There is a Jewish tradition of making a brakha (blessing) over the ritual fringes that are commanded in the Torah:
While I was in college, I held many part-time jobs that allowed me to come in contact with many people I normally would not have come in contact with. While I was working at a printer cartridge re-manufacturing store, around the same time I was really shifting away from Christian thought and more into a Hebraic perspective of the Scriptures, I was fortunate enough to have a conversation one day with a certain customer who really shined new light on eating kosher. Interestingly enough, this man was a Christian. By Christian, I mean he probably believed that his salvation came from Jesus, but other than that, I bet this guy had been kicked out of a couple churches just by the way he spoke.
- Mammals that don’t both have a cloven hoof AND chew their cud
- Fish that don’t have both scales and fins
- Birds of prey
- Winged insects that go on all four besides those that have jointed legs above the feet for hopping
- Any reptiles or amphibians
- Pretty much any animals that eat other animals
If you were to ask someone who doesn’t keep Shabbat when Shabbat starts, even if they were knowledgeable of other cultures, they’d probably tell you that it starts Friday night at sundown. While this seems fairly feasible, if you were to ask someone who keeps Shabbat when Shabbat starts for them, they’d probably tell you that it starts Friday afternoon, Friday morning, or even possibly Thursday or Wednesday. I know it sounds really odd, but Shabbat wouldn’t be Shabbat without being prepared. In order to properly prepare for Shabbat, the Torah commands preparedness:
It is my theory that the reason why Christians see observant Jews as being so diametrically opposed to them because of their commitment to the Torah is, for the most part, dependent on the translation of one word linked to a theological concept.
Teshuvah is a continual process that each person works on every single day; all day long. The more teshuvah takes place, the easier it is until the commands of Torah become habitual and a part of everyday life. It can be extremely difficult at first, but grows easier with time and practice.
As an experiment, let’s see how reinserting this Hebrew concept back into some New Testament passages would force change in the lives of some Christians:
“Return to the Torah; the Kingdom of God is at hand.”
– Matthew 3:2
“So they (the disciples) went out and proclaimed that people should return to the Torah.”
– Mark 6:12
“No, I tell you; but unless you return to the Torah, you will all likewise perish.”
– Luke 13:2
– Acts 3:19
“Before his coming, John had proclaimed a baptism of returning to the Torah to all the people of Israel.”
– Acts 13:24
And this isn’t changing the meaning of the passage since the original meaning of “repent” in the spiritual sense was a returning to the Torah. Interesting perspective, ain’t it?
It is common for people, especially Americans, to sell short the Oneness of our Creator. At face value, the concept doesn’t seem all that exciting. There is only one God; big whoop, right? It is with this grade-school mindset of God’s Oneness that I would like to tackle and dismantle this description of God that has most likely made you bored of this post already.
A co-worker was walking by my desk one day and struck up a conversation with me. Somehow, we got on the subject of music and my band.
“But that’s gotta kinda suck that you can’t play shows on Friday nights because of the whole Jewish Sabbath thing.”
I didn’t really think about it too much before replying.
“No, actually it’s really nice to have a night off.”
Suddenly, the concept of a rest period came to mind even more. Most people who don’t keep Shabbat don’t really stop to think that people who keep it are called to rest on this day. Most of the time, these people just think about everything that the Torah forbids people from doing on Shabbat.
- I can’t go to my job.
- I can’t go shopping.
- I can’t conduct business.
- I can’t work mow my lawn or work on my house.
- I can’t go out on the town with friends.
- I can’t ignite a flame.
Really, when I stop and think about it, most people in society just simply do not stop. They perpetually have work on the brain. They are constantly being advertised to in order for them to purchase products. They are immersed in making sure their home is taken care of and rarely do they allot themselves a night with family where they can just sit down, talk about their week, crack jokes, tell stories, and laugh around the dinner table.
With this mindset, I would like to amend my list of “can’t”s into a slightly different style of list.
- I don’t have to go my job.
- I don’t have to go shopping.
- I don’t have to conduct any business dealings.
- I don’t have to mow my lawn or work on my house.
- I don’t have to go out; rather, I can have people over.
- I don’t even have to light a match.
Just because it occurs weekly, people seem to forget that the Sabbath is a holiday just as holy as the rest of the holy days in the Torah. For my Christian friends, imagine how you’d feel if your boss said you could have all the luxuries of xmas every week. Forget work; just have some friends over, cook up a big meal, and enjoy each other.
Shabbat is not one a day a week when I can’t do something. Shabbat is that one day a week that I look forward to all week long when I can put on my space helmet and blast off to another place far away from the chaos of the week.
Shabbat Shalom, everyone.