Rav Avigdor Miller on Reacting to the Loss of Gedolim



Is the recent loss of the two gedolim, Rav Moshe Feinstein and Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky, zichronom livrocho, an omen?


And the answer is everything is an omen and nothing is an omen.

I don’t believe in just manufacturing omens and being superstitious for nothing. When an old gadol dies, how long do you expect him to live? Till 150 years? They have to die someday.

However, we utilize the opportunity. Because to us, even if the gadol would be a thousand years old, it would be a tragedy for us.

When Rabbi Yochanan passed away at a very advanced age, so when they made a funeral hesped for him, so they said, “It’s like the sun set at midday.” It’s too early for him to die! No matter how old he is, it’s too early because we don’t want him to die.

So it’s not an omen, but we have to learn lessons from that. We have to learn the importance of great men. We have to learn the importance of training young men to become great. Somebody has to take their place. We have to learn the necessity of listening to our great men as long as we have them. We have to utilize our great men.

Now, when they were alive, there were many people who ignored them. After they die, people say, “Oooh, he died, tsk, tsk, tsk.” Where were you when he was alive? Did you come to listen to him?

Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky was sitting every Friday night in Monsey teaching chumash. For many years. In a little place, a little shul in the basement. It should have been packed; it wasn’t packed. Monsey, an עיר ואם בישראל! I’m not blaming them; they had plenty of other things to do. But Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky is teaching chumash, so most likely it was something to listen to. Then he passed away; “Tsk, tsk, tsk, he passed away.” Where were you when he was alive?

And so there are a lot of lessons to be learned and a lot of omens that people make; but there’s no special omen that we can say, because it’s part of nature that people grow old and they pass away.

However, we should utilize the opportunity for teshuva and maasim tovim.

TAPE # 591 (March 1986)