Gung-Ho Enthusiasm


Dear Rabbi, my question is about enthusiasm. My friend is really gung-ho about many things and that usually doesn’t bother me. I was just wondering how Judaism views an enthusiastic attitude. Thank you for your insights.



  1. It’s great! Except when it’s not.

    Just as no two people look alike, no two people share the same character traits. Examples of these personality traits (and their opposites) are generosity and stinginess, haughtiness and humility, enthusiasm and serenity.

    All traits can be measured as a point on a spectrum. For example, one can have a generosity trait of three, complemented by a stingy trait of seven. We are taught that the ideal path in life is to be in the middle of the spectrum in all our traits, except for anger and haughtiness where we should aim for the lowest possible score, and rate high in calmness and humility.

    Enthusiasm is one of the many “normal” traits where one should try to maintain a proper balance to be in the middle of the spectrum of the human disposition chart and aim for the middle-of-the-road in his behavior.
    Although enthusiasm can be a very helpful trait when used in the correct time in the correct way, it can also lead to negative and undesirable results. For example, our Talmudic Sages teach, “Who is wise? One who sees the outcome.”. Too much enthusiasm can diminish one’s objectivity and allow a bias towards doing something to cloud one’s normally clear and straight judgment.

    I would summarize by saying that enthusiasm is important and appropriate when it is a refined part of one’s personality. One should first weigh all options from all angles and make the best decision in each case. Enthusiasm can help do this by adding creative energy and motivation. And once the decision is made, one can be enthusiastic about success. But every step of the process should be tempered and accompanied with the wisdom of objectivity and level-headedness.

    Best wishes from the Team