Challenging our laziness, rebelliousness, impatience, and argumentativeness
Prompt and Comprehensive
Doing something with Zereezut is often translated or interpreted as fast. My teacher told me that’s incorrect. It means promptly. To hurry to do something as soon as that action is proper. When there is a danger to a limb or life, we jump into action without any detour. Any ritual or activity that normally would be in order is superseded by such an emergency.
Zereezut also implies completeness, doing the Commandments constantly, all of them, reliably dedicated to all their details.
To pray with Zereezut then means at the earliest times, every time, devoted to all the details, and not hastily.
There could be reasons to delay our actions. We could decide to buy Arba’ Meeneem last minute to get a more beautiful set for a price we can afford. But we need to watch it that postponement doesn’t result in annulment.
Postponing till the last minute to do what we are commanded to do is fine for the Letter of the Law but it is imperfect. It lacks Zereezut. Delaying until the last minute is a mild form of rebellion to assert our autonomy. It can also express resentment and disgust with this life. When we take upon ourselves baseless happiness, basic eagerness will follow more easily.
Patient and Calm
But not waiting until the proper time has arrived is not correct either. Blowing the shofar already on Tisha beAv, shows you’re crazy, not a saint. Bringing in the Havdalah candle before the end of Shabbat shows disrespect for the Shabbat’s concluding minutes and is a real sin (Muktze).
When we get an Aliyah to the Torah reading, we take the shortest path to the Bimah to show our eagerness. But we don’t get up there while the previous co-reader is not finished yet. There is no place for impatience.
But, Savlanut is not just having patience. It also implies calmness, a lack of stress. You know that everything is OK, so you approach everything calmly.
So, we don’t don our Talleet before we end the Blessing over it. We don’t cut the Challah in two before we finished the Blessing over it.
We don’t rush our loved ones for a lack patience. We sometimes listen to them as if we have all the time in the world and if there is nothing more important in the whole world for us to do—which is easily true. (When our kids always say ‘but,’ we tell them we must leave now when they still have plenty of time to object. When we must hurry them, we tell them we are sorry, promise them to listen to them later, and then apologize too.)
When we say Amen to a formal, proper Blessing before the last Letter was said, the punishment is that the end of our lives will be hastened too.
When we say Amen to a formal Blessing too late, it becomes orphaned, and the punishment is that our kids and students become orphans faster.
When we say Amen to a proper, formal Blessing too loudly, too softly, or not at all, we are punished for disagreeing with the text of the Blessing.
When a Chazzan goes on to say the next Blessing without waiting for the community to respond with Amen, no one should respond Amen. Amen is our medicine against disagreeing with everyone and everything. You can’t shout a proper Amen in disagreement.
But, I think, that when you hear someone make a proper Blessing but in a sad voice, you can connect to their deepest Soul and say with its intention a happy Amen in agreement with its positive mindset.
Judaism is a very demanding lifestyle. Not difficult or impossible, Moses tells us, but labor-some yes. And a heavy responsibility. But, meant to have us develop a perfect character, including being industrious and patient.
When we are looking for a partner, the quality we should prioritize is character. Someone with fine traits, committed to perfecting them.