There’s one book which I think is indispensable for convincing you [Sabbath is important] - Abraham Heschel’s book, The Sabbath. If you read that book three times, you will think, “There is no way I cannot keep the Sabbath. If I’m going to honor God, I’ve got to keep a Sabbath.” It’s a paperback, inexpensive. If the commandments don’t convince you, which they should, Heschel should do it. (Emphasis mine)I immediately added The Sabbath to my Amazon cart. It came today. And I'm already entranced.
The author's daughter wrote the foreword. Her description of the family's weekly Sabbath observance makes me hunger for this sort of tradition for my own family. For me.
Friday evenings in my home were the climax of the week, as they are for every religious Jewish family. My mother and I kindled the lights for the Sabbath, and all of a sudden, I felt transformed, emotionally and even physically. ...Don't you love that?
The sense of peace that came upon us as we kindled the lights was created, in part, by the hectic tension of Fridays. Preparation for a holy day, my father often said, was as important as the day itself. During the busy mornings, my mother shopped for groceries, and in the afternoons, the atmosphere grew increasingly nervous as she cooked. My father came home from his office an hour or two before sunset to take care of his own preparations, and as the last minutes of the workweek came to a close, both of my parents were in the kitchen, frantically trying to remember what they might have forgotten to prepare. ...
Then, suddenly, it was time: twenty minutes before sunset. Whatever hadn't been finished in the kitchen we simply left behind as we lit the candles and blessed the arrival of the Sabbath My father writes: "The Sabbath comes like a caress, wiping away fear, sorrow and somber memories."
I will write more in the coming days about the intersection of Sabbath theory and Sabbath reality -- and intersection that is quite messy and congested for me, since I didn't grow up with a Sabbath tradition and I'm a mom to little ones.
But for now, I will just wrap that picture of Sabbath around me like a fuzzy fleece blanket and let it warm me all the way to my soul.