Sabbath Meditation, Abraham Joshua Heschel

One thing I appreciate about Abraham Joshua Heschel’s little volume on The Sabbath is his profound meditation about time. So, as you prepare, perhaps, to light your candles and bless your wine, here are some quotes:

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 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.

The Sabbaths are our great cathedrals; and our Holy of Holies is a shrine that neither the Romans or the Nazis were able to burn; a shrine that even apostasy cannot easily obliterate: the Day of Atonement.

The Bible is more concerned with time than with space. It sees the world in the dimension of time. It pays more attention to generations, to events, than to countries, to things; it is more concerned with history than with geography. To understand the teaching of the Bible, one must accept the premise that time has a meaning for life which is at least equal to that of space; that time has a significance and sovereignty of its own.

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 already has 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.


About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
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2 Responses to Sabbath Meditation, Abraham Joshua Heschel

  1. Leslie says:

    Great to find your website! My small group is working through Brennan Manning’s “Ragamuffin Gospel.” In chapter 5 of his book which deals with finding the wonder of God in creation, he quotes Heschel from “Sabbath” with (in part): “Christ plays in ten thousand places.” I know that Eugene Peterson took that line for the title of one of his recent books, but, I wondered if you have any insight as to Heschel’s understanding of “Christ” in his own book. I am certain that he doesn’t meen Y’shua, but the folks in my group are curious about the context and I didn’t have a complete answer for them, or myself. Thanks for your insights and help.


  2. Leslie:

    I apologize, but I have been snowed under. I am not familiar with the quote you mention. That doesn’t mean it is not there. I read Hescel’s books slowly and occasionally for soul nourishment, but I have not finished the book. If you could give me a page number or some help, I could find it.


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