Rav Avigdor Miller on Keeping Busy During Leisure Time

Tonight the Rav stressed that being too busy is a problem and that we must avoid ha’tipul v’hatirda and create leisure time for ourselves in order to have the time to think about Hashem and our job in life. However, in the past the Rav has commented about how important it is to keep busy. Can you explain this?


Absolutely. This was explained already. If you’re a low character you have to keep busy all the time. The Gemara says that Rava’s brother, Rav Se’uram would go out into the street and he would look for fellows of low character – the troublemakers. Even among Jews there are troublemakers – the street corner boys who used to kick passerby, who used to jostle other people and bother them. So he used to collect them from the street corners with the town policemen who were Jewish. And what did he do with them? He used to harness them to the coach of his brother Rava, so that when Rava, who was Rosh Yeshiva, had to go to the Yeshiva to give his shiur, instead of horses they harnessed these human horses, and they would be pulling Rava to the Yeshiva to give his shiur. That was their way of teaching the troublemakers that you have to keep busy in life. Because freedom is good only for people who know how to make use of their freedom. But for these fellows it was the best thing for them that their freedom was taken away and that they were instead forced to pull Rava’s coach. It saved them. It kept them out of trouble. And at least when they come to the next world, Hashem will say – “What did you do? What did you accomplish?” So they’ll say, “What do You mean, what did we do? We pulled Rava’s coach. He came to the Yeshiva and said shiur because of us!”

Certainly, people who are worthless have to be kept busy. That’s why goyim are not supposed to keep Shabbos. Only Jews have a right to keep Shabbos. Akum sheshovas chayuv misa. A goy who keeps a day of rest – even if it’s on Tuesday – is chayuv misa. Hakodosh Boruch Hu doesn’t want goyim to be at leisure. What do they do when they’re at leisure? They make trouble for each other. And for themselves. Did you ever walk past the car mechanic when all the black men – and brown men – are working? None of them will say a word to you. But when you pass the same people in the evening, sitting on their front stoop, suddenly they have all the time in the world to bother you. Leisure time is not good for everyone.
Do you know how many gentiles would remain alive if it wasn’t for July 4th? This coming July 4th at least seven hundred people will be killed on the roads. At least seven hundred! And that’s besides those who will stab each other at the barbeques and in the taverns. I already told you this joke many times – but it’s worth repeating: What is it when you see three ambulances racing down the street with their sirens blaring? It’s the end of a Puerto Rican wedding. It’s sad but it’s true. Leisure time is dangerous for worthless people.

Suppose they would abolish July 4th – it would be a hatzalah for the goyim. Lives would be saved. Now, I’m not for that! July 4th is a good thing. And by the way, you should all hang out American flags. I say that you should buy flags and hang them out for the 4th of July. Listen to me – no matter how frum you are – buy a flag and hang it out. But the 4th of July is a misfortune for those people who are not capable of using their leisure time properly. And who is not capable? All of them. And therefore, the Am Yisroel, they know how to make use of their leisure time. But for the goyim, it’s a different story.

Do you know what X-mas is? Let me tell you. Did you ever head of Norman Vincent Pearl? He’s a famous galach – a famous gentile pastor. Norman Vincent Pearl made the following statement: He said, “X-mas is the season of most drunkenness, most crime and most tragedies.” Those are his words. That’s what Norman Vincent Pearl said. Hoda’as b’al din kemei’ah eidim dami. Now, li’havdil, think about our Chanukah. After Chanukah you clean up and everyone is all the better because of the glorious Holiday. And Pesach? Nobody ever stabbed anyone else at the Pesach Seder.

When I was in Lithuania, someone showed me the Letivus Idis – a Lithuanian newspaper. Every Monday morning there was a list of stabbings that took place on their day of rest, Sunday. But not one stabbing took place by us on Shabbos.
What that means is that people who know how to keep Shabbos – who know how to make use of their spare time – those are the people who are supposed to have a Shabbos. That’s why we have a Shabbos. But those who don’t know how to use their spare time, they are not supposed to have any leisure time.

TAPE # 272