Rav Avigdor Miller on Thanking Your Way Out of Debt

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Q:
Someone told me that if I was saved from a perilous situation, my merits are used up. Is that true?

A:
Now, if a man puts himself in danger, if he risks his life, and he happens to be saved, he should know that the Gemara says that he has used up many of his mitzvos. It doesn’t pay. It’s a lot of tefillin. A lot of שמירת שבת. It definitely doesn’t pay to put yourself in dangerous situations. If you are a smoker and your lungs are healthy, you should know that it’s costing you a lot of tefillin.

But, if somebody was in danger not because of his own fault, and הקדוש ברוך הוא rescued him from that danger, then he’s not using up any of his merits – unless he fails to appreciate it. When Hashem does something for us – not only saving us from danger – when He gives you health, He gives you the ability to use your eyes, the ability to walk, to function, and you don’t thank Him for each one of these gifts, then you’re using up all your mitzvos. You have to do something in return. So Hashem says, “Either you thank Me for your eyes, or I’ll take something from you in return.” One of your merits is subtracted from you.

You have to thank Hashem for the fact that you can walk. ברוך אתה ה׳ המכין מצעדי גבר. He establishes a man’s footsteps. You have to make that blessing every day, but that’s not enough. You have to think about what you’re saying. And you have to think about it all day long. When a man walks in the street and he sees people sitting in wheelchairs who cannot walk, and he doesn’t appreciate the great benefit of walking, the great happiness of locomotion, then Hashem says, “You’re not paying me; I’ll collect from you.” Therefore, if a person thanks Hashem for what he’s getting, then he’s not going to be forced to pay in other ways. And that’s the very great importance of thanking – otherwise we’re in debt. Very deep debt.
TAPE # 776