The goal of Abraham Joshua Heschel’s The Sabbath is clear from the prologue: Heschel wishes to reestablish the Sabbath day as a celebration of holiness in time. In a civilization that cherishes production, tangible products carry utmost importance. The condition runs so deep, in fact, that Heschel describes our reality itself as being comprised of tangible objects: “Reality to us is thinghood, consisting of substances that occupy space” (pg 5). In opposition to this model, Heschel identifies what is first declared “holy” in the Genesis creation story. It is not a place, or an object, but the seventh day. It is this time that God sanctifies, and in the next ten chapters, Heschel makes a compelling argument for the return to observance of the Sabbath as holy time. This is not in opposition to labor or the civilized spaces of this world, but rather that which gives meaning to these other endeavors. Heschel argues that both are necessary, but one must always remember the priority: “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” (pg 6).
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