A Book Review: The Sabbath World

February 24, 2013 on 3:01 pm | In Books, Oh Yeah, Relationships, Religion, The World | No Comments

The Sabbath World Glimpses of A Different Order of Time

By Judith Shulevitz

Her website is here:  http://judithshulevitz.com/ Current website url, as of February 24 2013.

An interesting book on how to look at the Sabbath combining religious thoughts, secular thoughts and history in one book. This book is a book about finding the Sabbath’s place in a fast and unsure world. And about finding what the Sabbath means. Is the Sabbath a religious thing? Is there a place for a sabbath in a secular world? And if so how does one go about finding that place?

She has some insights that are pretty interesting. One of which is how as a society we look at time and how that look has changed throughout the centuries. I had never thought about that before, really.  Another interesting point she asks about, is there a place in the secular world for a sabbath?  A place in time for society to take a collective time off from worldly cares each week?

It is written from what I would call a, secular Jewish searcher’s, standpoint. So don’t expect any great religious AH GotchA! moments.  Coming into the Christian faith from the standpoint of not being a believer, I have some problems understanding her points at time. Yet on the the other hand having accepted the faith as a Christian Sabbath keeper I can look at life long Christian Sabbath keepers and see somewhat what she means. As I often see the same questions from Christians.

One of the interesting things I found was the question of, if we should force even a secular sabbath on people for the good of the people. She seems to believe that perhaps we should. I find this to be somewhat disturbing as I don’t believe that the government should be able to tell me if I should or I should not be able to buy on a certain day of the week. I do wonder if this may come from her desire to be required to take a rest from the weekly grind as if somehow she thinks it will make it easier to do?

She seems to be bothered by the fact that she can not make her idea of what the Sabbath should be, coincide with her idea of how she wants to spend the Sabbath. I think that this is an issue for all Sabbath keepers some more so then others. And especially with these that have been in a Sabbath keeping religion all their life perhaps more so. As it too often becomes a list of I can’t do’s instead of a list of what can I do. God in the Torah gave ten commandments, perhaps eleven depending on how you count them. The first four have to do with our relationship to God the last six have to do with our relationship to man. Eight of the commandments are listed as negatives. Don’t do this or don’t do that. The fifth, says to honor your mother and your father, one of the positive commandments. The other commandment listed in a positive way is the fourth, the one that says to remember the Sabbath. These rules when given on the mountain were not new ideas, they were all brought down though the ages from the creation of man. I do not understand Jewish religion very well but it seems that at least some believe that these were new ideas on the mountain.

If all the don’t do this or don’t do that can be boiled down to 8 items really doesn’t that allow a lot more that we can do then we can’t do?

If there is one question that I could have asked her to answer in her book, it would be, how does the Sabbath and keeping it relate to God and our relationship to God? Ok perhaps that is two questions. On this point her book has failed.  But overall the book gave me something to think about, it answered some questions and asked me some questions. That is what a good book should do.  I would recommend to anyone that is religious to read this book because it causes one to question what is religion. And to non believers if they are interested in moral issues, it would make a good read for them too.


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