Abraham Heschel is a prominent Jewish scholar who was an active contributor in the Civil Rights movement and wrote a several books like The Sabbath and Man is not Alone, which examine the relationship humanity has with God and the relationship that the Jewish people have with God. Throughout Heschel’s The Sabbath, he explains the Sabbath tradition of the Jewish people, and in Man is not Alone he aims to guide readers through divine revelation, but how do these two pieces of Jewish literature compare to one another and more importantly, how can they coincide with one another?
Heschel explains the Sabbath as a spiritual rhythm of life. When he talks about the day of rest, or menuha, he says its not simply about ceasing labor: “Menuha which we usually render with ‘rest’ means here much more than withdrawal from labor and exertion, more than freedom from toil and strain or activity of any kind. Menuha is not a negative concept but something real and intrinsically positive” . Heschel believed the Sabbath rest was a positive thing, and was the purpose and pinnacle of labor. He said that we work in our everyday lives in order for us to take a day of rest in which we reflect in quietness and rest to God. He references a passage in Isaiah that says, “In quietness and rest is your strength…” "Labor without dignity is the cause of misery; rest without the spirit the source of depravity" .
The preservation of the Sabbath is one of the most important aspects of the Jewish Culture and religion. By abiding by the Sabbath, the Jewish people have a distinctive way of connecting with God. The Jewish religion is unique to other religions; in other religions, temples and churches are built as holy space, but Judaism builds a church to God in time, by following the Sabbath. Heschel writes, “The higher goal of spiritual living is not to amass a wealth of information, but to face sacred moments” . I think two significant parts of the Sabbath, for Heschel, is the relationship we have with God and the nature of the self. We tend to live incomplete and distracted lives, by resting on the Sabbath it allows us to reflect on what our lives mean, and to renew our faith and morals in order to live a more complete existence. He says that the Sabbath day is not just about ourselves, but it’s also about the one we develop spiritually with God. Heschel has also said that ‘shalom’, or peaceful fullness of living, is attained through the relationship we develop with God.
Martin Buber had an interesting take on the Sabbath by saying that it helps us rise beyond “I-and-It” to our complete being in “I and Thou” . If we choose to live rightly, then in the “chrysalis state of the It,” the “I and Thou” meet . The Sabbath is very similar to this when Heschel describes how we should look to the eternal world for guidance, and keep our minds true while enduring the days of labor. This is why the Sabbath help us to focus our minds towards God so that we can go forth throughout...