10 steps to Greatness by Rav Avigdor Miller z’’l

Rabbi Avigdor Miller was the “Rebbe” to Jews of All Backgrounds, giving Shiurim / Lectures – Teaching Dozens of Torah Classes a week. He appealed to the Scholar, the Yeshiva Student and the Common Man. His ideas were very straight and clear. He gave us 10 steps to greatness and 10 Steps for a Happy Marriage (Perhaps I’ll Include in a later post).

The idea to achieve greatness is to Emulate G-d. Connecting to G-d allows you to achieve anything you want. Obviously you have to put in the effort as well and pray.

Do the following once a day. (if this is too much, maybe do one/day)

These are Rabbi Avigdor Miller’s, obm – 10 Steps to Greatness.

1. Spend 30 seconds thinking of Olam Haba / the World to Come

2. Say once “I love you Hashem”

3. Do one act of chesed / kindness nobody know about

4. Be like Hashem who lifts the humble, say something to

encourage someone.

5. Spend 1 minute about what happened yesterday (cheshbon hanefesh / accounting of deeds).

6. Your actions should be l’shem shamayim / for sake of heaven (say once during meals)

7. Look into someone’s face and think – I’m seeing a tzelem Elokim / Image of of G-d

8. Just like Hashem’s face shines on us, give someone a big smile.

9. When saying [blessing of] “malbish arumim” (who clothes the naked in morning blessings., think about the great gift of garments. 1) they separate us from animals 2) where they come from 3) benefits of

10. When reciting the words, “If I forget you, Yerushalayim…,” sit on floor and think of Churban /  loss of Yerushalayim (privately, 1 second). Spend 30 seconds thinking of Olam Haba

He recommended doing the above exercises for thirty days. “If you feel exhausted, take a break and come back slowly. To become great, you have to be extreme.”

Rabbi Simcha Zissel zt’l, the Alter of Kelm taught:

“The education of a person (in middos) needs to be in simple things. Small things, to come through them to the greatest heights. It appears that this principle was not known to the philosophers…(who searched for a ‘sudden enlightenment’)

Through small acts, one can reach the greatest heights…this is why the great men of history chose to become shepherds. They wanted to practice acts of compassion even for animals. Through small acts, they were able to reach the greatest heights. (Chochma U’Mussar pg.9)

Courtesy of Daf Yomi Review

Here is a more elucidated list from tape # 706 of R. Avigdor Miller

Reprinted from Aish Hatorah Website.
GOOD MORNING!  When I first started learning in yeshiva in 1973 at the age of 23 there were very few books available for a Jew from a secular background who wanted to learn about his Torah background. One of the most prolific authors dealing with Jewish history, questions of science and Torah, personal growth — amongst other topics — was Rabbi Avigdor Miller, of blessed memory. His books had a profound impact on my life. He wrote: Rejoice O Youth!, Torah Nation, Behold a People, Sing, You Righteous, Awake My Glory, Praise My Soul, amongst others (available at your local Jewish bookstore, at JudaicaEnterprises.com or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242). There are over 2000 recorded lectures available that he gave over the years!

Recently, I came across Rabbi Miller’s TEN STEPS TO GREATNESS which I thought you might find of benefit. Rabbi Miller was a Torah giant, wise in Torah and secular knowledge.

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 / Hash-m, “I love you God / Hash-m.” 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 you are the first one in the Beit HaMidrash (Place of Torah Study) put the books in the proper order and place. 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 / Hash-m 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 / Hash-m. 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 / Hash-m. 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 / Hash-m shines on us, we should smile on others. Smile because the Almighty / Hash-m 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 / Hash-m through the Ten Steps To Greatness.

STEP NINE: “The Almighty / Hash-m 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 / Hash-m . 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 / Hash-m .

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).

King Shlomo / King Solomon “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!

Message from Names of Torah Readings

The names of parashiot / weekly torah readings also give a message – bereshit – in the beginning, noach, it is restful (when a person is a baby), lech lecha – you shall go – then ones objective is to go higher and higher in ruchniut / spirituality…
(if one rises daily in Torah and mitzvot) Acharei mot – after one dies , Kedoshim they will be holy.

Preciousness of Women to Hash-m

Parasha Tazria’-Metzora’– *תזריע -מצורע*

A woman who gives seed and gives birth to a boy,… she will be impure 7 days. …if she gives birth to a girl,  she will be impure 14 days.

The more a person is holy, the more impurity they attract. Thus a woman, becomes more impure when she gives birth to a girl. A woman who conceives the people of the Jewish nation is of great importance to Hash-m.  Thus the woman who gives birth to another “creator” has more holiness and thus more potential for impurity.

