To complete nearly any task necessitates a fair amount of awareness. To play a game one needs to be aware of its rules. To walk across the street unharmed one must be aware of the traffic conditions. These things also require focus. Yet it seems that the more one focuses on one particular thing, the less aware that same person can become concerning everything else.
The act of giving is a relatively simple thing. When you give you are simply transferring something that was once yours to someone else. It is entirely possible to give angrily, happily, begrudgingly, indifferently, or thoughtfully. Generosity, on the other hand is a different matter. Generosity has a component of mindfulness and “heartfulness” that goes beyond the physical act of giving.
“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.”
During the month of Elul and throughout the Days of Awe, our tradition recommends reading Psalm 27 twice each day. In this Psalm, David stirs us up to hope, courage, bold confidence in HaShem, and one other trait that is especially relevant for the High Holy Days, and for the middah of simplicity as well. “One thing,” says David, “have I asked of Hashem, and that will I seek: that I may dwell in the House of Hashem all the days of my life” (Ps. 27:4a).
“All your actions and possessions should be orderly – each and every one in a set place and set time. Let your thoughts always be free to deal with that which lies ahead of you.” – Rabbi M.M. Lefin of Satanov, Cheshbon Hanefesh
One of the high points of the traditional morning prayers comes right at the beginning. As the worshiper concludes putting on the tefillin, he wraps the leather strap around the middle finger three times, reciting the words of Hosea 2:19–20.
For the Lord will comfort Zion, He will comfort all its ruins, and He will make its desert like a paradise and its wasteland like the garden of the Lord; joy and happiness shall be found therein, thanksgiving and a voice of song. -- Isaiah 51:3