| Magazine Feature |


Why Are Thousands Still Clamoring for Rabbi Avigdor Miller’s Wisdom?

Photos: Menachem Edelman Studios

Two men, from two different worlds within the Jewish melting pot that is Brooklyn. For them, Torah Avigdor bridged all divides, and now they were at a crossroads: The booklets were being distributed all over the US and even Israel, but you can’t set kids up to staple a thousand booklets a week. What could be done to keep up with the demand? To understand the phenomenon, you have to understand the person: Who was Rabbi Avigdor Miller?

is the largest weekly English-language devar Torah booklet publication the world over.

It began with one person on a bike, with no intention, no plan, almost by happenstance.

He was joined soon enough by someone else, a man with a Rabbi Miller book gemach, from a completely different crowd — with a bit more know-how, but not much more of a plan. Between them and some pivotal others, Toras Avigdor exploded into the Torah paper we know today, distributed in shuls, institutions, and kosher stores worldwide, the Torah of Rabbi Avigdor Miller savored by thousands of people each week, thought by penetrating thought.

It’s these two, the bike man and the book man, that I meet today.

The first is Rabbi Amichai Markowitz. He was learning in Eretz Yisrael post-yeshivah in the late ’80s.

“I remember when I was leaving Eretz Yisrael, I davened my last Minchah in Itzkowitz in Bnei Brak,” he says. “My tefillah, on the brink of departure, was this: Hashem, I need a rebbi in the States, please send me a rebbi.

“About two years later, I met Rabbi Miller. I listened, I heard, but at first, I didn’t take everything he was saying on board. I thought some of it was in conflict with what I knew. But as I got to know him, I began to realize the gadlus of who he was, of his mind, and I was mevatel my daas to him. He became, in every sense, my rebbi. He lived close by, and we’d walk on Ocean Parkway and talk. That was it, Hashem answered my tefillah.”

Rabbi Miller’s flagship shiur was said to be the one he gave on Thursday nights. Amichai didn’t go to that one; he had a longstanding chavrusashaft then. He went Shabbos afternoon instead, when Rabbi Miller gave an Ein Yaakov shiur. But he would purchase the tapes of the Thursday night lectures from the Rebbetzin each week and listen to them on his Walkman a few times over the week.

Rabbi Miller would always conclude his shiurim with hashkafah Q&As. “I loved that, the randomness, the informality, that he was okay with any and every type of question coming his way,” Reb Amichai says.

The Last Laugh

The second man at the table is Rabbi Pinchas Wolhendler. He grew up in Seagate and went through the chassidish system in neighboring Boro Park. Rabbi Miller seemed to be outside of this remit. Reb Pinchas was shteiging in yeshivah and thought he had his situation with rebbeim figured out.

“I had a friend from Seagate whose family was originally chassidish, but he went to litvish yeshivos,” says Reb Pinchas. “Once I saw him carrying Reb Avigdor’s sefer under his arm. I said to him, ‘You’re descended from the great chassidic masters, an einekel of the Bnei Yissaschar. You’re not embarrassed to carry this sefer? Why not learn from the chassidish greats?’

“And now, I’m involved with Toras Avigdor and that friend is having the last laugh on me.”

Reb Pinchas was at a mitzvah tantz and the badchan was imitating Rabbi Miller. The badchan said they once asked Rabbi Miller why the chicken crossed the road.

“You shouldn’t be asking why, you should ask how. Did you know that a regular-sized chicken has at least 10,000 feathers? For a chicken to cross the road, it’s a great niflaos haBorei…”

Everyone in the wedding hall was laughing, but Reb Pinchas was thinking, Hey, I like the sound of this rebbi.

Then Reb Pinchas got a hold of a book of Rabbi Miller’s Q&As, put out by Betzalel Miller of Lakewood, whose father had been an active member of Rabbi Miller’s kehillah (not related). That gave Reb Pinchas his first taste. A short while later he got married, and lo and behold, his new father-in-law liked to listen to Rabbi Miller in the car.

“I wanted to listen too, but I just couldn’t,” Reb Pinchas says. “Those tapes put me to sleep. Reading was my way in. I bought one book and then another, and another. I was so taken. Eventually I amassed a library, and from there came the gemach.

Rabbi Wolhendler indicates the bookcase in the office. “Those are actually the books, right here behind us. And that’s his very own bookcase, the one from the Miller home, now filled with the books that he wrote. We brought it here.”

