Then they called Rebekah and said to her, "Will you go with this man?" And she said, "I will go." Genesis 24:58
One thing I’ve observed about the male psyche in my years of counseling married couples is a certain resistance to interruptions, however reasonable and appropriate, including (or should I say especially?) interruptions from one’s wife. Even a male like me, working on his middot and looking for opportunities to serve, to express honor, to show gratitude, can get grumpy when interrupted by an unexpected request. But I’ve also learned a technique that I’ve shared with quite a few frustrated wives; make your request, smile through the initial curmudgeonly push back, and leave it in your husband’s lap. He’ll brew on it a while and, if you leave him alone, will often show up twenty or thirty minutes later ready to do what you asked.
Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her in dance with timbrels.
And Miriam chanted for them:Sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously;
Horse and driver He has hurled into the sea. (Exodus 15:20–21)
When Miriam leads the women of Israel at the parting of the sea in praising Hashem with song and dance, she is making her second appearance in the Exodus story. In her first scene, Miriam is instrumental in rescuing the baby Moses after his parents are forced to set him adrift on the waters of the Nile. She has the courage to watch over her brother’s journey in his tiny ark, and the chutzpah to approach the daughter of Pharaoh and suggest a plan that saves his life. Miriam’s act of saving Moses is essential to the entire drama that follows, but throughout this scene she’s just called “his sister” or “the girl” (Ex. 2:4, 7–9).
“Enthusiasm,” for most of its history as an English word, has had a mixed connotation. The word literally means “being possessed by a god” and by the 18th century had come to mean “ill-regulated religious emotion or speculation.” The Oxford Universal Dictionary gives a 19th century example: “Everywhere the history of religion betrays a tendency to enthusiasm.”
Over the few years of my life, I have encountered many people who were enthusiastic over one thing or another. Sometimes they seemed too excited over whatever it was than I thought was necessary for that thing.
It’s hard to imagine a more enthusiastic response to God than the one commanded in the Shema: “You shall love Hashem your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
Young children tend to be the most enthusiastic people…ever. With regards to energy, they are also quite well off. Whether the energy fuels the enthusiasm or vice-versa is hard to tell but one thing is for sure, the two are inseparable. A part of it has to do with the fact that life is significantly “newer” for children than adults.
I’m laid back, or so I’ve been told. Years ago I gave a message that seemed particularly compelling to me and I thought I delivered with unusual excitement and passion. Afterwards someone came up to me and said, “I really like your teaching; your style is so laid back!” So, the middah of zerizut presents a particular challenge: not just doing the right thing but doing it with zeal.
Around the time I entered high school I discovered that it was not “cool” to be enthusiastic. As a matter of fact, phrases like “be cool” and “that’s chill” reflected the tendency towards austere distance from the world. Looking back I realize the whole attitude was pretentious and fear driven. The idea was that the more distant you are from things, the less likely they will be able to hurt you; then you can become practically invincible. Of course, it never really worked. This is why the ways of God will never really smack of the kind of “cool” that characterized my adolescence (as well as others). God does not really give us the permission to be distant from him or his world. Yeshua’s example drives this point home.