Thoughts on the Sabbath

I recently started reading through a book about Judaism called “This is My God” by Herman Wouk. Being that Wouk is a Jew, I honestly believe he has a better grasp of what true Sabbath is than I do. And after reading the section about the Sabbath I really feel like he hits on some things that I know that I need to take to heart. I thought about restating the things that I learned in my own words but I think it may be better suited if I just explain them by letting Wouk say it in his own words so bellow I’ve quoted Wouk with my own writing to give just enough context for it to be understood. I hope that it may just as encouraging and challenging to you as it was for me.

“Our Sabbath opens with blessings over light and wine. Light and wine are keys to the day. Our observance has its solemnities, but the main effect is release, peace, gaiety, and lifted spirits”

His boss once said to Wouk “I don’t envy your religion but I envy your Sabbath”

If someone was too poor to afford bread and wine for the Sabbath “the synagogue gave it him these things if he could not afford them”

In the ancient times, “of course Sabbath rules were laws of religion, not of convention. But they were so familiar that they were the very air of life rather than self-consciously executed disciplines. There was no grain for them to go against. They were the grain”

“The Sabbath is the only Jewish symbol you will find in the Ten Commandments

“All countries celebrate their coming into being with a work stoppage and ceremonies. The Jews, who believe that God created the universe, celebrate it’s coming into being and give thanks to it’s maker once a week. “

The Sabbath marks not only the creation with God’s rest but also the freedom from slavery in Egypt remembering this Wouk says, “slaves have no choice in the matter of work or rest; they are talking beasts, subject to the masters will. The creation is not in their hands. Time is not theirs to apportion.

“This demanding rite turns twenty-four hours of every week into a separated time, apart in mood, texture and acts from daily existence”

“All planning relates to creation day: plans of work, travel, of leisure, even a place to live”

“Those who keep the day inevitably have the ideas of creation and of creator, of exodus and Jewish identity, strongly in mind”

“The Sabbath is the seal of partnership between God and man in the rule of creation”

“The Sabbath is the beginning of mans imitation of God”

I hope this is challenging to you, it was to me. Take some time dwell in this because after all as Wouk explains the Sabbath is one the three positive Ten Commandments “worship God, honor your parents, and keep the Sabbath”


  1. It is interesting to note that in all of the great revivals of the past, one of the foremost things that emerged with the spiritual awakening of the people, along with their repentance from sin and awareness of their accountability to a Holy God, was that the Sabbath came to the forefront in their lives from then on. It was a lasting facet of those communities affected by Revival. Indeed, on the Isle of Lewis in the Scottish Hebrides, it is still a noticable difference in the Island’s way of life, that the place is essentially closed on a Sunday. And that is over 60 years after the Revival!

  2. Great reminder in a world that pushes us to fill our lives with activity. We don’t naturally want to stop but it is in the stopping and disconnecting that we are reminded of who runs the world.

    Another great read on the subject of Sabbath is “The Rest of God” by Mark Buchanan.

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