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6 years ago  ::  Apr 13, 2009 - 8:59AM #1
Kirad
Posts: 2

My school (a Christian seminary) has a “Sabbath Space” which is held in our chapel on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. During this time people can come in and engage in various spiritual practices, such as art, prayer, and lectio divina (sacred reading). I am curious about how a Jewish person feels about a Christian seminary having something called “Sabbath Space?” and whether it seems related to a Jewish understanding of sabbath?


 


Thanks


 

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6 years ago  ::  Apr 13, 2009 - 12:13PM #2
nieciedo
Posts: 5,617

Since Christians have their own concept of the Sabbath, I think it's up to them whatever they may wish to do with the term. It doesn't really impact us in any way I can tell.


I personally don't understand why they're doing a "Sabbath" anything on Wednesday and Thursday. Jews have been doing the Sabbath on Friday night to Saturday pretty much forever. Christians, who according to most orthodox theologians were never subject to the commands to observe the Sabbath in the first place, are exempt from the laws of the Torah through the new covenant in Christ and observe Sunday, the day of the Resurrection, as the "Lord's day."


From a practical standpoint, the purpose of a "Sabbath" is to provide a regularly scheduled break from the routine of struggling with life to pull back and enjoy life and focus on spiritual rather than worldly concerns. Whether one chooses to do that on Saturday, Sunday, or even Thursday the idea is sound and worthwhile.

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6 years ago  ::  Apr 19, 2009 - 9:33AM #3
NahumS
Posts: 1,769

The Hebrew word "Shabbat" means cessation. As a testimony to G-d's cessation of creation after 6 days, observant Jews refrain from physical creation on the seventh day. Freed from the burdens of work (defined by the various crafts used to build the desert tabernacle), the sabbath is a day of delight, holiness and rest - and suffused with spirituality, centered around public worship, Torah study and the family.


I don't mind Gentiles borrowing Jewish concepts that contribute to their spiritual lives - but I do expect proper attribution and a sincere attempt to study and understand the original meaning of the concept.


The Christian observance of Sunday as "the Lord's day" and calling it  "the Sabbath" is a bit disengenuous. I believe that the Saturday Sabbath was abandoned by Christians in order to distance themselves from Judaism. While Seventh Day Adventists refrain from paid labor and many other activities on the Sabbath, their observance is quite different from traditional Jewish observance.


In short - it sounds like setting aside time for creativity and spirituality is always a good idea - but I'm not sure that it has anything to do with the  sabbath.

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6 years ago  ::  Apr 19, 2009 - 10:41AM #4
nieciedo
Posts: 5,617

I have to disagree. If a Christian (or anyone else for that matter) wants to have a "Sabbath," I think they're free to make it whatever they want and I certainly don't think they have any obligation to study the Jewish Sabbath or give us credit for the concept. Are you going to insist that witches also attribute their Sabbats to our our concept?


Religious concepts are part of the collective cultural treasury of the human species. No one really has any exclusive right to ownership of the idea of a "Sabbath" so if someone wants to have a "Sabbath space" on Wednesday night, that's up to them. The only issue that could arise is if they decided to then claim that their "Sabbath" is the same as ours, or that theirs is the correct and true Sabbath and ours and other peoples Sabbath are wrong.

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6 years ago  ::  Apr 30, 2009 - 2:58AM #5
NahumS
Posts: 1,769

Witch's sabbaths have an entirely different background and have no connection, even linguistically, with Shabbat. Look it up, Dan.


Christians, however, often appropriate Jewish "intellectual property". That can be a good thing - our Holy Scriptures have made a huge difference in the world, largely thanks to Christian translations. We never have had the resources or the inclination to share this with the world on such a wide scale - at least before modern times.


All I suggest, to Christians who regard themselves part of the spiritual family of Abraham, is that they respect our tradition by having a basic understanding of our sources and understand how their adaptation of Jewish traditions or ideas may be different from the original. Such intellectual honesty and respect for sources would probably mitigate "replacement theology" or the kind of ignorance and arrogance that many Christians combat when they insist that it is essential to understand the Jewish roots of their own religion.


I had a very interesting discussion with Seventh Day Adventists on the Bnet boards about their Sabbath observance. I learned a lot about how they make the 7th day holy - and I think that they came to understand the uniqueness of the traditional Jewish Sabbath. That's what is so special about this opportunity. None of us would have likely met in the "real world", for geographical and cultural reasons. This was a unique opportunity to learn.

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