In Jewish life there is a great appreciation for a character trait known as z’reezut, which is often translated as zealousness. The word z’reezut actually comes from the root zayin-reish-zayin, which is associated with the concept of haste.
Acting with z’reezut does not mean that one should speed through one’s day but, rather, that when a person has the opportunity to perform a mitzvah, it should be done with deliberate speed. This idea applies to activities like arriving early to synagogue services as well as responding to unexpected opportunities, like helping provide meals for community members in need.
In a culture where z’reezut is a positive character trait, what can be said about a day designated for sauntering, walking slowly in a casual manner? World Sauntering Day (June 19) may imply a call to behave in a lazy manner, but, in fact, it was meant by its creator, W.T. Rabe, to be a way to encourage people to slow down and appreciate the world.
Jewish living is about balance. One needs to know the appropriate time for z’reezut and the appropriate time for “sauntering.” Indeed, one does not have to exclude the other. Slowing down allows one to be more aware of others, which may provide a chance to discover new mitzvah opportunities (which one can then hurry to take care of).
As interesting as it may be that there exists such a thing as World Sauntering Day, Judaism has an inner mechanism for slowing down and appreciating the world. Once a week, Shabbat provides Jews with an “oasis of time” to truly slow down. In fact, that day is so significant that the preparations for it are often done with z’reezut.
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