Her role as a mother or potential mother makes her precious to Hash-m.

This is one reason for the laws of Tzniut / Modesty for women. We don’t publicize the amount of money or jewelry we have.  Things that are precious we hide. Thus a Jewish daughter, precious in the eyes of Hash-m, Hashem thus asks them to dress modestly.

Giving Your House Away for Free – Salvation for the Miserable

A Simple Test

Generous George walks down the street.

He sees a poor man. “Here my friend – take $20 dollars.”

A wheel-chaired man is selling candy.

“I’ll buy $100 worth.”

In the playground, he yells – “Free Candy!” and distributes them.

A Rabbi is walking in the opposite direction. “Rabbi. I love your Shabbat Torah discourse. Please Take $20,000 for your Torah Day School.”

A random person comes up to him. He tells him he lives in a small studio. Feeling badly for him, George says to him “You know what take my mansion.”

George is left homeless.

He now sleeps in the street and thinks “Perhaps, I went too far.”

He regrets ONE of all his actions.

(Fill-in the Blanks)

He regrets ______ _____ ____ _____.

Give 2 Reasons Why.

My Answer –

He regrets giving away his house.
1. His house is his own shelter. His shelter takes precedence over someone else’s shelter.
2. His house is his most prized possession. His prized possessions should be given to prized individuals.

Un-normal giving. Normal regret.

Poor George. Left alone to sleep in the street.

Fiction & Reality

The story is fiction – somewhat.

Really, it happens everyday. On college campuses, in bars, in nightclubs.

What is your most prized possession?

Your house? car? computer? Phone?

Think Again.

In Torah a person is a soul clothed in a body. Your body is your most prized physical possession. Your soul is your most prized spiritual possession. Your values protect both.

Permissiveness Linked to Depression

Societies social permissiveness has given rise to a new trend called “hookups”. It has also given rise to a new reason for depression. Strangers, exchanging more than glances are feeling depressed from giving away their most valued possession – their body and values – for free – because they cave into societies pressure of unusual social mores and a fleeting desire.

Women think promiscuity may lead to appreciation and marriage. Men think they just want to have a good time. Both are mistaken. Both are on the wrong wavelength. Both are hurt from incompatible relations. They build relationships in the air that many times may lead to unstable marriages and wasted time. Instead of building a family – they build castles in the air. Once the glamor wanes, the reality sets in that they are incompatible.

The Torah’s view is for Jews to be celibate till marriage. Once one finds a suitable mate, worthy of their building a mutual family with values founded on Torah and mutual respect and Torah guided goals, the giving takes place. The couple feels a purpose in giving. The couple has a strong foundation – difficult to shake.

The Difference between Truth and Falsity

The word for TRUTH In Hebrew is EMET – spelled Aleph, Mem, Tav. Each letter is solidly grounded – the Aleph has two feet, the Mem has a horizontal Base, the Tav also has two feet. The Word for falsity – shecker – is spelled Shin, Kuf, Resh. Each one is unstable. The Shin has a pointed bottom. The Kuf has one foot and the Resh also has one foot. Thus it easily tumbles over.

Founding a Solid Relationship

  1. First part in a Solid relationship is to know the proper values – ie, Torah Values.
  2. Second is to base the relationship on those values.
  3. Third is to seek compatibility – in goals, values and raising children.
  4. Fourth is to find attractiveness.

Reason for Misery

Misery sets in when one feels they are not accomplishing purpose in life. They sold their values for a minute of pleasure. Following after purposeless pleasure, they feel they gladden the body – but at the same time they sadden the soul. Sadness sets in when the soul feels compromised. A person’s soul is his or her self.

Rehabilitation through Proper Giving

Giving can rehabilitate a person. Giving can make the average person great. Some who fell to depravity or to cruelty can rehabilitate themselves by giving to counteract the bad. Giving on the opposite extreme – for the purpose of helping, not for the purpose of self-gratification – will help them heal. If I hurt someone, let me make amends. Let them give according to Torah values. A person can always wipe the slate clean.

Religion Litmus Test – Step One – Finding the Right Values

A religion that preaches hatred – historically or currently – is falsity. G-d created men & women – who are His children. It makes no sense that G-d wants His children to be hurt. If His children do do bad, they need correction. But G-d tells no one to hurt the innocent – like any other normal father. It’s simple logic.