He points to a small brown table in the corner of the room. “And we have his kitchen table too. Part of Rabbi Miller’s incredible avodah was that he was able to come to ahavas Hashem through eating. This happened right at this table, and right here is where Rabbi Markowitz sits and writes his Torah.”

I ask them if the family was happy to part with these cherished items.

Pinchas laughs and says, “Well, I’m chassidish — that’s the difference between the family and me. When I started listening and connecting with Rabbi Miller’s Torah, I became a chassid, of the Rebbi, of his Torah. And yes, I also believe in the kedushah of his things. His family, they’re people of the book, and only the book. They don’t see anything in a table. They were like, ‘You want it, you think it’s special? You can have it.’ ”

Reb Amichai, the one who sits at that table, relates the humble beginnings to Toras Avigdor. He often listened to Rabbi Miller’s shiurim and particularly enjoyed the Q&A at the end. When a certain question caught his interest, he transcribed it and emailed it to some 20 friends.

“My friends liked that,” he says. “It was early summer, and I was listening all the time anyhow. I figured I’d send something related to Pirkei Avos before each Shabbos.”

“You skipped some good details,” Reb Pinchas says.

Turns out Rabbi Markowitz was — still is — an English teacher in Boro Park, and he bicycled each day to school from his home in Flatbush. He’d listen during the ride, and when he got to a part he wanted to share, he’d stop his bike mid-route and type it out on an Android with a cracked screen.

“I didn’t have a computer at home,” Reb Amichai says. “For two years, that’s how the operation ran, from a phone with a cracked screen.”

“We should’ve kept it,” Reb Pinchas says. “Put that phone in a display case in the office…”

Little by little, the email list grew. Soon people wanted print copies, and Reb Amichai’s mother, the indefatigable Mrs. Edythe Markowitz, got involved, doing the typesetting and printing. Later she helped with organizing the subscribers and creating a database of the Rav’s Q&As. She has her own connection to Rabbi Miller’s Torah and was deeply committed to the cause.

Reb Amichai put copies in Rabbi Landau’s shul, the busiest one in Flatbush, along with a note telling people that they could sign up for daily Q&As from Rabbi Miller.

He was buoyed by the feedback and by how quickly the copies went. He wanted to do more — grow his email list, reach more people.

“My chavrusa, Moishy Klein, wanted to be mechazek me. He mentioned that he’d seen an ad for a Rabbi Miller book gemach in Boro Park, and said that guy would probably be interested in the email. I added him to the list, and sometime later got an email from him saying he’s enjoying the material, why don’t I do more, put it on a website.

I’m not tech-savvy, I responded.

Let’s get together, he wrote back.

“He was Pinchas Wolhendler. Hashgachah had put us in touch.”

How to Live Your Life

Around then, someone with a soon-to-be bar mitzvah son asked Reb Amichai to prepare a pshtetl. He just wanted something simple and clear, nothing too lomdish. Reb Amichai culled his trove of Rabbi Miller’s material to put something together for the bar mitzvah bochur. As it was timely and parshah-related, he thought he might as well send it out to his email followers.

The effort was well-received, and that’s where the idea to write a devar Torah on the parshah came from. Because Rabbi Miller didn’t speak specifically on the parshah, Reb Amichai would have to search his shiurim for mentions of the parshah and weave together a devar Torah.

“Honestly, it was hard,” he says. “I wanted to leave it at the Q&As. I loved those, they were my baby. But Pinchas saw the power in the parshah idea, and he pushed for it.”

They started printing the devar Torahs, 100 a week, in Flatbush and Boro Park at first.

“We wrote it up, and Pinchas designed it and sent it back to me in a booklet format,” Reb Amichai recounts. “I bought a regular Brother printer for $200. On Thursday evenings, I’d set my kids up in an assembly line along the dining room table. Print, fold, staple.” He laughs. “They still haven’t forgiven me.”

They included information about the email list in the booklet, which generated still more subscribers. The interest was staggering. It was too much to keep up with.

“Once on a Friday, I went to a print shop in Boro Park and spent 50 bucks on printing,” Pinchas says. “I thought that was a lot, but it all went, quickly.”

And then word spread beyond Brooklyn. A Lakewood visitor to Flatbush saw the Toras Avigdor booklet, and reached out to Rabbis Markowitz and Wolhendler to ask their permission to bring it to Lakewood.

“Sure, the Torah was there,” Reb Amichai says. “We just wanted to spread it as far as it could go.”

