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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Parshas Tzav –  JUST DO IT!

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By: Chaya Sora Jungreis-Gertzulin

Did morning ever come too early, and you gave yourself “just five more minutes”? You close your eyes… and somehow five minutes turns into thirty.

Maybe you had a friend, an acquaintance, who was feeling under the weather. You make a mental note to call tomorrow. But tomorrow never happens. Nor does the next day. Life gets busy. And then, your friend feels better. You missed out on the opportunity to do bikur cholim.

How often does that little voice inside us say, you can do it later, there’s always tomorrow… only to leave us with missed opportunities.

This week’s parsha, Tzav, opens with HaShem instructing Moshe “Tzav es Aaron, Command Aaron”. Not “speak to”, or “tell Aaron”, but “tzav, command”. Rashi comments that tzav is “lashon zerizus”, an expression denoting urgency, alacrity, and a spirit of enthusiasm. Rashi continues with a powerful message to us, “mi’yad u’l’doros, for now and for future generations.” A message for all time. To be both passionate and prompt about our adherence to mitzvos.

We are the children of Avrohom Avinu. We carry his spiritual DNA. The Torah tells us that Avrohom was a man of zerizus. When the three angels appeared to Avrohom in the guise of nomadic travelers, he ran to greet them. “V’yorotz likrosam, He ran towards them.” It was an extremely hot day. Avrohom was elderly and recuperating from his bris. Despite all this, Avrohom ran to do the mitzva of hachnossas orchim, welcoming guests. He felt the urgency to do the mitzva and was determined not to lose the opportunity.

We also find, that when Avrohom was readying himself to go with Yitzchak to the Akeidah, the Chumash tells us “Vayashkeim Avrohom baboker, And Avrohom rose early in the morning”. No hitting the snooze button, no turning over for some extra shut-eye, but jumping out of bed to get going to do the mitzva.

Avrohom infused himself with the midah, the trait of zerizus. A strong desire to follow HaShem’s words with alacrity.

Oftentimes, I am asked how did my mother a”h accomplish so much. Mother, grandmother, shul rebbetzin, teacher, world-wide speaker, author, columnist, shadchan, and mentor. Always available for family and klal.

My answer is always the same. Everything she did was with zerizus, coupled with enthusiasm. If there was something that needed to be done, it was done now. Procrastination was not part of her vocabulary.

I remember my mother raising us children with the message of “Kumu l’avodas haBoray, Get up to do the work of HaShem.” What a wonderful way to be awakened! Wake up to accomplish your tafkid, your life mission.

In the biography of my mother, The Rebbetzin, by Rabbi Nachman Seltzer, he relates a story from Jennifer Gross:

“My husband and I were honored at one of the Hineni dinners. Since we were the honorees that evening, many of my friends were in attendance, and I had gone on and on about the Rebbetzin’s incredible speaking abilities and how they were about to hear the speech of their lives.

I was somewhat taken aback, however, when the Rebbetzin rose and took her place at the podium. Because for whatever reason, her speech that night was about the rooster and its greatness! At that point in time, I was still not familiar with the blessing we say in morning prayers — “Asher nasan lasechvi vinah, Who gives understanding to the rooster” — and I couldn’t fathom why the Rebbetzin had chosen this topic as the theme of her speech.

“It is very important to be like a rooster,” she said, in her charismatic way, as my friends stared at her blankly, not comprehending why it was so important to be like a rooster, of all things.

The Rebbetzin went on.

“The rooster knows that he has to wake up every morning to crow like he’s supposed to. You will never see the rooster waking up and asking himself, ‘Am I too tired to crow right now?’ He’ll never say, ‘You know something, I’m just not in the mood to crow today!’

“The rooster does what the rooster is supposed to do, and that’s how a Jew is supposed to live his life!

“You don’t wake up and say, ‘I’m not in the mood to keep kosher’ — we keep kosher! We don’t wake up and question the Sabbath or all the other things we do that make us different from everybody else!”

Not being familiar with the blessing she was referring to, I was confused and found myself asking, “What’s with the rooster? I don’t understand why the Rebbetzin is making such a big deal about roosters!”

It was pretty ironic: I was being honored at the dinner, yet had no real idea of what the Rebbetzin was talking about!

But the speech was the speech.

When I finally learned the blessing of the rooster, I suddenly realized what an important message the Rebbetzin had delivered at the dinner — a message I had missed at the time, and only grasped later on — that Jews have to be the best roosters they can possibly be, every single day of their lives!

In my mind, the Rebbetzin’s speech at the dinner ended up ranking among the most important lessons I ever learned! We are Jews, and as Jews, we need to be the best roosters in the world! When I recite the morning blessings these days, I remember the Rebbetzin and how there are no excuses. Basically, I remember the lesson of the rooster and how it changed my life.”

I find that each time I turn to Tehillim, the words of Dovid HaMelech resonate with me. “Chashti v’lo his’ma’hemoti, I hurried, I did not delay.” (Tehillim 119:60) The message of zerizus, alacrity, is one that our sages have transmitted to us throughout the ages.

Pirkei Avos teaches “V’im lo achshav, eimasai, If not now, when.” Rabbi Moshe Lieber shares a story about Rav Dov Ber of Radoshitz. When traveling, he would awaken fellow lodgers by saying, “Wake up my brothers, a guest you have never seen has arrived. Once he leaves, you will never see him again.”

“Who is the guest”, they would ask. Rav Dov Ber answered, “Today.”

Tzav. A command to live one’s life with zerizus. To act quickly, and not squander the gift of time. And, like the rooster who never tarries, be ready to do Avodas HaShem and value today.

As the Nike slogan reminds us: JUST DO IT!

Shabbat Shalom!

Chaya Sora

Chaya Sora can be reached at [email protected]

This article was written L’zecher Nishmas/In Memory Of HaRav Meshulem ben HaRav Osher Anshil HaLevi, zt”l and Rebbetzin Esther bas HaRav Avraham HaLevi, zt”l

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