Kenneth Cohen


The many books that attempt to teach proper ethics and morality, use the word, זריזות, “alacrity,” as an important concept to incorporate into our personality. This refers to the enthusiasm we are supposed to adopt in the performance of mitzvot.

The Torah is divided into 365 negative commandments and 248 positive commandments. The Messillat Yesharim writes that we use זהירות, taking precautions, in order not to violate these negative commandments. But we must use זריזות in the fulfillment of the positive commandments.

Often we find people who feel satisfied that they don’t hurt anyone, and they do not actively violate that which the Torah forbids. They can sit back and relax, and not do much at all. Their lives are boring and lacking motivation.

The Book of Psalms recommends that we, “turn away from evil, and do good.” The “do good” is a reference to our actively and enthusiastically do the positive Mitzvot. But it is more than this. This should also reflect how we approach life. We are to treat every day as special. And we need to see what good we might accomplish each day.

The Rabbis speak of individuals who at age 25, act like they are 85. And there are 85 year olds who have the excitement and vitality of a 25 year old.

Observing the Torah is extremely important. But “how” we observe it, might even be more important. Enthusiasm, alacrity, and זריזות, are the recommended method in fulfilling G-d’s word.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at