judging favourably and love of your fellow man – Jews and Gentile alike.
I think it would be appropriate to reflect on Rabbi Miller’s TEN STEPS TO GREATNESS
STEP ONE: Spend at least 30 seconds each day thinking about the WORLD TO COME – Olam Haba – and that we are in this world only as a preparation for the World to Come. This is the purpose of life.
STEP TWO: Spend a few seconds each day in a private place and say to the Almighty, “I love you God.” You will be fulfilling a positive commandment from the Torah. This will kindle a fire in your heart and will have a powerful effect on your character. Your exteriority bestirs your interiority. The Almighty is listening. He loves you much more than you love Him.
STEP THREE: Every day do one act of kindness that no one knows about, in secrecy. Have intention beforehand that you are doing this in order to fulfill your program to greatness.
The practice of doing acts of kindliness – Gemilut Hasadim – is one of the three most important functions in the world.
Examples: If your wife is not in the kitchen, clean a few dishes or straighten up for her without her knowing. If you should see something potentially dangerous on the sidewalk, clear it off to the side so no one will get hurt.
STEP FOUR: Encourage someone every day. “The Almighty encourages the humble.” Have in mind you are doing it because of the program. Anonymous letters of kindness can do a great deal of good to encourage people.
STEP FIVE: Spend one minute a day thinking about what happened yesterday. “Let us search out our ways and investigate.” Everyone should have his mind on what he is doing – by reviewing yesterday’s actions daily.
STEP SIX: Make all your actions for the purpose of Heaven. Say it once a day.
Example: “I am doing this in order to be more aware of the Almighty.”
STEP SEVEN: Be aware of the principle — “Man was created in the image of God.” Every human face is a reflection of the Almighty. Your face is like a screen and your soul like a projector which projects on your face the glory of the human soul which has in it the greatness of the Almighty. Once a day pick a face and think “I am seeing the image of God.” You will begin to understand the endless nobility of a face.
STEP EIGHT: Once a day give a person a full smile. Just as the Almighty shines on us, we should smile on others. Smile because the Almighty wants you to, even though you really don’t want to.
When you smile have intentions that you are doing it for the purpose of coming closer to the Almighty through the Ten Steps To Greatness.
STEP NINE: “The Almighty clothes the naked.” Clothing is a testament to the nobility of man. Man is unique — has free will, has a soul, made in the image of the Almighty. Even Angels are beneath man in greatness. To demonstrate the superiority of mankind, we must be clothed. Spend 30 seconds in the morning thinking about our garments: what a gift they are from the Almighty.
STEP TEN: Spend time each day thinking about the olden Jerusalem during the time of the Temple. Every day sit on the floor (before going to sleep), spend one second on the floor and mourn for the destruction of Jerusalem. Think “If I should forget you Jerusalem, let my right arm forget how to function” (Psalms 137:5).
“The wise man seizes the opportunity to do mitzvot” (King Solomon). The lazy person says — someday I’ll do it. If you start this program, after 30 days you will be tired. So, wait six months until you start again. Do another 30 days then wait five months and so on. After a while you might do it all the time. If you do it even one day you are extraordinary!
With thanks to Rabbi Kalman Packouz and wishing him a Refuah Shleimah
In a similar, but different vein, I am sharing A ROSH HASHANAH LETTER from Reb Shlomo ztz”l:
“So friends in these few days we still have left before Rosh Hashanah & on Rosh Hashanah itself, I bless you and me, I’m begging you and I’m begging myself — let’s get all the anger out of our hearts… all the jealousy…all the pettiness. You know if I’m petty with other people, G-d forbid, then G-d is petty with me.
But if I’m big enough, the more I open my heart for other people, the more I open the gates for myself. Friends, the blessing people give each other on Rosh Hashanah is so deep, so forceful, so very awesome. On Rosh Hashanah every person can open gates for another person if you really mean it. I want to bless you & me that we should open gates for our husbands, wives, children & the entire world this Rosh Hashanah.
Friends, I’m begging you, I’m begging you, don’t be angry, not even with yourself. Just let;s cleanse our hearts, lets cleanse our thoughts… our holy rabbis tell us, the greatest joy in the world is when you “forging”, you rejoice when something good happens for another person. On Rosh Hashanah, the acid test is, how much are you praying for someone else? In the Rosh Hashanah prayers, it’s never singular, always plural. Because I’m standing before G-d & I’m saying unless you give life to the entire world, please don’t give it to me. Unless you make everyone rich, please I don’t want to be the only rich man. Unless you give peace to the whole world, don’t give me anything, unless you give it to my husband, my wife, my children, unless you give it to Yerushalayim.
Friends! Let this year be a real beginning not the same beginning we go through every year. Let’s not begin the old record over again — let there be a new record. New teachings. New words. New thoughts. Let every breath we take feel like we never breathed before. The holy Sochachover says when we blow shofar, G-d absolutely blows a new soul into us. Lets keep this new soul so holy & so beautiful & let’s inscribe each other into the book of life. GOOD YOM TOV!!!
Wishing you all a Shana Tova, a year of blessing each other.