Q: Why is it that three gedolim were niftar in such a short period and what should we learn from it?
A: We have to learn first of all, that מי זה גבר יחיה ולא יראה מות – who is a man who will live and never see death? (Tehillim 89:49). That’s the first lesson. Everybody must live with a realistic view on life – not to be sad, not to be unhappy, but he should know that his life is not unlimited and that therefore he cannot waste time. He must get busy accomplishing.
And just as you have to get busy accomplishing things in life, you have to get busy learning how to enjoy life. Isn’t that a big chiddush? If life is short, you have to learn how to enjoy the happiness of life.
Life is full of happiness and Hakodosh Boruch Hu says, “Why are you wasting the opportunity? It’s not forever.” You have to learn how to appreciate all the gifts that Hakodosh Boruch Hu is giving you.
And that’s one of the lessons. When you see people passing away, so it has to remind you that nobody is going to be here very long. And therefore, get busy and achieve whatever you can.
Now, the fact that you say three gedolim passed away, I don’t know if it’s an exceptional thing, but still any time any gadol passes away it should certainly be a spur to us that first of all, we should make use of our lives more.
A second lesson should be, we have to try to produce gedolim. We have to support the yeshivas. We have to support kollelim.
If you’re young people, then try to be a gadol yourself – we need gedolim! No gadol is forever.
And even though it may seem to you an impossible task, don’t worry. You know, you don’t need a good head to be a gadol – you need a good pair of pants. You have to sit and learn.
If you learn the right way, of course. You have to learn and review and make sure you understand clearly and go over it and again and again and persist and make use of all your spare time and make up your mind, either you’ll become a gadol or you’ll become a big chacham or you’ll be a talmid of the chacham. The world needs today more than ever, learned Torah Jews.
And the passing of a Torah Jew should be a spur for everybody, either to support Torah institutions or to become a talmid chacham himself or do both.
TAPE # 256 (February 1979)
For more from Rav Avigdor Miller zt”l, visit TorasAvigdor.org