.... He explains religious practice, but also his childhood memories and secular rituals (bringing flowers home on Friday), all of which cast Shabbat in a special light. He said that the title of the book — “The Gift of Rest” — is taken from the Talmud. “What started out as a commandment I experience as a gift. It wasn’t always that way. As a kid I wished I had gone to ballgames and theme parks with my friends.”Joe Lieberman Interview (Part 1): The Gift of Rest - Right Turn - The Washington Post
But as an adult he’s come to look forward to it and enjoy all of its pleasures. He writes in the book. “For me, Sabbath observance is a gift because it is one of the deepest, purest pleasures in my life. It is a day of peace, rest and sensual pleasure. . . . [I]t engages the senses — sight, sound, taste, smell and touch — with beautiful setting, soaring melodies, wonderful food and wine and lots of love.” He tells me that voters and his colleagues “know what I don’t do — work — but they don’t know what I do” on Shabbat. He wants to dispel the notion that Shabbat is “a day of denial or seclusion. It does of course have serious moments.” But, he says with a grin, “By and by we have a great time.”
His book conveys that far from a passive exercise, Shabbat, and the preparations before it, are jammed with activity — special meals, synagogue services, time with friends, reading for pleasure, walks and time with family. ....
Not everyone will follow all the Shabbat rituals and requirements, he says. But in writing the book, “I was just hoping you’ll start.” To that end he provides a listing at the end of each chapter of easy steps and activities you can adopt. (Turn off the BlackBerry. Go outside. Eat dinner in your dining room, rather than the everyday kitchen.) The book is not only for Jews, and many of the non-liturgical elements can be applied to Christian Sabbath worship as well.
The book also explain the rules and choices concerning breaking of Shabbat and when Lieberman has chosen to depart from his gift of rest. That, however, is not the focus of the book. It is rather a loving guide and inspiration to enjoy a day separated from our ordinary demands. The psychological and theological insight is that by excluding workday cares for one day, you find that the rest of your days become richer and more fulfilling. .... [more]
Sunday, September 25, 2011
The gift of rest
Jennifer Rubin devoted the first part of her interview with Sen. Joe Lieberman to his new book, The Gift of Rest: Rediscovering the Beauty of the Sabbath. From the interview: