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“Creation is Meaningful Only When We Stop”

September 3, 2009

I have been working on a piece for my church lately about Sabbath, and in this process, have come across some truly fascinating ideas and thoughts on this particular spiritual practice (far more than I could cram into a 450 to 500 word article].

My fine friend across the continents, David, sent me this article from the New York Times this morning, and I wanted to share it, especially this ending passage:

(Painting, “Haymakers Resting” by Pissarro)

“Whenever I dream of living in a society with a greater respect for its Sabbatarian past — a fantasy I entertain only with anxiety, since Sabbatarians have a long history of going too far — I think of something two rabbis said. Rabbi Judah Loew of Prague, best known for his tales of the golem, pointed out that the story of Creation was written in such a way that each day, each new creation, is seen as a step toward a completion that occurred on the Sabbath. What was Creation’s climactic culmination? The act of stopping. Why should God have considered it so important to stop? Rabbi Elijah of Vilna put it this way: God stopped to show us that what we create becomes meaningful to us only once we stop creating it and start to think about why we did so. The implication is clear. We could let the world wind us up and set us to marching, like mechanical dolls that go and go until they fall over, because they don’t have a mechanism that allows them to pause. But that would make us less than human. We have to remember to stop because we have to stop to remember.”

[Passage excerpt by Judith Shulevitz, from the article, “Bringing Back the Sabbath” from the New York Times, March 2, 2003]

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 3, 2009 9:01 pm

    Hey I listened to a sermon by Tim Keller recently in which he quotes that article by Shulevitz! Small world.

  2. Caroline permalink*
    September 4, 2009 9:51 am

    @ Victor!

    No way! What’s the chances. 🙂 It really is a stellar article — it was interesting to read it from a Jewish perspective. I need to listen to some of TK’s sermons sometime. I’ve read “Prodigal God,” but that’s all my experience of him.

    Congrats on the new job, by the way! HC and I miss ya.

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