The way they ensured the success of this expansion should tell you something about their devotion to the project. They didn’t just send this Lakewood visitor the email with the devar Torah; they ordered him a printer, along with a toner and paper, so he could set up the Toras Avigdor assembly line in Lakewood.

Then a rav from Cincinnati was visiting Lakewood for Shabbos, and saw the pamphlet. When he inquired how he could get it to his community, they sent him a printer too. And it went on like that.

And then one day, they got a phone call from Duvid Rosenberg of Lakewood. “I see what you’re doing, I want to be involved. Let’s talk shop.”

“He was our first big sponsor,” Reb Pinchas says. “The first thing he did was take on the costs of the printers for different communities.”

But after two years of running Toras Avigdor — the first year Amichai on his own, and the second year with Pinchas — the endeavor had grown exponentially, beyond what any of them had imagined, and they were at crossroads. Toras Avigdor was now appearing in communities all over the States. The growing scope demanded serious money.

“You can’t set kids up to staple 1,000 booklets,” Pinchas says. “But really, this was spreading like wildfire. To understand it, you need to understand the person, the mehalech, the Torah. Who was Rabbi Avigdor Miller?”

They soon held a big meeting with Rosenberg and some others about the next frontier for Toras Avigdor. Moishy Klein — Amichai’s chavrusa and Toras Avigdor’s treasurer — turned to the oilem and said, “Raboisai, why are we doing this? We have day jobs, we’re busy people. Let’s go around the table and say why we’re here.”

One by one, the people at the table spoke of their connection to the Torah of Rabbi Miller, how it spoke to their hearts.

“And that was part of his gadlus,” says Amichai. “That he spoke to all different types of people. He was here to teach you how to live life to its fullest, and that was not specific to yeshivah or kolleleit. He spoke to people in the workplace, to mothers with children. He showed everyone how they could bring avodas Hashem into whatever they were doing.”

“But also in yeshivah,” Pinchas says. “I was always in learning, and boy, did he speak to me. He had a giant mind.

“I heard a tape of him talking in a packed shul. He made a statement from out of left field: ‘In my lifetime, I’ve read more books than all of you sitting here.’ There were young people, older people, professionals, and yet he could make a statement like that, knowing that it was absolutely true.

“He was brilliant, but he knew how to break it down for the masses. There was little in his talk that was abstract, no fanciful ideas. It was eminently practical.”

Pinchas pauses. “I would say he’s a translator. He translated the Torah for this generation.”

Amichai relates that Rabbi Miller used to say that everything he taught he’d learned in Slabodka.

“But how could that be?” Amichai asks, “He was only there a few years, learning Gemara most of that time. No matter, Slabodka formed him. His rebbi, Rav Isaac Sher, told him it was important to convey ideas that people could apply in their lives. And so he did that.”

Staying Authentic

Rabbi Miller always kept one foot in Slabodka, but the other was planted on American soil, in touch with the challenges of the 20th century. He tried to relate his Torah to practical life, and he wanted people to be able to review his shiurim, to let the ideas seep in. In the early ‘70s, Rabbi Miller had his shul, Bais Yisroel, renovated to install dozens of electrical outlets, to allow attendees of his shiur to be able to plug in tape recorders.

In his life, and in his tapes, he inspired, motivated, and encouraged — and always spoke his mind. His manner was forthright and direct; there was no sugar-coating.

“Our goal is to remain completely authentic to what he said,” Amichai says. “We’re not here to be a filter.”

“Do some people get turned off by what they perceive as harshness?” Pinchas asks. “Yes, they do, and then it’s not for them.”

Amichai qualifies, “Look, people pick up a booklet here and there, they read an isolated piece, or hear something strong, and that’s how they see him. But they don’t have the full picture. If they had the full context of the greatness of Rabbi Miller and his Torah, they’d see it differently.”

Pinchas maintains that it’s a personality type. Some people appreciate directness, and some just get turned off by it.

“I remember speaking with Rabbi Miller about an issue in the family once,” Amichai says. “He was very direct with me, he gave me a pointed piece of advice. I was taken aback, but then I realized that he’s taking this seriously, he’s taking me seriously.”

“It’s about being a mevakesh emes,” Pinchas says. “What he’s saying is truth, and sometimes it might not be popular or pretty, but it’s emes.”

