Re'eh - Diligence over Laziness

Because of the winter, a lazy man does not plow; he will seek in harvest, and there will be nothing.
 מֵחֹרֶף עָצֵל לֹא יַחֲרשׁ יְשָׁאַל וְשָׁאַל בַּקָּצִיר וָאָיִן
Mishlei 20:4
Rabbeinu Behaye captures the spirit of each week's parshah with a verse from Mishlei, preparing us for the fundamental ideas to be discussed in the parshah.
He explains how  the author of Mishlei, Shlomo HaMelech, sought to convey many important principles and useful life lessons, but some of the most important concepts are "זריזות" (diligence) and "עצל" (laziness).
Says the Rabbeinu Behaye, we can see these concepts across all aspects of life: running a home, caring for our bodies, spiritual matters, and Torah.

Running a Home
In taking care of our homes, things break down. A hole can appear in the roof. If you take care of it quickly, with ‘zrizut’ - diligence, it can be a relatively minor repair and small expense. But if out of laziness, you leave this and don't take care of it, then this can grow into a major project and become very expensive.

Caring for the Body
With our bodies, when we are diligent and provide sustenance and ensure to give the proper care to our bodies, then we can remain healthy and fit. However where we are indifferent and lazy about our health and the attending to the state of our bodies - even seeming to rely on miracles for daily sustenance - our health will deteriorate.

Spiritual Matters
When we find a particular characteristic that we want to eliminate or change, we can take action immediately and the process of change will be relatively minor and easy. But when we are lazy and let this behavior grow and develop and form into a habit, then it becomes a major undertaking to try and change course and make serious changes in our behavior.

So also with Torah study, mitzvot and good deeds. When we are lazy about Torah study, mitzvot and good deeds in this world, then what will our souls be rewarded with in the next world?

That is the essence of the verse from Mishlei "Because of the winter, a lazy man does not plow; he will seek in harvest, and there will be nothing."

That is to say, the lazy one does not push oneself to do what can be done at the time. The metaphor suggests that all of us are lazy in something, whether this be working the land as the verse expresses. The lazy man sits idle in the winter when this is the time for plowing.

This world is that winter time.
The world to come is the harvest time, the summer time.
In Avodah Zorah (3A), Chazal makes a similar comparison:
"he who took trouble [to prepare] on the eve of the Sabbath can eat on the sabbath, but he who has not troubled on the eve of the Sabbath, what shall he eat on the Sabbath?"
מי שטרח בערב שבת יאכל בשבת מי שלא טרח בערב שבת מהיכן יאכל בשבת

Diligence and Laziness
In Mishlei, Shlomo Hamelech is constantly trying to impart upon us to distance ourselves from laziness, and to become closer to the characteristic of diligence. As he says, "Go to the ant, lazy one; see her ways and become wise, for she has no chief, overseer, or ruler;  yet she prepares her bread in the summer; she gathers her food in the harvest." (Mishlei 6:6-8)

That is to say, even though the ant is one of the most insignificant creations, we can learn a wise lesson from the ant’s behavior for how it gathers at one time to be ready to eat at another.

Mishlei further elaborates on laziness.
The lazy man says, "There is a middle-sized lion on the road, a mature lion is between the streets.
As a door turns on its hinge so does a lazy man on his bed.
The lazy man buries his hand in the cauldron; it wearies him to bring it back to his mouth.
A lazy man in his own eyes is wiser than seven men who give advice.
Mishlei 26:13-16
Blessings and Curses
With the character trait of diligence - zrizut, we can buy a share in this world, and with laziness we can lose it.  So also, with diligence, we can get a share in the world to come, and with laziness we can lose it. With diligence, we can fulfill mitzvot and thus receive life, goodness, and blessing. Yet from laziness, comes evil and curses and death.

Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse.
רְאֵה אָנֹכִי נֹתֵן לִפְנֵיכֶם הַיּוֹם בְּרָכָה וּקְלָלָה
Devarim 11:26

We see how this verse in Mishlei captures the essence of this week's parshah, and how diligence matches the blessing and laziness the curse. Everything is ultimately in our hands to choose to do good or bad. Blessings will come with good behavior and curses will come from bad.

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