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The Sabbath

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  2,607 Ratings  ·  234 Reviews
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 respec ...more
ebook, 118 pages
Published August 17th 2005 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1951)
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Steven 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…moreElegant, 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 introduced the 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 material things that fill it but in time and the eternity that imbues it, so that "the Sabbaths are our great cathedrals."(less)
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Kilian Metcalf
Sep 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I could feel the gears shifting in my head as I read this Jewish classic on the importance of sanctifying time instead of space. I'm sure I barely scratched the surface of the concepts that Heschel wishes to communicate. To plumb the depths will require rereading and reflection. It's a small book, packed with meaning, and one I will revisit again and again.
Daniel
I really liked this book. As a Christian, reading a Jewish perspective on Sabbath, one that seemed to draw on so much of Jewish tradition that I didn't know of, was a very rich experience for me. At the same time, there were definitely parts I didn't understand, probably because I am looking in from the outside.

Heschel speaks of Sabbath as a "palace in time". In a world where we work with Space, using our time to create things, build, make, the sabbath is a time to cease in our obsession with s
...more
Michelle Jones
Jul 30, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the most poetic book that isn’t actually poetry I’ve ever read. Heschel was in love with the Sabbath. Seriously in love with it and its place within Judaism and the world. This 100 page book is love song to it. When I took the Big Dunk one of the questions my Beit Din asked me was what particular observance meant the most to me and I said Shabbat. At the time my Shabbat observance was only a fraction of what it is now but even then it really was a sanctification of time for me.

Now Shabba
...more
Webster Bull
Apr 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faith
First book in a long time to make me want to give six stars. First book to make my jaw drop with its awesome erudition. Not the smarty-pants idea-pushing of the academic but the profound wisdom of the deeply religious, deeply read, great, wonderful man.

Daughter Susannah Heschel’s introduction about Sabbath observance in her childhood home lets us know just how wonderful her father was.

Heschel was (I’m guessing, no expert here) the great American Jewish theologian of the post–WWII era. It’s eno
...more
Julie Davis
Mar 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Continuing my education on the third commandment and why we need to take it seriously. Ok, I'm already converted to the concept and live it to the best of my ability ... but I want to elevate it in my mind and heart (if that makes sense). I think Heschel would understand what I want to do because this book is obviously written for that concept. Although I have to admit that the three rabbis parable is leaving me a bit stranded as it goes on for some time.

I meant to add that observing the sacred
...more
Melody
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
Heschel teaches me much about sacramentality and liturgy in my own Christian tradition by guiding me to a richer understanding of how the Jewish tradition understands the sacredness of time as a gift of divine presence in the lives of God's people. Lyrical and erudite, the book facilitates Sabbath: reflection on time as a gift rather than an enemy, the true, reliable indicator of God's goodness and presence in the world. "Creation is the language of God, Time is His song..." (101).
Soren Schmidt
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Heschel presents a stunningly simple and profound thesis: it is not in space, but in time, that we find God's likeness. In a few short passages this book changed the way I think about not only the Sabbath, but the nature of God and my relationship with Him. This is an absolute must-read for anyone trying to understand and experience holiness.
Mary Alice
I'll just post some quotes from the book to make you think:

There is a realm of time where the goal is not to have but to be, not to own but to give, not to control but to share, not to subdue but to be in accord. Life goes wrong when the control of space, the acquisition of things of space, becomes our sole concern.

In our daily lives we attend primarily to that which the senses are spelling out for us: to what the eyes perceive, to what the fingers touch. Reality to us is thinghood, consisting
...more
David
Sep 06, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was selected by my Jewish philosophy book club, and on the whole our impression was favorable. However, we thought that it was a bit scattered: it couldn't quite decide whether it was a philosophy, inspiration, kabbalah, legalisms, or what have you. One of us described it as "a cute book."

Heschel's great insight which drives the book is that instead of sanctifying space, Judaism primarily sanctifies time - and the sabbath is the most obvious and clear example of that. He differentiates betw
...more
Joel Wentz
Aug 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a classic for a reason, or rather, for many reasons. Rabbi Heschel's reflection on Sabbath-keeping is poetic, philosophical, and mystical. Even the act of reading it is a peaceful, meditative experience, and this is one that I could easily see myself returning to year after year, simply to keep the insights within it fresh and present. The central contention of his argument is that the Jewish tradition poses an alternative to the religions, governments, philosophies of the world. This al ...more
Homeschoolmama
Oct 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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, 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 u ...more
Michael Doyle
Breathtaking. A love story about Shabbat, written in the most amazingly respectful and reverent language that easily communicates the hallowed feeling of the day, and why you might want to keep Shabbat, too.
Melanie
Oct 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant. If I could give it more than five stars, I would.
Brooke
Sep 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. Having a book like this assigned for my major religions class was a dream come true. Religion is one of my favorite topics.

Heschel was an absolutely beautiful writer. As a teacher and scholar in Hasidic Judaism, an Orthodox branch, he was incredibly well informed on his subject and brought that to light in the text. However, his book is understandable and respectful to those not of this faith.

The way the Sabbath was presented is a new experience for me, but helped me to understand a
...more
Lisa Feld
There is something both truly lovely and deeply frustrating about this book. In a way, it reminds me of my experience in reading Rumi: beautiful, transformative sentences, but the whole is so unstructured that it's impossible to point to any full poem (or here, a full chapter) as enjoyable, profound, or working well.

