Judaism Lifestyle Religion

Book Review! The Sabbath World

August 20, 2017

I was struggling a lot this past year to find a work/life balance. I was burning out fast, tired, grumpy, and overworked but I didn’t know what to do besides leave my job. I did eventually move to a new school but I knew that these problems could crop up again if I was not careful.

I love teaching but I wanted to find someway to make a balance that worked for me. This is an ongoing journey and I am nowhere near finished figuring it all out. However, I am doing some research! As a practicing Catholic, I gravitated towards the ritual of a Jewish Sabbath, and after having the lovely opportunity to go to an Orthodox home for a Shabbat meal I knew I wanted to search in that direction.

Read more: Honoring the Sabbath

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Sabath world-close up

I picked up this book, The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time by Judith Shulevitz, while at the Jewish Heritage Museum in New York City. It was quite different from what I was expecting but refreshing nonetheless. The book is not a “how to” manual on the Sabbath; instead, the author herself admits her struggles to keep “the Sabbath holy.” The book is more of a sociological and psychological study on the Sabbath throughout history. It travels from the acts of Creation to the establishment of the Fourth Commandment to how modern people have adapted (and abandoned) the day of non-work.

One lovely concept I took away from the book is the misnomer of the Sabbath as a “day of rest,” when instead the Jewish version is a “day of non-work.” A minor distinction, but not-working does not necessarily mean 100% rest. This subtle distinction has allowed me to see the idea “keeping the Sabbath” in a new light.

Read more: Student Series! The Sabbath

I still don’t know what I’ll do (or not) do on my Sabbath day, or which day I will keep it, but I do know that this book has allowed me to grow on this journey to find the right balance for happiness, fulfillment, and joy in my life. If you are searching for a way (religious or secular), I highly recommend this intellectual read.

JMF

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