The Sabbath Quotes

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The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man by Abraham Joshua Heschel
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“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.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath
“Man is not a beast of burden, and the Sabbath is not for the purpose of enhancing the efficiency of his work.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man
“Gallantly, ceaselessly, quietly, man must fight for inner liberty” to remain independent of the enslavement of the material world. “Inner liberty depends upon being exempt from domination of things as well as from domination of people. There are many who have acquired a high degree of political and social liberty, but only very few are not enslaved to things. This is our constant problem—how to live with people and remain free, how to live with things and remain independent.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath
“We may not know whether our understanding is correct, or whether our sentiments are noble, but the air of the day surrounds us like spring which spreads over the land without our aid or notice.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man
“The Sabbath is the day on which we learn the art of surpassing civilization.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath
“The solution of mankind’s most vexing problem will not be found in renouncing technical civilization, but in attaining some degree of independence of it.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath
“The primitive mind finds it hard to realize an idea without the aid of imagination, and it is the realm of space where imagination wields its sway. Of the gods it must have a visible image; where there is no image, there is no god. The reverence for the sacred image, for the sacred monument or place, is not only indigenous to most religions, it has even been retained by men of all ages, all nations, pious, superstitious or even antireligious; they all continue to pay homage to banners and flags, to national shrines, to monuments erected to kings or heroes. Everywhere the desecration of holy shrines is considered a sacrilege, and the shrine may become so important that the idea it stands for is consigned to oblivion. The memorial becomes an aid to amnesia; the means stultify the end. For things of space are at the mercy of man. Though too sacred to be polluted, they are not too sacred to be exploited. To retain the holy, to perpetuate the presence of god, his image is fashioned. Yet a god who can be fashioned, a god who can be confined, is but a shadow of man.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath
“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. Nothing”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath
“Labor is a blessing, toil is the misery of man.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath
“The Sabbath is the presence of God in the world, open to the soul of man.” God is not in things of space, but in moments of time.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath
“Shabbat comes with its own holiness; we enter not simply a day, but an atmosphere. My father cites the Zohar: the Sabbath is the name of God. We are within the Sabbath rather than the Sabbath being within us. For my father, the question is how to perceive that holiness: not how much to observe, but how to observe. Strict adherence to the laws regulating Sabbath observance doesn’t suffice; the goal is creating the Sabbath as a foretaste of paradise. The Sabbath is a metaphor for paradise and a testimony to God’s presence; in our prayers, we anticipate a messianic era that will be a Sabbath, and each Shabbat prepares us for that experience: “Unless one learns how to relish the taste of Sabbath … one will be unable to enjoy the taste of eternity in the world to come.” It was on the seventh day that God gave the world a soul, and “[the world’s] survival depends upon the holiness of the seventh day.” The task, he writes, becomes how to convert time into eternity, how to fill our time with spirit: “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 soul. The world has our hands, but our soul belongs to Someone Else.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath
“Zion is in ruins, Jerusalem lies in the dust. All week there is only hope of redemption. But when the Sabbath is entering the world, man is touched by a moment of actual redemption; as if for a moment the spirit of the Messiah moved over the face of the earth.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath
“The Sabbath is the most precious present mankind has received from the treasure house of God. All week we think: The spirit is too far away, and we succumb to spiritual absenteeism, or at best we pray: Send us a little of Thy spirit. On the Sabbath the spirit stands and pleads: Accept all excellence from me …”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath
“The higher goal of spiritual living is not to amass a wealth of information, but to face sacred moments. In a religious experience, for example, it is not a thing that imposes itself on man but a spiritual presence. 5 What is retained in the soul is the moment of insight rather than the place where the act came to pass. A moment of insight is a fortune, transporting us beyond the confines of measured time.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath
“The Sabbath is a reminder of the two worlds—this world and the world to come; it is an example of both worlds. For the Sabbath is joy, holiness, and rest; joy is part of this world; holiness and rest are something of the world to come.”16”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath
“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 soul. 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.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath
“Unless one learns how to relish the taste of Sabbath … one will be unable to enjoy the taste of eternity in the world to come.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath
“The mind’s preoccupation with things of space affects, to this day, all activities of man. Even religions are frequently dominated by the notion that the deity resides in space, within particular localities like mountains, forests, trees or stones, which are, therefore, singled out as holy places; the deity is bound to a particular land; holiness a quality associated with things of space, and the primary question is: Where is the god? There is much enthusiasm for the idea that God is present in the universe, but that idea is taken to mean His presence in space rather than in time, in nature rather than in history; as if He were a thing, not a spirit.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath
“Spiritual life begins to decay when we fail to sense the grandeur of what is eternal in time. Our intention here is not to deprecate the world of space. To disparage space and the blessing of things of space, is to disparage the works of creation, the works which God beheld and saw “it was good.” The world cannot be seen exclusively sub specie temporis. Time and space are interrelated. To overlook either of them is to be partially blind. What we plead against is man’s unconditional surrender to space, his enslavement to things. We must not forget that it is not a thing that lends significance to a moment; it is the moment that lends significance to things.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath
“In Jewish tradition, dying in one’s sleep is called a kiss of God, and dying on the Sabbath is a gift that is merited by piety. For the pious person, my father once wrote, it is a privilege to die.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath
“Architecture of Time       Technical civilization is man’s conquest of space. It is a triumph frequently achieved by sacrificing an essential ingredient of existence, namely, time. In technical civilization, we expend time to gain space. To enhance our power in the world of space is our main objective. Yet to have more does not mean to be more. The power we attain in the world of space terminates abruptly at the borderline of time. But time is the heart of existence.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath
“the Sabbath is entirely independent of the month and unrelated to the moon.11 Its date is not determined by any event in nature, such as the new moon, but by the act of creation. Thus the essence of the Sabbath is completely detached from the world of space. The meaning of the Sabbath is to celebrate time rather than space. Six days a week we live under the tyranny of things of space; on the Sabbath we try to become attuned to holiness in time. It is a day on which we are called upon to share in what is eternal in time, to turn from the results of creation to the mystery of creation; from the world of creation to the creation of the world.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath
“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.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man
“There is a word that is seldom said, a word for an emotion almost too deep to be expressed: the love of the Sabbath.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath
“The Jewish contribution to the idea of love is the conception of love of the Sabbath, the love of a day, of spirit in the form of time.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath
“Time and space are interrelated. To overlook either of them is to be partially blind. What we plead against is man’s unconditional surrender to space, his enslavement to things. We must not forget that it is not a thing that lends significance to a moment; it is the moment that lends significance to things.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath
“Just as we are commanded to keep the Sabbath, we are commanded to labor.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath
“Happy is he who is aware of the mysteries of his Lord.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath
“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 soul. 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.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath
“sanctification is dependent upon human behavior and attitude.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath

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