Rav Avigdor Miller on Happy New Year Greetings

Why do we wish our fellow Jews a כתיבה וחתימה טובה or a גמר טוב? Does that really help the other person? 

It depends. When you say to somebody כתיבה וחתימה טובה will it help him? It depends. It depends with how much sincerity you are saying it. If you’re just saying it מצות אנשים מלומדה, without thinking, then it’s worthless. Mamash worthless. But of you’re thinking when you say it, and when he walks away you say it a second time – yes, when he walks away you should say it a second time – then it means something. You hear what I’m telling you? When he walks away, say it over again slowly. כתיבה וחתימה טובה. And even better – add your own words. “רבונו של עולם, please give this man a year of happiness and parnasa and שלום בית.” He doesn’t hear you. But now you mean it.

When you do it that way, הקדוש ברוך הוא listens. Hashem listens to tzadikim, and you’re a tzadik if you pray for him in that way. ותן כבוד השם לעמך. Hashem listens. Certainly He listens. When tzadikim give you a bracha, it means something. Of course it means something. Tzadikim can help by giving a bracha.

And same thing with שבת שלום. When you say it the first time it doesn’t mean a thing. So when he walks away, repeat it. Say “שבת שלום. Have a wonderful Shabbos. Enjoy the chulent. Hashem should give you a good nap.” Ohhh, now you’re talking! That’s something; that’s an achievement!

But doesn’t the judgement of Hashem on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur go according to your deeds? What’s a bracha going to help? 

Absolutely a man is judged according to his deeds. But tefillah helps. So you ask, why does your tefillah help? If you’re judged according to your deeds, why do you pray? You’re going to be judged according to your deeds, that’s all, so why pray?

And the answer is, that’s part of your deeds. When you pray that’s part of your deeds. And the deeds of somebody else can also help you. The zchus of other people can also help you, yes.

And by the way, when you’re praying on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, and every day as well, you say שלום רב על עמך ישראל תשים לעולם. You pray for for the whole Jewish nation, not only for yourself. You say it בלשון רבים. You say כתבינו and חתמינו. We’re thinking, “Hashem, remember us. All the members of our shul. All the people who come to our shiurim. Our wives. Our children. Our grandchildren. All the בני ישיבה. All the Yeshivos. Satmar Yeshiva. Mir Yeshiva. Chaim Berlin. Bobov. Torah Va’daas. Passaic. All the yeshivos. And all the girls’ schools. Beis Yaakov, Yeshiva of Brooklyn, Prospect Park, all the frum girls. Then, all their fathers and mothers. All the Jews who keep kashrus and Shabbos and טהרת המשפחה. All the Jews who are busy keeping the Torah.” We say, “הקדוש ברוך הוא, bless them.” The Slobadka Yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel. And Chevron. And Mir. And Ponovezh. Say it; say it with your mouth. Not merely thinking. With your mouth say it.

” Ohhh,” הקדוש ברוך הוא says. “You’re fulfilling what you want Me to do. Now I see that you mean business.” If you want Hashem to bless the עם ישראל, then you should get busy giving blessings.

And that’s what we say in שים שלום. We say כתבינו – all of us! You have to always think about other people. And כל המבקש רחמים על חבירו והוא צריך לאותו דבר הוא נענה תחילה. If you pray for others, you get the first results for yourself (Bava Kama 92a). It’s so important to think of other people. Think of the Jewish nation in general, but also think about the details. You can think of your father-in-law and your mother-in-law, besides your own parents. Think of your cousins, your children, your grandparents, your grandchildren. Think about all of them. You can say their names too. Not in the middle of Shemonah Esrei, but at the end make sure to say it. Say the words. Give a bracha to all Jews.

When you pass by a house and you see a big mezuzah, say “You should all have a גמר חתימה טובה.” Did you ever think about that? Absolutely. When you pass by a house, you should say, “גמר חתימה טובה.” Who’s listening? Hashem is listening. Hashem hears you! And that’s more important than the people in the house hearing you.

This is very important what I’m telling you now. It’s not a small matter. That’s why we say the whole davening בלשון רבים. Some people think that רבים means “We.” [The Rav pointed at himself]. People think that רפאנו and ברכנו means, “Bless me,” “Heal me.” The royal “We.” “We means me,” he thinks. No; we means we. All of the loyal Jews. על כל ישראל עמך. The whole Jewish people. We love the Jewish nation. I love the Jews in תימן. I love the sefardi Jews in America. I love the chassidisheh Jews in Williamsburg. We love everybody. All frum Jews, we love them all.

Some of them are much better than us. Much better. And we love them anyhow. We love all frum Jews. We love Boro Park. Say that. Say, “I love Boro Park! I love all the frum Jews in Boro Park. רבונו של עולם, watch over all of the Boro Park frum Jews and Flatbush frum Jews.” Say it!

And Hashem says, “Oh; now I see that you mean business. You’re blessing my children. So now I’ll get busy blessing you.”

TAPE # E-201