“Really, his incredible ability to reach people is all of these things together,” Amichai says. “The sheer volume of material that he put out, over years and years, the scope of it, shiurim and questions on every topic under the sun, the truth he wasn’t ever afraid to say, the relevance and applicability to people’s lives. The word we kept hearing from members at that crucial meeting, and from Toras Avigdor readers all along, is ‘lifechanging.’ People don’t say that so easily, but it’s true, it’s true for me.”

Amichai shares a personal memory. “Rabbi Miller was niftar on a Thursday night in 2001, and I remember that Friday night, standing at my table with my wife and baby. I began singing Shalom Aleichem, and I just broke down and started crying. I couldn’t explain it, but I knew that Rabbi Miller taught me what Shabbos was, even though that made no sense — I’d been keeping Shabbos all my life. But he did. He taught  me how to approach Shabbos, what Shabbos really is. I cried for maybe half an hour, feeling the loss keenly. I knew my life had been irrevocably changed by him. And it’s the lashon we hear from other people all the time.”

This explains why the organization is able to recruit so many volunteers. People who have been profoundly affected by Rabbi Miller’s Torah and are passionate about spreading his ideas are happy to take care of distribution — which helps keep the organization’s costs down.

Pinchas puts it baldly. “If this were a company, this would be a $20 million operation. Because it’s Toras Avigdor, with around 350 volunteers involved, to date, it brings the budget down by 90 percent.”

The attendees at that big meeting decided to take the organization to the next level, hiring a proper administration, setting a clear budget, putting up a website, and so on. This was made possible by Mordechai and Chani Chopp, names that have become almost synonymous with Toras Avigdor. Five years later, the numbers are astounding. Toras Avigdor has 80,000 weekly readers around the world, from Brooklyn to Boca to Beit Shemesh, as well as a few locales that are more far flung and exotic, like Taiwan and India.

Not only that, the paper is now printed in five languages: English, Yiddish, French, Spanish, and Hebrew.

It was originally brought to Eretz Yisrael by a talmid of the Mir named Mordechai Steinhardter, who’d seen it in America and brought it to English-speaking communities. As in the States, the paper quickly spread from neighborhood to neighborhood.

“But translating it to Lashon Hakodesh opened it up to a whole new demographic,” Amichai says. “You have Israelis, some of whom have never heard of Rabbi Miller, becoming staunch talmidim.”

Toras Avigdor demonstrates that a parshah booklet is a great way to reach people.

“People need to read something on the parshah anyway,” Amichai says, “and in the Toras Avigdor they get something of genuine quality, for free, in a bekovadig format.”

“People wouldn’t believe the work that goes into each booklet, though,” Pinchas says.

The editorial team is comprised of Amichai, Pinchas, and Rabbi Yaakov Hamburger, a close talmid of Rabbi Miller and his biographer. For each parshah, the trio holds a brainstorming session at which they pick out a few ideas from Rabbi Miller’s mentions of the parshah in his shiurim.

“For each booklet,” Amichai says, “we use four or five primary tapes — which we print in the back for reference. And then we review other tapes too, as many as ten secondary tapes, to get more — a different angle, a more entertaining delivery, a story, even a one-liner.”

Once they have the initial idea, he starts assembling a document. The first draft can run to 100,000 words (each tape is around 20,000). The final product is edited down to just 6,000 and is arranged in three comprehensive parts that flow on from each other.

“The first two or three days are often grueling,” says Amichai, “transcribing the tapes, combing through them. There’s so much work because the talks are not organized, they’re delivered in a free-flow style. In the listening, it doesn’t sound bad. It works, you’re there with him. You’re almost hypnotized by his voice, and you go along with him. On paper, it’s just not coherent. He can be talking about a trait of Avraham Avinu, and then veer into a tangent on nature, and stay on that tangent for a good 20 minutes before coming back to the main point.”

Rabbi Miller never prepared his shiurim. He said he could have one idea in the kitchen, another as he left the house, and yet another as he stood before the crowd. That’s the beauty — and the difficulty.

“But it gets better,” Amichai concedes. “Slowly we whittle down 100,000 words, into something much less pressurizing, more enjoyable — sharpening the product, watching it take shape.”

Amichai spends an entire week of almost full-time work, around 50 hours, writing the devar Torah. Rabbi Hamburger reviews the document at the end of each day. He’s the editor, and he’s ensuring that the words stay true to the spirit of Rabbi Miller.

It’s then over to Pinchas, who spends another 30 hours or so working on it, editing, polishing, extracting.

