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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 20, 2006 / 20 Teves, 5766

Joe on the Plane and the Meaning of Sabbath

By Rabbi David Fohrman


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The first in a series of five articles



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The idea of the Sabbath — as central as it is within Judaism — is introduced for the very first time in the Torah in just a few short verses. If you're not careful, you'll miss it entirely.


And it's not just the Biblical text that can easily pass us by. The experience of the Sabbath itself is also something that can elude us. It, too, can simply pass us by.


When I say "us", here, I am not talking about those who have never had the opportunity to observe a traditional Sabbath. I am talking about even the most "orthodox" among us. Ironically, the more punctiliously one observes the Sabbath, the more one can tend to "take it for granted". It just becomes part of the weekly routine. We refrain from performing "Sabbath labor" almost instinctively. The light switch, the telephone, the car — we Orthodox Jews avoid these on the Sabbath without a second thought. It seems as natural to stay away from these things on the Seventh Day, as it does to use them during the week.


So it can seem surprising to us "Sabbath Insiders" when someone from "outside the system" questions the meaning of our day of rest. Imagine yourself a fine, upstanding Orthodox Jew for a minute. You are taking one of those cross-country flights from NYC to Los Angeles, and a nice, clean-cut fellow we'll call Joe settles in next to you. About fifteen minutes after takeoff, Joe introduces himself, and after some initial pleasantries, he gets down to business.


"You seem to be an Orthodox Jew... You know, I'm a Jew, too, but not the Orthodox kind."


He continues a little sheepishly: "Look, I hope you're not offended if I ask, but, you keep this day of rest, the Sabbath, every Saturday, right?"


You nod your head and reach for the peanuts, a little suspicious about where this conversation is going.


"See I never understood this Sabbath deal", Joe confesses to you. "The Bible says you are supposed to rest because G-d rested after creating the world. But if G-d is All-Powerful, if He can literally do anything, well, how much effort was it for Him to create the world? You know, it wasn't like he was tired afterwards. So how come He had to rest?"

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You glance at your watch. Five hours left to the flight. And it's a full plane. No chance to change seats now.


Joe breaks the awkward silence.


"I hope you don't mind my imposing on you like this", he says, a little apologetically. You glance up at him, give him a nervous smile and tell him that it's OK, he can continue if he likes.


He jumps at the opportunity:


"Well that's great — thanks so much for hearing me out. You know, I have one other question, if you don't mind. Just a little one". He shows you exactly how small with the tiny space he makes between his thumb and forefinger. You nod, and he continues.


"I've been reading the Bible a little, and the Bible says we are supposed to rest on the Sabbath. But a couple years back I was a guest for the weekend at this fellow's home — his name was Shmuely; he was Orthodox, too, just like you..."


Joe points to your yarmulke to help you get the point, then he continues:


" Anyway, the Friday night meal was about to start and I noticed it was dark in the room. Someone forgot to turn on the lights before sundown. So I reach for the light switch, and it was like, whoa! I was about to do some really awful thing. The little kid next to me catches my arm and says no you can't do that. Everyone around the table is just trying to get me to back away from the light switch, like it was a gun or something. And I ask, you know, 'what's wrong with turning on a little light'. Everybody starts getting very nervous and tells me that its work to turn on the light. You're not allowed to work on Shabbes."


"It seemed a little strange to me, but I accepted it," Joe tells you. "Who was I to argue? But then the next day, they invited some extra company for the afternoon meal, and they had to bring another table into the dining room. And Shmuely, my host, asks me if I wouldn't mind helping him drag a table up from the basement. So I helped him. But I'll tell you, it was a pretty heavy table. That was not an easy trip up the stairs."


Joe concludes: "Shmuely seemed a little embarrassed and was telling me something about how dragging a table isn't one of the forbidden 'categories of labor'. I told him not to worry, I didn't mind. But I'm thinking to myself, Why isn't that called 'labor'? Boy, it's a lot more work to carry the table than it is to turn on a little light switch!' I didn't ask that question then, but I'm asking you now. Can you help me out with any of this?"


Joe waits earnestly for his answer. You look at your watch one more time and take a deep breath. It's going to be a very long flight.


What would you tell good ol' Joe? How could you make the Shabbes that you experience weekly become meaningful to him? Sure, you could tell him about cholent and the wonders of a Shabbes nap; you could even explain to him how nice and peaceful it seems to have a day when you don't have to worry about answering the phone during dinner. But that's not really going to answer Joe's questions. How could you really explain any of this to him?


We'll come back next week and compare notes.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes inspirational articles. Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Rabbi David Fohrman directs the Hoffberger Foundation for Torah Studies, and is an adjunct professor at the Johns Hopkins University, where he teaches Biblical Themes. He has also authored several volumes of the ArtScroll Talmud.

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© 2006, Rabbi David Fohrman