Quotes from Abraham Heschel’s book The Sabbath

Quotes from Abraham Heschel’s book The Sabbath

Quotes from Abraham Heschel's The Sabbath

One of my book groups just read Abraham Heschel’s book The Sabbath, considered by many to be a Jewish classic on the topic. Rather than review this esteemed book, I thought I’d share with you my favorite, lyrical bits from it:

  • “Judaism is a religion centrally concerned with holiness in time.”
  • “The seventh day is a palace in time which we build. It is made of soul, of joy and reticence. In its atmosphere, a discipline is a reminder of adjacency to eternity.”
  • “It must always be remembered that the Sabbath is not an occasion for diversion or frivolity; not a day to shoot fireworks or to turn somersaults, but an opportunity to mend our tattered lives; to collect rather than to dissipate time. Labor without dignity is the cause of misery; rest without spirit the source of depravity.”
  • “Time is like a wasteland. It has grandeur but no beauty. Its strange, frightful power is always feared but rarely cheered. When we arrive at the seventh day, and the Sabbath is endowed with a felicity which enraptures the soul, which glides into our thoughts with a healing sympathy. It is a day on which hours do not oust one another. It is a day that can soothe all sadness away.”
  • “The seventh day is like a palace in time with a kingdom for all. It is not a date but an atmosphere.”
  • “It is a day that ennobles the soul and makes the body wise.”
  • “The work on weekdays and the rest on the seventh day are correlated. The Sabbath is the inspirer, the other days the inspired.”
  • “The Sabbath is the day on which we learn the art of surpassing civilization.”
  • “It is a sin to be sad on the Sabbath day.”
  • “The Sabbath, thus, is more than an armistice, more than an interlude; it is a profound conscious harmony of man and the world, a sympathy for all things and a participation in the spirit that unites what is below and what is above. All that is divine in the world is brought into union with God. This is Sabbath, and the true happiness of the universe.”
  • “The Sabbath is a bride, and its celebration is like a wedding.”

One of the ten commandments is to keep the Sabbath holy. Is this something you do? How do you observe the Sabbath?

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  1. LOREE A. OGAN 4 years ago

    I am spending today AWAY from business and devoting the whole day to renewal. The book made an
    impact on me!

    • Author
      Polly Castor 4 years ago


  2. Joseph D Herring 4 years ago

    This is a belated response to the posting on Rabbi Heschel’s ” The Sabbath.” When my first term paper came due in spring, 1962, I decided to write on something ” Jewish .” I read a lot, but couldn’t focus on a topic. A senior on his way to the rabbinate recommended ” The Sabbath.” I found it in the library stacks and couldn’t put it down. A few days later, Rabbi Heschel came to Hanover to give a lecture intended for seniors. I managed to attend , and speak to him after his lecture. That brief conversation was an important element in my decision to seek ordination.

    • Author
      Polly Castor 4 years ago


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