Our Obligation To Live A “Normal Life” | Rav Avidor Miller ZT”L

Q: Why should we buy a home? If Moshiach comes, we’ll have to liquidate it and go to Eretz Yisroel. So maybe it’s better we should just keep the cash in the bank?

A: Hakodosh Boruch Hu told Yirmiya HaNavi, “You’re going to Bavel for 70 years.” And He said to him as follows: בנו בתים – “Build homes in Bavel and settle there. Have children and see that your daughters are married off.” (Yirmiyahu 29: 5-6). Get busy and live a normal life wherever you are, because life must go on! “When the time will come,” Hashem says, “I’ll call the shots.”

Don’t disturb your normal life meanwhile. Of course, while you’re doing all these things – building houses and marrying off your children – do it l’shem Shomayim. Remember Hakodosh Boruch Hu! Be grateful all the time! Teach your children Torah and so on. But don’t break up your lives. We’re not supposed to break up our lives.

If you’ll liquidate your house and make it into money and you’ll wait for Moshiach, by the time Moshiach comes, you won’t have any money left and who knows if you won’t have to go to the poorhouse before that.

So therefore, that’s the system of the Torah. We don’t liquidate anything now. You don’t know how long it’ll take. You have to hope every day, but you cannot make any reckless steps.

And even people who tell you, “Go now. Sell your homes and settle in Eretz Yisroel” – even though they’re not saying because of Moshiach; they’re just saying to settle in Eretz Yisroel – you need a lot of circumspection. You need a lot of good advice before you do such a thing.

I’ll tell you a little story. Reb Yisoel Salanter was once approached by a man many years ago who was thinking of going to Eretz Yisroel.

So Reb Yisroel said, “No.”

So he says, “Why?”

“Because in Eretz Yisroel,” he said, “you’ll become a beggar. You’ll have to come constantly to beg for money. There’s no way of making a living.” In those days you couldn’t make a living. “Where you are now,” Reb Yisroel said, “you’re making a living.”

Now what do we see from this? It’s the words of a big chacham. We see that making a living is a very important thing. Your morale breaks down when you don’t have a parnassah. When you need charity, who knows to what depths, what moral depths of degradation you’ll fall. It’s very degrading. It’s breaking of the spirit. It’s discouraging.

Only great people are able to overcome poverty and to continue; and even those, you have to know a lot of people have died young in Eretz Yisroel because they didn’t work.

Now I’m not discouraging learning. People who are able to learn successfully, go ahead. But there are people who didn’t have enough to eat, who neglected their health and died young as a result of poverty. And Hakodosh Boruch Hu is not happy when people ruin their health because of poverty.

So if you’re able to live successfully under certain circumstances, then go ahead and do it. But most people must take good advice before you do it. It says הרבה עשו כרבי שמעון בן יוחאי ולא עלתה בידם – many people tried to do like Rabi Shimon ben Yochai who didn’t want to do anything except learn Torah and they didn’t succeed. Some can, but the multitude cannot. Not everybody is suited to that existence.

And therefore, it’s important to take counsel. Don’t liquidate anything before you get the go ahead from somebody who knows.

TAPE # 400 (March 1982)

More from Rav Avigdor Miller zt”l can be accessed by visiting TorasAvigdor.org

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