Rav Avigdor Miller on Roaches in the Bank Vault (March 1984)

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Q:
If life throws us problems and curveballs all the time, how do you expect us to just overcome our anxiety and our bad middos – middos which are incited by these situations – and become successful?

A:
How does a person overcome bad middos that are simply the result of the circumstances that he finds himself in? The truth is that there are no excuses for bad middos. Always, bad middos are incited by some situation. It’s always like that. And therefore, a man should realize that this life is a golden opportunity, and he can’t waste it by yielding to circumstances.

Let’s say, for some reason, they would let you into a big bank vault where they keep extra cash. They keep thousand dollar bills in big packages. Hundred thousand dollar bills in big packages! A lot of them, all over the place. There’s no end of it. And let’s say the president of the bank says, “You know, I’m going to let you into my bank vault in my bank just for one minute. And you can take all that you can. Whatever you can grab you can keep.”

So you walk in and first thing you say is, “Oh, it’s stuffy in here. I can’t do anything in here! How can I work in here? It’s so stuffy!” So you wait until he brings in a fan, and he makes it nice and comfortable for you, nice and convenient. Ohhh, now you’re all ready to accomplish! But by that time the minute is over.

And when you come into this world, it’s only a minute this world. And in this minute there are more than thousand dollar bills available. Such mitzvos such as walking in the ways of Hashem are worth a million dollars each second. You can’t afford to waste time saying, “Well, this thing upsets me, and this thing bothers me.” And therefore you’ll wait till it’s nice and convenient, which will never be anyways. And you’ll lose your opportunity.

So a man has to be strong enough of character to say, “I don’t care what it is! It can thunder and it can hail, whatever it is, I’m just going to go about my business collecting the thousand-dollar bills. As many as I can grab, right now!”

Let’s say you walked into that bank vault and it was full of spiders. It was full of mosquitoes. It was full of rats. What are you going to do? Wait until the exterminator comes?! No, you’ll dive in. You’ll chase the rats off. You’ll brush off the cockroaches, or you’ll pull out the bundles of thousands even with the cockroaches! Who cares?! A thousand dollars you can’t find every second. It’s only one minute of life! Life is too precious to waste by being discouraged and disgusted and downcast and dispirited and despondent. All these things are for fools. Because life will just pass by, and that man will have to go into an insane asylum, and he’ll have to wait till he recovers, and then when he’s an old man, ready to die, they’ll let him out and he’ll just toddle off to the grave?!

We have to be cheerful and happy and business-like all our lives. And grab! Grab all we can, constantly, no matter what the weather is! No matter what the circumstances are! There are no excuses for being a fool and wasting your life.

TAPE # 494 (March 1984)