Friday, January 11, 2008

Everybody & his cousin on R. Student's post re Shabbat

Here’s the original post “Shabbos Elevator Pitch,” by Rabbi Gil Student of Hirhurim. The following is an excerpt thereof:

“In R. Yaakov horowitz's latest column (link), he quotes a woman who describes the beauty of Shabbos in that it is 1) a time to be with family, 2) a time to unwind and 3) grow closer to God. I believe that only two of these three reasons have support from medieval authorities.

R. Sa'adia Ga'on (Emunos Ve-Dei'os 3:2) lists the following logical reasons for Shabbos and holidays, which he believes is generally about obedience to God but has secondary reasons as well:

1. to rest from work

2. to spend time acquiring wisdom

3. for extended prayer

4. to meet with others to study religion

I find it noteworthy that he did not include in his list anything about family gatherings and spending time together.

. . . .

. . . a further question is whether we have the right to offer a reason that earlier authorities omitted.”

At last sighting, there were 72 comments to this post.

But wait, there’s more.

Here’s a quote from DovBear’s post in response (42 comments, last I looked):

"And finally the kicker: "Be that as it may, I prefer to stick to the reasons for the mitzvos found in the sources." Does this mean Gil will no longer allow himself to enjoy his family on shabbos? That he'll feel guilty about doing so because its not one of the benefits Saadya Gaon listed 1000 years ago?

Is this post for real??"

Here’s a peek at Ezzie’s post in response (13 comments, thus far):

“For many, rest from work is spending time with one's family. It is this family time which allows them to truly relax and enjoy the Shabbos. Moreover, as shown from R' Horowitz's piece, it is this family time which nowadays seems to have one of the strongest effects on people's strengthening of religion.”

And finally (?—there may be other posts that I missed), MOChassid chimes in (7 comments at the moment):

"Talk about missing the forest for the trees.

Honestly, I can't even fathom the point Gil is trying to make. To even raise it in the context of Rabbi Horowitz's article suggests a tin-ear of Biblical proportions.

Rabbi Horowitz's whole point is that in order to battle "Walmart" (Rabbi Horowitz's mashal for the internet) we need to make Shabbos warmer, more peaceful and more attractive to our children. With all due respect, having these kinds of intellectual discussions about reasons for Shabbos is the LAST thing we should be doing.

My advice? Let's gather 'round our table on Friday night and sing a few niggunim. You don't even have to bang the table."

Amen to that! Less theory, more practice!


Blogger Sheyna said...

Disclaimer: I haven't read the entire article nor any of the follow-up posts or comments; only what you've written above. So I could be totally off base. But something occurred to me here.

The four medieval secondary reasons are all things that every Jew could be expected to do on Shabbat, all of which contribute to the mitzvah of observing Shabbat. In other words, they're expectations, not just reasons.

Spending time with family is not something that every Jew can be expected to do, as not every Jew has family with whom to be. Nor is there a guarantee that any given Jew's family is a healthy sort of environment in which to be.

It's a wonderful byproduct of Shabbat, but it cannot be an expectation, and consequently I can see why it would not be listed as a reason either.

Tue Jan 15, 05:08:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

I commented on both R. Student's blog and on DovBear's that I wondered how many of the traditional secondary reasons for Shabbat would be readily available to a mother of young children who, in the Orthodox community, would enable her husband to fulfill the mitzvot/commandments by keeping an eye on the kids. How much time for extended prayer or study would "she" have? Could *every* Jew be expected to do this on Shabbat, or mostly the male ones?

On the other hand, Sheyna, you do have a point about not everyone having a "healthy" family, or any family at all, with whom to enjoy Shabbat. Your comment reminds me about Esther Kustanowitz's view of Shabbat as a single.

Tue Jan 15, 10:03:00 PM 2008  

Post a Comment

<< Home

<< List
Jewish Bloggers
Join >>