Path of the Just: The Trait of Zeal

AFTER WATCHFULNESS comes the trait of zeal, Watchfulness pertaining to the negative commandments and Zeal to the positive, in accordance with the idea of “Depart from evil and do good(Psalms 34:15).” “Zeal,” as the name implies, signifies alacrity in the pursuit and fulfillment of mitzvoth. As expressed by our Sages of blessed memory (Pesachim 4a), “The zealous advance themselves towards mitzvoth.” That is, just as it requires great intelligence and much foresight to save oneself from the snares of the evil inclination and to escape from evil so that it does not come to rule us and intrude itself into our deeds, so does it require great intelligence and foresight to take hold of mitzvoth, to acquire them for ourselves, and not to lose them. For just as the evil inclination attempts, with the devices at its command, to cast a man into the nets of sin, so does it seek to prevent him from performing mitzvoth, and to leave Him devoid of them. If a man weakens and is lazy and does not strengthen himself to pursue mitzvoth and to hold onto them, he will certainly lack them.

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