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The Sabbath (FSG Classics) Paperback – July 28, 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
From the Inside Flap
Elegant, passionate, and filled with the love of God?s creation, Abraham Hoshua Heschel?s The Sabbath has been hailed as a classic of Jewish spirituality ever since its original publication in 1951?and has been read by thousands of people of many faiths seeking meaning in modern life. In this brief yet profound meditation on the meaning of the Seventh Day, Heschel introduced the enormously influential idea of an ?architecture of holiness? that appears not in space but in time. Judaism, he argues, is the religion of time: it finds meaning not in space and the material things that fill it but in time and the eternity that imbues it, so that ?the Sabbaths are our great cathedrals.? --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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In this now-classic book, first published in 1951, Heschel shows how the Sabbath is a "palace in time," a carefully structured retreat from the hustle and bustle of the marketplace. The laws of the Sabbath are the spiritual architecture with which the "palace in time" is built. Once you understand the blueprint for that palace, then all of the restrictions and to-do things on the Sabbath make sense.
Heschel was the first Jewish theologian (as far as I know) to explain how traditional Jews live more in sacred time than in sacred space. While other religions have devoted their energy to building physical temples and cathedrals in sacred places, Jews have erected sanctuaries in the form of sacred days. Time, like physical space, has a varied texture to it. Just as there are differences between mountains and oceans, so, too, are there are there differences between the Sabbath and the ordinary days of the week. The Sabbath is more than just a secular "day off." It's a specific creation made by God in the very dawn of Creation. The Sabbath is as real as the physical things we see and touch everyday in the natural world. But in order to experience the specialness of the Sabbath, one must step inside the structure of its special rules and observances -- to enter the "palace in time."
This book is beautifully-written in poetic prose that will inspire both Jews and non-Jews. It goes in and out of print with various publsihers, so, if it is not available on Amazon right now, track down a used copy or borrow it from the library. You will be very glad you did! s
R Heschel (z'l) was a brilliant scholar, which makes this very approachable, readable text that much more valuable to an average reader. Every time I dip back in, for a chapter or even just a few paragraphs, I find some new insight.