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Beit Midrash Jewish Laws and Thoughts Pathways in Personality Development

Chapter

7. Starting and Maintaining "Zerizut"

It is possible to change and it is possible to overcome weaknesses. It is possible to develop the quality of "zerizut" and to overcome the tendency to laziness.
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Dvorah bat Miriam
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The quality of zerizut - alacrity in the fulfillment of one's obligations - may be said to take two different forms. The first, is the sort of zerizut which is necessary even before beginning to carry out the desired act. When it initially occurs to an individual to do a good deed, a mitzvah, he mustn't delay, rather he should hurry to do it immediately. "Those who posses zerizut," tell us the sages, "race to fulfill the commandments," "A person should always hurry to do mitzvoth - even on Shabbat (when one is commanded to rest)," and "When a mitzvah presents itself - don't put it off."
Pathways in Personality Development
Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed
6 - 6. "Zerizut" - Its Practical Application
7 - 7. Starting and Maintaining "Zerizut"
8 - 8. Self Actualization and Freedom from Indulgence
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The second form of zerizut is that which is employed after one has begun to perform a mitzvah. One must not to stop in mid stream, rather he should continue to hurry and finish the good deed. With regards to this the sages said, "A mitzvah is judged only upon its completion."

Some of us possess one aspect of zerizut, yet lack the other. There are those who always encounter difficulty when it comes to starting a mitzvah, and before even beginning the mitzvah, stall for time, putting it off again and again. Yet once they've begun it's easy for them to continue, and they absorb themselves in the act completely, continuing with it until it is complete. One example of this might be in study, say home work, it's difficult to begin, yet once one has begun it's easy to continue.

On the other hand, there are those with the opposite tendency. It is easy for them to begin to study, to begin a good deed, yet they do not have the patience to continue. They always tire out quickly, stopping in the middle, diverting their attention, never managing to carry something through, from beginning to end, to its completion,. They lack diligence and concentration.

In addition, there are those who find everything difficult. It's difficult for them to begin -and they therefore always put off beginning; and then, even once they've begun, it's difficult for them to continue their task till its completion.

A person must become familiar with his qualities, to recognize his strengths and his weaknesses, in order that he be able to strengthen himself, to strengthen his positive qualities and to fix his weaknesses. It is possible to change and it is possible to overcome weaknesses. It is possible to develop the quality of zerizut and to overcome the tendency to laziness. This is accomplished by making a firm decision to change and through practice - practicing to do good deeds with zerizut, with speed, and with alacrity. As it says concerning Abraham when guests came to him, "And Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said, 'Hurry! Three measures of the finest flour! Knead it and make rolls.' Abraham ran to the cattle, and chose a tender, good calf. He gave it to a young man who rushed to prepare it." Everything was done with zerizut, alacrity and speed, to fulfill the mitzvah of welcoming guests in its entirety. Abraham hurried and urged the others to hurry as well.

Rivka too, when Abraham's servant Eliezer requested of her, "Please, let me sip a little water from your jug... she quickly lowered her jug to her hand and gave him a drink...she quickly emptied her jug into the trough and ran to the well again to draw water." She did everything quickly, hurriedly.

When a person is excited about something and is happy to do it, he does it with zerizut, speedily, without pausing for a moment. Excitement leads to zerizut. The opposite is true as well; zerizut can cause a person to become excited. When a person carries out his actions quickly, with zerizut, it awakens in him excitement and inner burning, and as a result of this outer alacrity, one's inner will and desire increase.
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