Rav Avigdor Miller on Thinking For Five Minutes Straight 

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Q: 
In one of the previous lectures the Rav mentioned that if someone wants to grow great, he should think for five minutes each day on a certain possuk. Can you elaborate on that?

A:
We once had a group for young men who undertook to do this – to choose any possuk in the siddur and to spend five minutes thinking about that possuk. Now, when they heard that the first time, one of them said, “Well, I think two hours every day on certain things.” So I said “Try it anyhow.” He came back three weeks later – we used to meet as a group once every three weeks – and he said “It’s very difficult; it’s not as easy as I imagined.”

So think for five minutes on one subject; you’ll discover it’s not easy. And even though I can give the advice, but it doesn’t mean people will accept it. But if you want a path to greatness, that’s it. Choose a possuk, or a ma’amer chazal, and concentrate on it for five minutes, without letting your mind stray. Tomorrow you can start again on the same possuk.  And after some weeks pass, something is going to develop in your mind, an entire new understanding of the subject will flourish. And sometimes it can change a person’s character. There’s no question that the path of greatness is in meditation. But meditation in what? In divrei torah.

The truth is however, even in halacha it’s the same. If you take any ma’amar in halacha, a simple thing – it seems not necessary to think about – but if you will spend a few minutes thinking about that halacha, you’ll be surprised to discover kashas, you’ll discover se’ifim, paragraphs, and you’ll go into it more deeply and that’s the way to become a lamdan. Try learning with the peirush harosh, that means using your rosh, your head. Use your rosh and think into a certain possuk in Tehillim, in Mishlei, in the siddur, even a ma’amar of the gemara or a halacha. Think for five minutes straight and you’ll be amazed at the results you’ll produce.

TAPE # 526 (January 1985)