A Moment with Rabbi Avigdor Miller
This email is transcribed from questions that were posed to Harav Miller by the audience at the Thursday night lectures.
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QUESTION: Are we permitted to walk on Kings Highway because of lack of tznius?
Wherever we walk on the streets today is the same problem. A person must fill his mind at all times with noble thoughts.
The Rambam says, only a mind empty of Torah that turns to these things. Of course nature abhors a vacuum, if the mind is a vacuum, so foolish ideas will come in. Every idealistic Jew should make it his business always to have idealistic thoughts, and it's not too difficult. You can train yourself of thinking happy thoughts, joyous
Your brain is receiving messages from the outside world and arranging all the affairs of your body. The body itself as it functions in a normal fashion is such a simcha to have, such a happiness.
When people think these thoughts, there's no need to have any other ideas in the head except the simchas hachayim. If one will introduce into his mind noble pictures from our great past, he'll think of experiences of our nation; krias yam suf, he'll think of the maan, there's no end of good things in this world to think about.
As you pass the stores, you see food, bakeries, groceries, fruit stores, hazon es haolm kulo b'tuvo, Hashem feeds the world with kindliness. There are so many good things to think about, that there's actually no need that the mind should be vacant and allow the foolishness of the world to enter.
Of course, if a person invites wrong ideas, that's his fault. Let's say he buys a New York Times, he's asking for trouble. He's opening his mind for rishus and apikorsus and immorality. I'm not talking about the meshugaim who bring in through a TV into their homes gentiles and leitzim; they're asking for trouble.
When a person is trying to fill his mind with kedushah and thoughts of happiness, even simchas olam hazeh, there's so much to be happy! Simchu tzadikim B'Hashem, so much to be happy about in this world. Therefore there's no need that the mind should be empty and allow the wrong thoughts to enter.
And so when you walk on Kings Highway think about the trees...Why are there no leaves on the tree now? Because we don't want any shade, we want the sunshine. In the wintertime, no shade only sunshine. In the summertime you need shade, the trees are giving you leaves and shade. Think about that, isn't that wonderful!! When we look at the tree, study the fact that no one branch grows directly underneath the branch above it. The branches are all spread out like fingers in order to catch as much sunlight as possible. Never does a branch of a tree grow underneath a branch above it, a wonderful thing to see that. When you study the trees on the street you see the niflo'os haborei.
When you look at the sun shining on you, sunlight as it strikes your skin, it creates vitamins, a very important function of the sun. Those who don't get any sunlight sometimes suffer from rickets; their bones don't manufacture enough calcium and get bowlegged. Also the wind, the wind sweeps the air fresh, even cold winds freshen the air and as you breathe the cocktail of oxygen and nitrogen, a little carbon dioxide, breathe deeply and it invigorates your blood.
So there is happiness to think about on the street. As you look at the stores, clothing; clothing is a miracle, malbish arumim. Why does cotton grow? Cotton is not for animals to eat, cotton is just a waste it seems. No, cotton is a wonderful plant that Hashem made, vayas Hashem Elokim l'adam u'lishto kosnos ohr, He made garments to cover their skin...
The wonder of wool that grows on the backs of sheep, a sheep eats grass and from the grass produces wool. A sheep doesn't eat wool, it eats grass and it makes wool out of the grass. So when you see clothing stores it's wonderful, malbish arumim... When you pass the fruit stores and you think, in every fruit there are seeds, asher zaro bo, every fruit has seeds, a miracle. How did the seeds get inside of the fruit?
Suppose you opened up an apple and found a quarter inside, it would be a nes, but a quarter is nothing, it's a dead thing, a seed is alive. In every seed there is at least a million bits of information to help it turn into a tree. So when you see a fruit stand, asher zaro bo, everything has a seed in it, miracle, miracle, miracle. So as you pass by the street you don't have time to think of anything but the niflo'os haborei.
Therefore like Dovid Hamelech said, es'haleich lifnei Hashem b'artzos hachayim, he said let me walk before Hashem in the land of the living. The Gemara says in Yuma, zeh mkom shvokim, it's a place where there are markets, and Rashi says where you can buy anything. A place where there's everything to buy, you see chasdei Hashem, you don't have to buy everything, but the fact that's it's available is a very big simcha.
So the streets are a happy place, a person can be a big philosopher in a Torah sense and become an oveid Hashem merely by thinking these thoughts in the street.
Therefore there's no need in the street to waste your mind on the wrong kind of thoughts.