Heschel begins with an interesting premise, that humans spend their energy trying to control space, the physical world, while the Sabbath offers us a chance to step outside that para
...more
Amar Pai
One nice thing about religion is that practicing it makes you very aware of the cyclical nature of time. You get attuned to the seasons. There are celebrations of renewal in spring, and festivals of light during the darkest days of winter.

Judaism especially is all about the sanctification of time. It’s been argued that Jews were without a nation for so long that they became “at home only in time.” What is the Sabbath if not an abstract cathedral erected each Saturday?

Heschel wrote the poetical b
...more
Rebecca
Oct 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jewish
I'd read this book many years ago, right when I decided that I MIGHT be interested in keeping Shabbos. Picking it up at the library, I wondered how well it would hold up now that I'm Orthodox and have been keeping Shabbos strictly for 18 years.

It's a revelation. Not only does it really hold water for someone who is Orthodox - Rabbi Heschel was Conservative - but his writing is so poetic, I was in raptures. Just a lovely book.
Jonathan
Jun 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: judaism
Abraham Heschel who was Professor of Ethics and Mysticism at the Jewish Theological Seminary, wrote this, his most famous work on how the Shabbat appears not in space, but rather in time. That is to say that we experience holiness in time and the eternity that imbues it and not in material things or places. And the Shabbat is Judaism's greatest "temple." This slim volume is a spiritual rendering of the Shabbat's significance. A must for those who seek to understand Judaism and it's holy days.
Erica
Oct 09, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
A dear friend and mentor reccommended this book to me quite a while ago, and I've only now finished it. It's beautiful and thought provoking and quite often challenging all at the same time. A few gems: "Time to us is sarcasm, a slick treacherous monster with a jaw like a furnace incinerating every moment of our lives." "Eternity utters a day."
David
Nov 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautiful and profound book. It is too bad that most people will miss it.
Jeremy
Jan 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: judaism
A brilliant work, both for those with broad familiarity with Judaism and for one seeking something of the depth and spirituality of the tradition beyond the introductory.
Heather
Feb 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religious
I think there is a lot that we can all learn from Judaism, particularly about the importance, blessings, and purpose of observing the Sabbath. The way they honor the Sabbath is remarkable and causes me to pause and think about my devotion and commitment to God. This is a short and interesting book that contains some helpful insights into their beliefs.

I thought the discussion of space and time was particularly interesting. We focus so much on things and places in this life, but they can get in
...more
Jeremy Manuel
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sabbath, judaism
As a Christian, Sabbath, has always been a concept talked about but never really fleshed out too much. That it always tended to have a more outward focus, lamenting on how others weren't keeping the Sabbath, rather than an inward focus. So after hearing good things about the Jewish classic by Abraham Joshua Heschel, I wanted to give it a shot and see what insights he had into the idea of Sabbath.

Now the way that Heschel approaches the Sabbath from the beginning is very different from any way I h
...more
Gabe
Sep 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting and quick read. Heschel's prose is poetic and powerful, although a bit meandering. The book is more of an extended ode to the Jewish Sabbath than a guide to its understanding or a rigorous treatise. To me, the subtitle of the book "The Sabbath — its meaning for modern man" may be a bit misleading. The meaning of the Sabbath discussed here is quite abstract and doesn't strike me as particularly modern (even for the 1950s when it was written). He goes on at length about how ...more
Shira
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Overall, this was a wonderful book, and I must thank Rabbi for recommending it to me. R. Heschel makes this book, and the idea of Shabbat, accessible for those of all faiths (or even none). On page 14 he cites Philo's excellent use of terms that the ancient Greeks already understood, those of athletics, to explain his concept, but points out on page 18 that even in Rome, bread and circuses were not enough. Mankind needs sacred time as well. I love the idea of 6-winged angels, and the ideas of pa ...more
Connor
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book gives you an entirely new way of seeing the world. Trenchant and wholly differentiated from our modern values, "The Sabbath" simultaneously helped me understand the Hebraic values which shaped so much of my own religious literature, and adopt a new value of Sabbath for the time I still possess.
Nick Jordan
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 didn't love it.
Kim Tee Em
Mar 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The wisdom of Heschel is clear and I loved reading his insights into the Sabbath. Great to gain some knowledge especially as a non-Jew.
However there were times the concepts were quite abstract and complex that it took me some time to get my head around the ideas of time and space.
Thomas Flowers
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pure poetry and especially great for readers who are not Jewish and wish to learn more of the practice of Sabbath, and not just the text book reasons, but reasons of faith and passion. Wonderfully written.
Bradley Farless
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.
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Heschel was a descendant of preeminent rabbinic families of Europe, both on his father's (Moshe Mordechai Heschel, who died of influenza in 1916) and mother's (Reizel Perlow Heschel) side, and a descendant of Rebbe Avrohom Yehoshua Heshl of Apt and other dynasties. He was the youngest of six children including his siblings: Sarah, Dvora Miriam, Esther Sima, Gittel, and Jacob. In his teens he recei ...more
More about Abraham Joshua Heschel...
“To gain control of the world of space is certainly one of our tasks. The danger begins when in gaining power in the realm of space we forfeit all aspirations in the realm of time. There is a realm of time where the goal is not to have but to be, not to own but to give, not to control but to share, not to subdue but to be in accord. Life goes wrong when the control of space, the acquisition of things of space, becomes our sole concern.” 12 likes
“The Sabbath is the day on which we learn the art of surpassing civilization.” 7 likes
More quotes…