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The Sabbath (FSG Classics) Paperback – 17 Aug 2005
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"Heschel's The Sabbath is easily the primary text for all subsequent American Jewish Spirituality." --Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, author of God Was In This Place
"Clearly Heschel's most beloved book, The Sabbath is much more than a book about the Sabbath. It is, rather, our century's most illuminating study of the dynamics of Jewish ritual living." --Dr. Neil Gillman, author of Sacred Fragments
"Timeless. Read it, and be ready to be changed." --The Revered Richard John Neuhaus, editor in chief of First Things
About the Author
Abraham Joshua Heschel was internationally known as a scholar, author, activist, and theologian. He was Professor of Ethics and Mysticism at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.
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This handsomely bound and stunningly illustrated meditation on the theme of the Sabbath, in all its aspects and implications, is just that: a meditation. Professor Heschel, again and again, suggests that the Sabbath is more than merely a 'day of rest' but rather a temporal epitome of the divine, the holy, given to us to not only 'rest from our labours' but help create a time of restoration, serenity, peace, renewal.
We in the more and more secular world we inhabit have all but discarded the whole idea of a Sabbath, be it Jewish or Christian. This benignly argued book convinces me of what we have lost. I say 'benignly argued' but, beneath the sincerity and compassion of Heschel's words, is a rigorously intelligent mind at work. Using dozens of examples from both the Old Testament and Jewish scholars down the ages, he builds his case for the spiritual, as well as social, necessity - indeed the intrinsic meaning - of the Sabbath.
His central idea, and one which elevates this book into a philosophical meditation, is the essential importance of time and its (literally) eternal mystery. 'Eternity utters a day' as Heschel puts it.
The final chapters rise, crescendo-like, to a most moving, stirring last few pages on the very nature of time in relation to the spiritual, and, crucially, in relation to space - by 'space' he means all that is spatial, contingent. Perhaps this is best exemplified in this passage near the end:
Creation, we are taught, is not an act that happened once upon a time, once and for ever. The act of bringing the world into existence is a continuous process. God called the world into being, and that call goes on. There is this present moment because God is present. Every instant is an act of creation. A moment is not a terminal but a flash, a signal of Beginning. Time is perpetual innovation, a synonym for continuous creation. Time is God`s gift to the world of space.
But this is an endlessly quotable book, one to re-read, dip into, open at random... Always will be found food for thought and contemplation.
With a touching introduction by his daughter, writer-scholar Susannah Heschel, which among other things gives a loving picture of life chez Heschel, and the many vivid wood engravings by Ilya Schor adorning each brief but brimming chapter, this unique book is both a work of art and a timely reminder (60 years after its composition!) of the beauty and necessity of what we have all but lost.
A beautiful book.
As a Christian this book forms a firm foundation for further reading into our Sunday- day of the Lord- the Messaiah's day, proceeding the day of expectation.