Factors Which Detract from Zeal

Path of the Just

Chapter Nine

In this weeks lecture from the Path of the just we will discover that THE which detract from Zeal are those which promote laziness. The greatest of these is the desire for bodily repose – aversion to exertion – and the love of pleasures to their very limits. There is no question that a person laboring under the above deterrent will find Divine service a great burden. For one who wishes to take his meal with relaxation and repose, and to sleep without being disturbed and to walk only at a leisurely pace, and so forth – such a person will find it extremely difficult to arise for morning services or to curtail his dinner so as to pray the afternoon service before nightfall or to go out to perform a mitzvah if the time does not suit him. How much more reluctant will he be to rush himself for a mitzvah or for Torah study! One who habituates himself to these practices is not his own master to do the opposite of these things when he so desires, for his will is bound with the bonds of habit, which becomes second nature to him. A person must realize that he is not in this world for repose, but for labor and exertion. He should conduct himself according to the manner of laborers who work for hire (as it is said [Eruvin 65a], “We are day-laborers”) and according to the manner of soldiers in the battle-line, who eat in haste, sleep only at irregular intervals and are always poised for attack. In relation to this it is said (Job 5:7), “A man is born to labor.” If one accustoms himself to this approach, he will certainly find Divine service easy, for then he will not be lacking the proper attitude or preparation for it. Our Sages of blessed memory said along the same lines (Avoth 6.4), “This is the way of Torah – eat bread with salt, drink water by measure and sleep upon the ground.” This regimen constitutes the epitome of removal from comforts and pleasures.

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