In Jewish life there is great admiration 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 and speed.

Acting with z’reezut does not mean that an individual should rush through the 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 to 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, tomorrow, June 19th, 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, “smell the roses,” as they say.

Jewish living is about balance. A person needs to know the appropriate time for z’reezut and the appropriate time for “sauntering.” Indeed, an individual does not have to exclude either. Slowing down allows a person to be more aware of others, which may provide a chance to discover new mitzvah opportunities.

As interesting as it may be that there exists such a thing as World Sauntering Day, Judaism has a built-in 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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