“It’s authentic Rabbi Miller we want, but in an organized, focused, and engaging format,” he says. “There’s the devar Torah, of course, a practical takeaway, and the Q&A on the back cover. Each edition covers 80 to 100 hours, it’s tremendous…”

From all the divrei Torah of seven years, is there a favorite idea that stands out for them, something they connect with most strongly?

“That’s like asking a parent to pick a favorite child,” Pinchas says. “For me, it’s a blur, it’s what I love, what I work with, day in, day out. In terms of his books, though, maybe it’s Rejoice O Youth, on the tenets of emunah and bitachon. I read it once, right before Shavuos, over the course of a week, and I’d say a different person put the book down at the end of that week than the one who’d opened it up at the beginning.”

Amichai says, “Rabbi Miller is my rebbi… There’s not any one favorite idea, it’s everything together. What I find, though, as I work with his words, is that it’s like an endless sea. I find something that resonates with me, and I can uncover it in so many ways. There’s wisdom, boundless depth. Infinity in the finite number of tapes he left us.”

Back to Life

Readers feel it, timeless, ceaseless wisdom. They’ve had the most wide-ranging feedback, spanning the globe, the gamut from BTs to chassidim, yeshivahleit, girls, teens, elderly.

Often, they’ll get a variation of: It was just what I needed to hear. That’s the Hashgachah that’s apparent in every step of their work.

Then there are the wilder stories.

An 80-year-old woman, a Russian immigrant who lives in Pennsylvania, was utterly unaffiliated but her grandson started sending her Toras Avigdor, and she became an avid reader. Before long, she decided to start lighting Shabbos candles, and, in time, her husband, also in his eighties, went and had a bris.

“Just last Shabbos, I met a Chabad guy I know who was in Taiwan for Pesach,” Pinchas relates. “They needed a tenth guy, and this man was Jewish, though completely irreligious, married to a Taiwanese woman. Before Krias HaTorah, they were schmoozing, and he said just like that: ‘I saw in Toras Avigdor…’

“It’s the religious, the irreligious, and even non-Jews. They had a non-Jew call up to give a donation. He said he was listening to music on Spotify and came across MBD. He really liked his style and songs and kept listening and soon enough Spotify recommended related content, and so he started listening to, of all things, the Toras Avigdor podcast. He wanted to thank us because what he was hearing had completely transformed his marriage.”

Then there’s the negative feedback…

“Some time ago we mentioned the ishah sotah in a booklet, and people complained,” says Pinchas, “Amichai took out 95 percent of what Rabbi Miller said, and then I took out 95 percent of what Amichai left in. So, what?

“We review, we ask, we weigh. In that case, we’d given it to two rabbanim, a talmid of Rabbi Miller’s, and a grandson of his, and they both gave the go-ahead. Listener feedback like that challenges us, it keeps us on our toes.”

But a lot of listener queries are requests to track down previous issues.

“A couple years ago, one of the editions had solid marriage hashkafah, and that’s one we’re asked for a lot,” Amichai says.

There’s the regular weekly devar Torah publication, of course, and three years ago, they tried a Toras Avigdor Junior edition that just snowballed.

“That’s a whole separate operation. We’ve gone digital as well, with the website, the app, weekly videos. It’s evolving, it keeps going places.”

And it keeps getting bigger. People are reaching out to sponsor. There’s now a Partner’s Campaign, in which people can help defray the considerable cost of distributing Rav Miller’s Torah. They’re also sending out “exclusive content” each week for a small monthly fee because not everything is fit to print…

“If you think what we publish is controversial, wait til you see what’s in there,” Rabbi Wolhendler says.

“It’s all part of the response to a thirst,” Amichai says. “It wasn’t like we said, ‘Let’s make Rabbi Miller famous again, let’s bring him back to life.’ But that’s what’s happening.”

“We had no strategy, no planned targets, just a drive to spread the Torah of Rabbi Miller, and crazy siyata d’Shmaya,” Pinchas says, with a glint in his eye. “I think we’ve been fairly successful, though.”

Seven years, 80,000 readers. Fairly. 

You Didn’t Hear His Torah Anywhere Else

By Dr. Meir Wikler

I had the zechus of attending Rav Miller’s historic Thursday night shiur for about two years. This was in the early days, when he gave the shiur at a Sephardic shul a few blocks down from the Mirrer Yeshivah on Ocean Parkway. And he would use Sephardic pronunciation for all words in Lashon Hakodesh, out of respect for his hosts.