Many people will fail the justice test upstairs – when G-d asks them – do you think I wanted the innocent to be hurt? Thus values of a couple must be real values. G-d. given values. Only once in the history of mankind did G-d appear to an entire nation of millions of people – when G-d gave the Torah to the Jews at Mount sinai about 3,300 years ago.

The difference between happiness and sadness is the difference between good giving and bad giving. It is also the difference between a successful marriage and the opposite.

Good and Bad Giving

Giving is good. Giving is G-d’s trait. Giving satisfies the soul.

Yet, the happy man knows to whom to give and what to give.

The man who is a giver is a greater individual.

The man who gives guns to a criminal is a criminal.

The man who gives candy to children is kind.

The man who gives cigarettes to children is cruel.

A man who leads a person in the Torah’s spiritual path is kind.

A man who give people opportunities for spiritual degradation is not.

A person who gives thoughtfully and calculating the consequences is prudent.

A person who gives wantonly, without proper though can cause selfishness and spoiled children.

A person who gives of his time to help others is kind.

A person who gives of his time to hurt others is cruel.

Educating children to Love is lovely.

Educating children to hate is atrocious. They are guilty of destroying lives – of their children and the people they hate.

Giving is good.

It’s Good to Give. But give wisely.

Kosher? For Sure.

Our Neshama (soul) which is the spiritual part of life, depends on food which is physical. How come? It should depend on something spiritual not physical. Kabala explains that all food that we eat has a spiritual part in it that goes to the Neshama. Kosher food has positive spirit and non-kosher food has negative spirit.

Eating kosher allows us to understand the reasons for mitzvot.  Once a woman asked a rabbi the reason for certain mitzvahs. He asked her to eat Kosher for a month and she would understand.

Eating develops in us certain traits of the animals we eat.  Kosher animals are usually docile.

Give the Guy a Chance to Save Face

In Parashat Tzav – G-d says
“…in the place you slaughter the Olah offering, slaughter the Sin offering … ” (Vayikra / Leviticus 6:18)

One reason this is done is to save the person bringing the Sin offering from embarrassment, So people won’t know what kind of offering a person brought. We should respect people’s feelings & give people leeway to allow them to save face.

Don’t Jump – We Love You Too Much

I was walking down the street to work. A man was standing on the small tree guard – about a foot high – protecting the grass and tree from people and dogs walking on the sidewalk. I told him “Don’t Jump!” He smiled.

Unfortunately there are people who do jump, but from higher heights. They see life as pointless. Their problems seem too heavy to bear. They feel that people don’t consider them or G-d Forbid, that G-d forgot them.

Neither is usually true. G-d loves all his creatures. G-d doesn’t want the death of the evil person – He wants a person to return from their bad ways. A person can commit to improve and G-d will forgive him or her. G-d will erase the slate. And the person will start with a new day, a new slate, a new life.

I was in such a situation. I was a good looking young man. People used to tell me. When I had skin problems, I was devastated. I became a hermit. I avoided friends and social gatherings. I secluded myself in my house. I didn’t know where to turn.

I finally thought it out – and even though I thought I was “good”, I found out that G-d was sending me a message – telling me to improve. I realized – I wasn’t so careful about hurting others feelings. I realized I was lax in observing Torah. I realized I had to improve my relations between me and people and me and G-d.

Little by little, by studying Torah, I realized that every person has a special purpose in life. Every person is unique. Every person is indispensable – because no one else can accomplish what you or me can accomplish in life. We are all unique. We all have a special role in life.

My role I discovered in Torah. I learned Pirkei Avot. I realigned my values with Torah. Though it is a challenging journey to self-improvement according to Torah. Apparently a gentile can learn their role in life by learning the 7  Noahide laws from the Torah. A Jew learns the Shulhan Aruch / Code of Jewish Law to find their role.

When my father died – I was also devastated. When a parent dies – we make a special blessing – “Blessed are you G-d, King of the Universe, the True Judge.” G-d know what is good. We are to know that all that G-d does is for the good.

I found comfort in that and that other people passed the same travail and they overcame it. They were able to cope. I was too able.

Patience will get you far. Once a manic-depressive asked King Solomon – I am a person that at times I am very happy and times very sad – how can you help me? King Solomon gave him a ring that sad three word in hebrew “Gam Zu Yaavor” – Also this will pass.

Difficult times will pass. Good times will pass. The only thing we are left with is the good we do in this life.

Don’t worry – someone loves you. Either a parent. A friend. A family member. If you have difficulties – speak with them. Suicide is never a solution – solving the problem is the solution. Look for the causes and you’ll find a solution. Turn to Hash-m / G-d and He will take you out of your troubles. He always does. You just have to make an effort and pray.



