Avraham serves as a powerful example of enthusiasm, but for different reasons that we might first think. Many of us have read the story of how Avraham ran out to receive his guests and bring them into his home. Rashi, quoting the midrash, points out that before running out to the meet these guests, he was in the middle of a visit with God. Rabbi Simcha Ziv, a 19th C. Jewish ethicist, highlights the remarkable nature of this act. Here was Avraham in the presence of God, basking in the Divine presence when he stops and in effect says “Hang on, God, I must go and be of service to these travellers.” This is the enthusiasm that inspires. It is the enthusiasm that is ready to put aside individual enjoyment, even of Divine nature, for the opportunity to be of benefit to others.
It is not say that one should not take time for themselves. Regular time alone for meditation or individual enjoyment is healthy, but zerizut asks us to be prepared to step away from it with joy when we are presented with the chance to of benefit others and further, we can look forward to these opportunities. In the end, doing so brings a deeper and more meaningful joy. The famous psychiatrist, neurologist and Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl, sums up the essence of zerizut brilliantly, “The more one forgets himself– by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love– the more human he is, and the more he actualizes himself”.
מחשבה/Machshava (think about it)- This week on your way to work, think about it as if you are going to a retreat. Consider your time at your job as a great opportunity to be helpful with speech, mind or body.
מעשה/Ma’aseh (try it) – Each time someone asks for your assistance or interrupts a task that you can handle at a different time, respond with “b’simcha!” or “with joy!” and allow yourself to feel joy from helping.