Beit Midrash

  • Jewish Laws and Thoughts
  • Pathways in Personality Development
To dedicate this lesson

The Torah study is dedicatedto the full recovery of

Dvorah bat Miriam

8. Self Actualization and Freedom from Indulgence

A Jew should see himself as part of God's own "special-unit" with special tasks which are full of challenge and bring satisfaction.


Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed

Tishrey 5762
Opposite zerizut - alacrity in the fulfillment of mitzvoth and good deeds - stand such qualities as laziness, fondness for leisure, and passion for indulgence and delicacy. The sort of individual who loves the comfort of unrestrained sleeping and freedom from obligation no doubt finds it difficult to get up early in the morning for Tefillah (prayer) and work. One who has become accustomed to this sort of lifestyle is no longer master over himself. Even were he to desire to get up early in the morning, he would find it difficult to do so, for his will power has been bound by the cords of habit. The routine of sleeping comfortably, without any burden whatsoever, has become like second nature for him, from which it is difficult to free oneself.

One who is fond of eating the choicest foods with great indulgence, assigning to this practice one's full attention and taking care that each meal be flawless, will certainly not find it easy to shorten his lunch for the sake of minchah (afternoon prayer), or for the sake of fulfilling a mitzvah, studying Torah, or practicing kindness towards others. One whose goal is to improve and to realize himself, to advance, to perfect himself and reach his full potential, an idealist who strives to contribute and to help, and to act for the improvement of the world, must do away with tendencies which prevent the fulfillment of his goals. He has to free himself from unnecessary lavishness, from overindulgence in sleep, being overoccupied with food and other pastimes which simply waste time. Rather, he should develop, by way of habit, the attribute of zerizut.

This is the purpose of army exercises - to accustom the soldier to get up early, to act quickly, make do with little sleep, to hurry to meals, not to linger, not to waste time on unimportant things, rather, to be ready and prepared to endure wartime demands. The military drills of special units develop the faculties of endurance, will power, courage, agility, and dexterity.

In this very same spirit the Rabbis taught: "Such is the way of the Torah, eat bread with water, and drink measured water, sleep on the floor, and labor over the Torah. Don't be spoiled, make do with little, these are the necessary conditions for a person who wishes to do the will of God, and to worship him fullheartedly.

It is well known that despite the difficult conditions, despite the incredible exertion demanded of soldiers in special units and in the various commando squads, there is still great desire amongst soldiers to join these units, for the satisfaction one receives as part of them is worth the effort. Understanding the importance of the goal of the soldiers in these special units, justifies the sacrifices demanded of them.

And so it ought to be regarding all of man's endeavors. A Jew should see himself as part of God's own "special-unit" with special tasks which are full of challenge and bring satisfaction. Every mitzvah and every good deed, contains great and weighty significance. Therefore, all effort and all sacrifice for the sake of the service of God is worth it. No effort is too much, no exertion too great. And in order to meet the challenge one must develop the appropriate faculties: zerizut, will power, courage, and agility. "Be bold as a leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a deer, and strong as a lion, to do the will of your Father in heaven."
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