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The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man Hardcover – January 1, 1951

4.7 out of 5 stars 190 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Young; First Edition edition (January 1, 1951)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000SABB5U
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (190 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,923,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Rabbi Yonassan Gershom VINE VOICE on July 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Perhaps no aspect of Jewish religious observance has been so poorly understood by the outside world as the Sabbath. Gentile expressions such as "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath" have tended to give the impression that the Jewish Sabbath is something oppressive. Not so, says Rabbi Heschel. The Sabbath, when understood properly, is a gift of freedom.
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.
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Format: Paperback
Quite simply, this is one of the most beautiful, inspiring books I have ever read. Abraham Joshua Heschel, in a very short, accessible, clear manner, spells out the meaning of the Sabbath. I have been Jewish all my life, but realize now that I never truly understood Sabbath. The lessons in this book, which takes very little time to read, come back to me now every Friday night when I sit down with my family to say Shabbat prayers. It also has changed my approach to life the rest of the week, as Mr. Heschel explains the blessing of work and rest, and the place for each in life. Followers of other religions (certainly Christians) who have a day of rest will appreciate and benefit from the message of this book as much as Jewish individuals.
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Format: Paperback
I never fully grasped the significance of Sabbath-keeping until reading this book. Heschel introduces several key ideas about the nature of time and how the Sabbath sancitfies time. I am a Christian minister and found this to be an excellent resource, so I would recommend this to anyone who is seeking to understand the important of rest and rhythm in life.
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Format: Hardcover
Heschel's little 100 page book maybe the most important one I've read in the last year. He does not offer simplistic, pragmatic rationale for taking a day off, but the theological underpinnings for why God designed us to function in a pattern of work and rest.

I won't ruin the many great surprises in the little book, but here are a few gems:

Our need for more time, which we are always losing, is compensated by our search for more space, in our ongoing pursuit of more property. Time and space essentially struggle with one another through our lives. Yet time is eternal while the spatial is temporal. So, in essence, we have to make time for the eternal in our week.

The parable about the body needing to celebrate with the soul on the Sabbath on page 19 is priceless.

The criticism of Philo's defense of the Sabbath, that it is more Roman than Jewish, is brilliant.

The conclusion that the Sabbath is a day we recreate Eden and relive God's intention for us is so beautiful that I will need to take a day off this week to think about it.

"The Sabbath" is articulate, deep, witty, and practical. I couldn't recommend it more.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Sabbath is an awesome book to read for both Jews and Christians alike. Heschel's discussion of time, space and posessions is inspiring, and transforming. As a Christian, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and found it to be a very enlightening description of Jewish heritage. It challenged me to think about what time I observe with God, and for what reasons; what are my priorities; and how effective am I in living out my faith.
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Dipping into the pages of this thin volume is like drinking from a fresh spring in an oasis; it satisfies, but never stops bubbling up from below, refreshing again and again. Though it might not affect others as it did me, this work launches my mind off on a chain of speculations. And "The Sabbath" is quite poetic! Every (!) page is filled with gems like the following (p67): "A thought has blown the market place away. There is a song in the wind and joy in the trees. The Sabbath arrives in the world, scattering a song in the silence of the night: eternity utters a day." Another: "Israel is engaged to eternity. Even if they dedicate six days of the week to worldly pursuits, their soul is claimed by the seventh day."
"The Sabbath" is also intellectually satisfying. Heschel offers fresh ways of looking at existence: "...time is that which never expires...it is the world of space which is rolling through the infinite expanse of time."
At the level of daily existence, this work challenges a common perspective, asserting: "Labor is the means toward an end, and the Sabbath as a day of rest, as a day of abstaining from toil, is not for the purpose of becoming fit for the forthcoming labor. The Sabbath is a day for the sake of life. Man is not for the purpose of enhancing the efficiency of his work."
I mentioned that "The Sabbath" unleashed my speculative mind. For example, I tried to imagine the bubble of space-time suspended in an otherness we call God. Space is visible, filled with things; time is invisible but no less real. We and all around us float atop the river of time.... It occurred to me that at all instants, we are supported by the otherness that is in front of us in time, as well behind us in time.
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