What are the benefits of living an “Orthodox” Jewish lifestyle?

Someone asked a question on another site. I was tempted to answer it. The question:

What are the benefits of living an “Ultra-Orthodox” lifestyle?

Here is the way I would answer.

G-d created man with a soul and a body. The soul is the essence of the person. When the soul is happy the person is happy. Torah is what gives happiness to the soul. The Torah in essence guides you through its laws to be your true self.

When you are your true self – you are truly happy. No trying to imitate the stars. No trying to catch up with the Jones.

[Orthodox] Judaism gives a person a fulfilling life that satisfies the soul of a person. Thus a person is in touch with himself and ultimately finds true happiness. A Gallup poll presented a survey recently that showed that those that follow Torah are happiest out of all other groups in America. They live a fulfilling life, a family life a life with a close knit community. Torah is the only – divine document in which millions of people heard G-d speaking at mount Sinai. Torah is not religion. Torah is Life.

There are four questions  that a person can ask to find the veracity of Torah and find out what G-d wants from you. Jews & Gentiles can observe Torah. Gentiles Observe the 7 Noahide Laws.  Jews Observe the 10 commandments & Shulchan Aruch. Those who follow Torah have a life that G-d / Hash-m is center of their lives and thus they live a life of meaning and purpose.

As to the difficulty of finding a Job for lack of marketable skills – G-d helps in that domain as well.



Personally, I do not regard by the man-made terminologies of “Orthodox, Reform, Conservative..” . When a baby is born he or she is not “Orthodox” or “Conservative.”  They are considered Jewish if their mother is Jewish. Judaism is also clearly defined by the Torah – by looking what it says in the Shulchan Aruch by Rav Yosef Caro. It defines very clearly, what is expected of each Jew. As for what is expected of every Gentile see the Rambam – Mishne Torah (Hilchot Melachim, ch 9-10). As an aside – In chapter 11 it also explains the requirements for a person to be the Messiah.

The Hidden Killer Within – Jealousy

Jealous people. What do they want from me?

Jealousy and many emotional problems – start from one source. Low self-esteem. I want to have what another has – because I want a life like the other people.

OK. But it doesn’t mean you have to put the others down. Or make the other’s life miserable. Uplift yourself. Try to feel good about yourself. Don’t bring others down. Bring yourself up.

Jealousy rots the bones.

A Jealous person’s life is not life. It says it straight in Pirkei Avot:

Jealousy, [pursuit of] desires and honor – remove a person from the world.

Apparently a person who lives with any of the three – will end up living their lives based upon others. Their happiness is in the hands of others. It is a dependent happiness. It is not an independent happiness. Others control their life.

But there is another death that occurs with Jealousy. A person, instead of trying to be the best they can be – in terms of improving their character traits and relations between people and G-d – they get caught in the one-upsman game. I have this. You only have that? Creating quarrels but not doing good to the world or themselves. They use their life to seek approval – but don’t accomplish their potential – what greater death is there than that of Killing their potential or creativity or Torah development for silly quarrels?

Be happy with what you have. Be happy with yourself. Improve Yourself. Don’t put down others. Make yourself better. And be happy with who you are.

One reason why people are unhappy – is because a person is composed of a soul and a body. A body has no desires. It is a physical object that is being given life by a soul provided by Hash-m.

The soul is comprised of several souls. There is a soul that is more geared towards – materialism. And other souls that are more spiritual in nature.

If a person feels depressed, it might be a sign that they need to uplift their soul – with more spiritual pursuits. Like to do kindness and follow Torah.

The best place to start is to learn the Noahide laws for a Gentile or to learn the Shulchan Aruch / Code of Jewish law for Jews.

Lifting up your soul – will lift up your morale and you will not seek approval from others – but rather seek approval from Hash-m / G-d.

Bringing Up Children with Self Worth – Rehabilitating a Jewish Thief

In parasha / Torah Reading Mishpatim we learn

“When you acquire a Hebrew servant, six years he shall work and in the Seventh Year he shall go free…”

This is one of the first Commandments that the Jews receive after leaving Egypt.

It talks about a servant that was sold because he stole and couldn’t pay back the money of the object he stole.

The master is to treat him like a member of the family. If he has one pillow he gives it to the servant. If he has one bed he gives the bed to the servant. This is the way that we rehabilitate a Jewish Thief into society. We build up his self worth so that he recognizes his great value and will not stoop to stealing in the future.

The same is true with children. We teach them to self worth so that they will not fall prey to a low self-esteem and to crime or other vices.