I've noticed that whatever people devote their lives to – whether it be various religions, or isms, or sciences, or arts, music, business, whatever – it becomes their consuming passion. Who is to say that as long as the passion is not to be mean to others, who's to say that one passion, or one purpose in living is better than another?
Who says that the devotion to Hashem and Torah is better than any other purpose?
And we'll say as follows. We'll ask each one, according to his own words. Here is a man who's devoted to flowers; he loves flowers, or loves birds. That's his whole life. So you say to him, look, you're not going to live more than 120 years. At the end of your life, what will you gain from your devotion to flowers? They'll bury you among flowers? The birds will come and sing on your grave? You'll know what's taking place? What will you gain from a lifetime devoted to flowers? Or a lifetime devoted to music? Or a lifetime devoted to idolatry? To worshiping a Buddha image with six arms? A lifetime devoted to traveling, exploration, a lifetime devoted to science – what would you get out of it? Is the science textbook promising that when you die you're going to go to a postgraduate university where you'll study for the next million years? Nobody is promising you anything like that. All they're promising you is a hole in the ground. A hole in the ground? Doesn't pay.
What do we promise him? We promise him something different. Now the question is, let's say you don't know which is true, but isn't it worth gambling on that? After all, what are you going to gain by a hole in the ground? So you must choose one or the other: choose a hole in the ground or choose eternal life. So how do you know? Well, let's say you were deceived, you won't have eternal life – a hole in the ground is surely not eternal life. Here's a vadai and here's a safek, so you might as well take the chance. Nothing to lose, simple as that.
Nothing to be gained, when the time comes everybody has to say goodbye to this world. Now is it important how you live in this world? Is it important how much fun you have in this world? It comes to an end, people get old, worn out and ill, everything turns grey and sour, until it becomes ashes to them. So it's all nothing. Memories? Memories are nothing; you don't take memories with you. And so it's a question what's going to happen after the grave. And all these isms tell you that after the grave, you'll be as dead as a doornail.
Good Shabbos and Good Yomtov To All
This is transcribed from questions that were posed to Harav Miller by the audience at the Thursday night lectures. To listen to the audio of this Q & A please dial: 201-676-3210