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The Sabbath (1951)

by Abraham Joshua Heschel

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1,3281410,907 (4.27)2
Elegant, passionate, and filled with the love of God's creation, Abraham Joshua Heschel's The Sabbath has been hailed as a classic of Jewish spirituality ever since its original publication - and has been read by thousands of people seeking meaning in modern life. In this brief yet profound meditation on the meaning of the Seventh Day, Heschel, one of the most widely respected religious leaders of the twentieth century, introduced the influential idea of an 'architecture of holiness" that appears not in space but in time. Judaism, he argues, is a religion of time: it finds meaning not in space and the materials things that fill it but in time and the eternity that imbues it, so that 'the Sabbaths are our greatcatherdrals.'… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Considering the book's reputation, I expected a lot more. The prose was long winded and sometimes the author stated something that doesn't really make sense, logically, but presented it as being the logical conclusion of his argument. It took me years to finish it because I kept falling asleep. ( )
  SGTCat | Feb 25, 2021 |
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. Genesis 2:1-3 NRSV

Considered a classic of Jewish spirituality, The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man is an elegant and beautifully-written treatise seeking to renew a sanctification of time. Rabbi Heschel distinguishes between space and time, the former within the realm of man, the latter lies within the realm of God.

This theological study possessed so many "aha" moments, I found myself frequently highlighting the various arguments. Not surprising, I discerned a number of connections with our Christian theology. ( )
  John_Warner | Dec 11, 2020 |
The prologue and epilogue are LOADED. Everything in between is also pretty good. Definitely interesting perspectives, there are truths that I can gleam for my own life. This book also helped me understand how sabbath became an object of worship for some people. ( )
  Eddie_Long | Nov 2, 2020 |
I've intended to read this book for years, but I didn't expect it to be what it is: Jewish philosophy. It's not a practical book on practicing Sabbath, but meditations on the Sabbath by one who has experienced it. It has some strong insights, and I think it might merit a reread down the line, but I didn't love it. ( )
  nicholasjjordan | Nov 13, 2019 |
This is a short, rather interesting reflection on the institution of the Sabbath, as in "remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy". It was written by a Jewish scholar, so is specifically related to the Sabbath as celebrated by Jewish people. But, it has some interesting ideas and concepts that people of other faiths might find helpful as they try to understand and relate to their Creator.

The lives of men, according to Heschel, are primarily lived on a structural (physical) plane, i.e. we build things, we manage things, we fix things, we sew and reap crops, we write/plan/calculate, and so forth. All we create, even our mightiest structures, e.g. the pyramids, or our most elevated ideas, eventually decay back to nothingness. Time is different. Time is eternal. The structural is consumed by time, but time never changes, it just goes on...eternally. Something like that.

So, although we work in the structural world for six days of the week, we can escape to the temporal when we celebrate the Sabbath. Creation was done and continues to be done in time. So the Sabbath becomes a day of re-creation, a day of holiness ("...and on the seventh day, God rested...and called it holy"), and also a day, because we are living it in time and in holiness, where we deepen our relationship to and celebrate our relationship with our Creator. In so doing, we attain glimpses of eternity.

I am, of course, missing a lot, and perhaps making some stuff up (and didn't have a clue what he was talking about when he likened the Sabbath to a Bride to be celebrated at the wedding feast). Properly read, this book would be studied, i.e. re-read, notes taken and so forth. I won't be doing that, in part because the book is due back at the library muy pronto. But it is interesting to contemplate how the world might differ if we all took off one day from our normal pursuits—many of us, one day off from being assholes—and considered our relationships with our Creator, and consequently with each other, since we are each of us a little piece of our Creator's work—all many parts, but just one body kind of stuff. That's not going to happen any time soon, of course, because the love of money—allegedly the root of all evil, or so Paul would have it—has pretty much trumped everything else in our modern world. But just think, if each of us reduced our personal assholism by just one seventh, how much better a world we would share with each other. ( )
  lgpiper | Jun 21, 2019 |
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Technical civilization is a man's conquest of space.
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The meaning of the Sabbath is to celebrate thime rather than space. Six days a week we live under the tyranny of things of space; on the Sabbath we try to become attuned to holiness in time. It is a day on which we are called upon to share in what is eternal in time, to turn from the results of creation to the mystery of creation; from the world of creation to the creation of the world. (p. 10)

This is our constant problem--how to live with people and remain free, how to live with things and remain independent P.89
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Elegant, passionate, and filled with the love of God's creation, Abraham Joshua Heschel's The Sabbath has been hailed as a classic of Jewish spirituality ever since its original publication - and has been read by thousands of people seeking meaning in modern life. In this brief yet profound meditation on the meaning of the Seventh Day, Heschel, one of the most widely respected religious leaders of the twentieth century, introduced the influential idea of an 'architecture of holiness" that appears not in space but in time. Judaism, he argues, is a religion of time: it finds meaning not in space and the materials things that fill it but in time and the eternity that imbues it, so that 'the Sabbaths are our greatcatherdrals.'

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