Heschel, for your Sabbath day

A joyful, if challenging, passage from Heschel’s “The Sabbath” for your Sabbath day:

He who wants to enter the holiness of the day must first lay down the profanity of clattering commerce, of being yoked to toil  He must go away from the screech of dissonant days, from the nervousness and fury of acquisitiveness and the betrayal in embezzling his own life.  He must say farewell to manual work and learn to understand that the world has already been created and will survive without the help of man.  Six days a week we wrestle with the world, wringing profit from the earth; on the Sabbath we especially care for the seed of eternity planted in the soil.  The world has our hands, but our soul belongs to Someone Else.  Six days a week we seek to dominate the world, on the seventh day we try to dominate the self.

To the biblical mind…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 recovering one’s lost strength and becoming fit for the forthcoming labor.  The Sabbath is a day for the sake of life.  Man is not a beast of burden, and the Sabbath is not for the purpose of enhancing the efficiency of his work.  “Last in creation, first in intention,” the Sabbath is “the end of the creation of the heaven and the earth.”

The Sabbath is not for the sake of the weekdays; the weekdays are for the sake of the Sabbath.  It is not an interlude, but the climax of living.

Impressive passage.

What if…

…we really believed that the world would survive without our help?

…we understood that “what we do” (i.e., work) is but a slice of our lives, and not the whole?

…we truly embraced the idea that we were not “beasts of burden”?

…we saw Sabbath as the foundation and climax for life, the lens through which we understood what it meant to be really human, rather than a mere “interlude” or a “refresher” so that we can get on with the “real business” of life (i.e., work)?

What would change?

May your Sabbath meet you with joy today (or tomorrow 🙂 )

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