Abraham Joshua Heschel on Shabbat

Abraham Joshua Heschel's thoughts on the Sabbath are worth contemplating.

It’s a peaceful and cloudless Saturday here in Evanston.

Dunreith and I have been relaxing, doing some cleaning and catching up with various friends and family members after taking Aidan to the high school for his lacrosse game against the team from Hoffman Estates.

While a more religious Jew than I would scoff at the idea of our day being a legitimate observance of the Sabbath, today for us does have a spiritual and contemplative feel.

Abraham Joshua Heschel, the famed rabbi who left his native Poland in the face of the rising Nazi advances and later march with Dr. King in the Selma march, made the Sabbath the subject of one of his many books.

The descendant of seven generations of rabbis, Heschel writes in The Sabbath about Judaism as a religion, the need to release desire for material gain and wealth, and instead to work toward a more spiritual relationship with God.   Rather than coveting goods, he says, people should covet time as a way to experience communion with the Almighty.

Nonbelievers and atheists may not want to engage with Heschel’s words and values, but the reward is there for those who do.


2 responses to “Abraham Joshua Heschel on Shabbat

  1. Like many good Irish-Catholic lads, I sat in the pew each Sunday, dusting off the night’s sleep, catching a pinch from Mom for yawning, smelling the whiskey coming out of Dad’s pores, and always in search for God. Was He (always a He) in Jesus as he hung from the cross? Or hiding near Mary and Joseph up by the altar with the burning candles? All focus at Mass was on the Monsignor (even when he sang out of tune), perhaps God hung out with him in the rectory. The wooden angels above were a particularly favorite idol of contemplation for me. Did God have wings too? Searching, searching, always searching…

    As a young man I read Heschel’s “God in Search of Man,” and continue to be driven, perhaps haunted, by this possibility.

    To be continued over borscht soup at Manny’s!

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