Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Book Review The Sabbath World by Judith Shulevitz

Do you find yourself exhausted all the time? Tired of your Monday morning commute to work? Tired of soccer practices, food shopping, and housework? Well, maybe you need a vacation or maybe you just need to take a Sabbath rest once in a while.

If you are overworked and need some direction you need to read The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time by Judith Shulevitz. I came across a review of this book in the New York Times Book Review and knew this book was a MUST READ.

Judith is literary critic and author. Her work as appeared in the New York Times and Slate magazine.

In The Sabbath World, Judith tackles the big topic of Sabbath and what Sabbath means for today. She takes up this topic not just from its religious roots in the Hebrew Bible and later in the New Testament, but also what Sabbath means today in our ever changing world of communication, work, and globalization. According to the Old Testament there are many rules and regulations about how to honor the Sabbath. Judith questions these rules so that people today can incarnate the beauty of Sabbath rest for today. How can people honor the Sabbath in a way that is akin to how we live in our hectic and crazy world. Let's face it most people cannot rush home at 5:05pm because the sun is setting and you have to prepare the Sabbath meal. What about family's where one parent has to work on the weekend?We have to remember that the Sabbath and many of the ancient Jewish and Christian religious practices originated in an agrarian culture where people lived according to the rising and the setting of the sun and the seasons of the year.

She also includes quite a lot of information about how Christians in the past have either disregarded the Sabbath altogether or other Christian groups who followed the Sabbath.

I loved every page of The Sabbath World. Judith has a wonderful easy to read writing style and draws from her own personal stories and anecdotes about her Jewish heritage and what the Sabbath means to her.

I will certainly read and re-read this book in the years to come. The Sabbath World complements the work of the late Jewish theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel whose book The Sabbath I read at least once per year. The cover too is very appealing, it reminds me of the approaching evening in the middle of the summer, a time for rest and relaxation after a hard days work.