At the time, there were fewer than two dozen people in attendance: a few members of the Sephardic synagogue, mostly yeshivah bochurim and some balabatim. My older brother, Rabbi Yosef Wikler, who had preceded me in attending Rav Miller’s shiurim, recommended that I try it one time. And after I did, I was hooked.

One of the things that struck me was the way Rav Miller would close his eyes as he spoke with conviction and passion. To me, the fact that he barely made eye contact with his audience was the essence of his shiurim. It’s all about the content, what I’m saying, was the subtle message, it’s not about me. This was a manifestation of his anivus, his humility; he didn’t encourage people to foster a personal connection with him, but directly with HaKadosh Baruch Hu and His Torah. It was as if he were trying to move out of the way, to all but remove himself and let his words and ideas speak for themselves.

Perhaps that’s why so many who listen to his tapes are so profoundly inspired.

From the get-go, Rabbi Miller strongly encouraged participants to record his shiurim. This was around 1973, when recording was a whole gesheft, with tape recorders the size of two tissue boxes (an improvement, mind you from the reel-to-reel recorders, which were the size of a small suitcase), and cassette tapes that had to be turned over after 45 minutes.

Rav Miller accommodated that in his shiur, pausing at the 45-minute mark, when the sound was heard of clanking and clicking as cassettes were removed from recorders and flipped over to the other side. Each shiur was recorded, and copies on cassettes were offered for sale at the end of each week’s shiur.

The shul had an ezras nashim and some women would also attend. When I was dating my wife, I once took her to the shiur as part of a date. Hotel lobbies weren’t common dating venues at the time, and I was an avel then and had limited options. Rabbi Miller’s Torah meant so much to me that I wanted to see her reaction to his hashkafah.

It was a unique hashkafah; what you heard from him, you didn’t hear anywhere else. Rabbi Miller ended off each shiur by inviting questions — on the subject of the shiur, or even random questions.

“It’s okay to ask questions just to stump me,” he’d say. And those Q&As gave rise to a proliferation of Torah thought and ideas.

I purchased many of his tapes and listened to them on my car’s tape deck. I listened to each shiur many times, and I understood it on a whole different level every time. One of his main themes was gadlus habriah: to get close to Hashem by appreciating His blessings — the constant daily ones — and to gain happiness from the things we tend to take for granted.

Many of his teachings remain etched in my mind, even after all these years. For example, he once asked: When Dovid Hamelech said, “kosi revayah” (Tehillim 23:5), what cup was he talking about? Then he answered with another pasuk, “Kos yeshuos esa” (Tehillim 116:13): It was the cup of salvation. But how, he asked, could Dovid Hamelech say his cup of salvation was overflowing, when he had suffered so much throughout his life, with his father-in-law trying to kill him and his own son leading a revolt to usurp the throne? Then he answered with a third pasuk, “Zecher rav tuv’cha yabi’u” (Tehillim 145:7). Dovid Hamelech never forgot a single favor Hashem did for him, so he was forever grateful.

Years later, when my son, Yeshaya, was a yeshivah bochur, he said to me, “Ta, I’m living in Brooklyn, minutes away from this adam gadol, and I haven’t even seen him once. We should go to one of his shiurim.”

For a while, it didn’t work out, as Yeshaya was away at yeshivah throughout the year. And then he was home one Thursday night during bein hazmanim, and we made it to Rav Miller’s shiur.

By 2001, the shiur was in his own shul, and it was packed to the gills. One had to arrive early to get a seat, and by the time the shiur started, there was barely any standing room. Gone were the tape recorders of the past; by then, the shiur was being recorded professionally, with digital handheld voice recorders.

I still remember what he said at that shiur. Never concerned about being controversial or direct, Rav Miller spoke about the negative influence of newspapers, even frum newspapers. How when European Jewry began to print frum newspapers in Yiddish, that began the weakening of the distinction between Torah Jews and secular people. It was a weakening in the havdalah, the separation between Yisrael and the amim, and Jews always have to be careful to maintain that separation.

That Thursday night shiur turned out to be the very last that Rav Miller delivered, just a few days before he was niftar. My son had finally made it to see Rav Miller.

Today, when I read the Toras Avidgor pamphlets, which are dedicated to disseminating Rav Miller’s Torah thoughts, I can still hear his deep baritone voice and passionate inflections through the printed page. I read the Toras Avigdor on the parshas hashavua each week, and it greatly enhances and elevates my Shabbos.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 1010)

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