The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man

by Abraham Joshua Heschel

Book, 1951



Call number

237 HES


New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1980, c1951., 118 pages


Elegant, passionate, and filled with the love of God's creation, Abraham Joshua Heschel's The Sabbath has been hailed as a classic of Jewish spirituality ever since its original publication - and has been read by thousands of people seeking meaning in modern life. In this brief yet profound meditation on the meaning of the Seventh Day, Heschel, one of the most widely respected religious leaders of the twentieth century, introduced the influential idea of an 'architecture of holiness" that appears not in space but in time. Judaism, he argues, is a religion of time: it finds meaning not in space and the materials things that fill it but in time and the eternity that imbues it, so that 'the Sabbaths are our greatcatherdrals.'

User reviews

LibraryThing member homeschoolmimzi
This was probably one of the most inspiring books I've read. A short book, it is full of rich, deep truths and insights. Heschel talks at length about time and space, and leads the reader into some philosophical worlds which are exciting and new. The meaning of the Sabbath- rest, holiness,
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sanctuary and peace- is explored and delved into here, like no other book I've read on the subject. The only parts where I got a bit lost were when Heschel would quote from works by other rabbis- texts I was unfamiliar with. But this didn't hinder my understanding. I highly recommend this book to anyone who longs for rest, for a meaningful Sabbath, for a break from the busyness, corruption and weariness of the world, especially during this election season!
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LibraryThing member cbradley
Abraham Heschel draws an image of the Sabbath from both the Hebrew Bible and the rabbinic interpretations of the scriptures to expound on the idea of the Sabbath being a sanctification of eternal time rather than temporal place. The Sabbath in this sense is not seen so much as a day of rest but as
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a completion of creation, a necessary part of the whole. The culmination of Heschel’s idea of Sabbath is that Sabbath connects the finite nature of the world with the eternity of time.

The origin of Sabbath rest, according to Heschel, comes from god’s resting on the seventh day of creation. The seventh day however is not just denoted by rest in scripture but by three distinct actions on God’s part; rest, blessing, and a hallowing of the day. Thus the seventh day is not simply a day of rest, but a day with a special significance, not just good as the first six days were, but holy in and of itself. Heschel also describes how the Sabbath did not come about after creation was finished, but as an integral part of the creative order. The day of rest is not a day set aside from creation but an act of creation itself.
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LibraryThing member KimBooSan
Absolutely beautiful book about the concept of "sacred time" as opposed to "sacred space." It resonated a lot with me, even as an atheist, because it was focused on how we choose to perceive the reality of time around us. Whether you think sacred time is blessed by a supernatural being, or if, like
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me, you believe that is a gift we give ourselves, this book has something in it for you. Gorgeously written.
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LibraryThing member nicholasjjordan
I've intended to read this book for years, but I didn't expect it to be what it is: Jewish philosophy. It's not a practical book on practicing Sabbath, but meditations on the Sabbath by one who has experienced it. It has some strong insights, and I think it might merit a reread down the line, but I
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didn't love it.
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LibraryThing member SGTCat
Considering the book's reputation, I expected a lot more. The prose was long winded and sometimes the author stated something that doesn't really make sense, logically, but presented it as being the logical conclusion of his argument. It took me years to finish it because I kept falling asleep.
LibraryThing member John_Warner
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that
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he had done in creation. Genesis 2:1-3 NRSV

Considered a classic of Jewish spirituality, The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man is an elegant and beautifully-written treatise seeking to renew a sanctification of time. Rabbi Heschel distinguishes between space and time, the former within the realm of man, the latter lies within the realm of God.

This theological study possessed so many "aha" moments, I found myself frequently highlighting the various arguments. Not surprising, I discerned a number of connections with our Christian theology.
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Original publication date



0374529752 / 9780374529758

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