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Shabbat quotes

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“Anybody can observe the Sabbath, but making it holy surely takes the rest of the week.”

– Alice Walker

“The seventh day is a place in time which we build. It is made of soul, of joy and reticence.”

– Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel


“One can say without exaggeration that more than the Jewish People have kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jews.”

– Ahad Ha’am


“The commandment to sanctify Shabbat was the first call to humanity at large for real equality. And the first summons for freeing man from the bondage of man, for freeing man from himself, from the routine of work. This was the first significant taste of freedom and equality. And this taste has never faded since.”

– Shimon Peres


“As we keep or break the Sabbath day, we nobly save or merely lose the last and best hope by which man arises.”

– Abraham Lincoln


“Call Shabbat a Delight (Isiah 58:13), means a delight for both body and soul, a delight for celestial and earthly realms.”

– Talmud Yerushalmi, Kiddushin 4:12


“Jewish Law is like musical notation; it gives meaning to the stuff of life by regulating it in time. The Sabbath is its most sacred interval” – Judith Shulevitz


"Sabbath has a flavor of Paradise about it."

– Talmud, Berakhot


"The Sabbath and holidays are the primary reason for Jewish endurance and glory."

– Judah Halevi


"The Sabbath is a day of rest, of mental scrutiny and of balance. Without it the workdays are insipid."

– Chaim Nachman Bialik


“Why should the Torah begin with Shabbat?  I am not concerned here with the question of whether this is the precise spoken word of God or the wisdom of our ancient sages.  The point of the story is to proclaim that as soon as there were human beings, there had to be Shabbat.  Human life is just inconceivable without Shabbat.  That is one of the great truths of Judaism, something we still need to teach the world. “

– Rabbi Art Green


“But the Torah gives us the right, even the obligation, to partake of God’s rest. ‘A day of rest and holiness have You given to Your people,’ we say in the Shabbat afternoon service.  Notice that menuhah, rest, comes first here, before kedushah, holiness.”

– Rabbi Art Green


The great doors of Shabbat are swinging

open over the ocean, loosing the moon

floating up slow distorted vast, a copper

balloon just sailing free.

– Marge Piercy from “Wellfleet Shabbat”


“Every person needs to take one day away.  A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future...  Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.”

– Maya Angelou


“The meaning of the Sabbath is to celebrate time rather than space. Six days a week we live under the tyranny of things of space; on the Sabbath we try to become attuned to holiness in time. It is a day on which we are called upon to share in what is eternal in time, to turn from the results of creation to the mystery of creation; from the world of creation to the creation of the world.”

– Abraham Joshua Heschel


“The Sabbath is a weekly cathedral raised up in my dining room, in my family, in my heart.”

– Anita Diamant

“Like a path through the forest, Sabbath creates a marker for ourselves so, if we are lost, we can find our way back to our center.”

– Wayne Muller


“For fast acting relief, try slowing down.“

– Lily Tomlin


“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.”

– Ovid


"Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths."

– Etty Hillesum


“Dwell as near as possible to the channel in which your life flows.”

– Thoreau


“No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it.”

– Albert Einstein


“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin


"Sometimes I believe as many as 6 impossible things before breakfast."

– Alice (in Wonderland)


"By being what only I can be, I give humanity what only I can give."

– Rabbi Jonathan Sacks


“When you set out on a journey and night covers the road, that's when you discover the stars."

– Nancy Willard


"To experience peace does not mean that your life is always blissful. It means that you are capable of tapping into a blissful state of mind amidst the normal chaos of a hectic life"

– Jill Bolte Taylor

"Everybody loves something, even if it's only tortillas."

– Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche


"All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware."

– Martin Buber


"Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you, because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in the magic will never find it!"

– Roald Dahl


"Another day is on her way. If you listen quietly, you can hear her breathing."

– Arundhati Roy


“There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story.”

– Linda Hogan


“God’s first language is silence. Everything else is a translation.”

– Thomas Keating


“Even when the soul is seared, even when no prayer can come out of our tightened throats, the clean, silent rest of the Sabbath leads us to a realm of endless peace, or the beginning of an awareness of what eternity means.”

– Abraham Joshua Heschel


“Sabbath is that uncluttered time and space in which we can distance ourselves from our own activities enough to see what God is doing.”

– Eugene Peterson


“The Sabbath is the day on which we learn the art of surpassing civilization.”

– Abraham Joshua Heschel

“Tell me the secret of Shabbat, I said to my teacher. The secret of Shabbat is the secret of unity, he said. The inner and the outer one. The separations gone. He told it to me as if he were reading it off the wind above his head. The secret of Shabbat is that the deep swallows the artificial, the inner subsumes the outer. I need meaning. It completes me. That is the secret of Shabbat.”

– Rabbi James Stone Goodman


“Shabbat is committed to your keeping, not you to its keeping.”

– Babylonian Talmud, Yoma 85b


“‘Six days you will labor and do all your work’ (Exodus 20:9). But is it possible for us to do all our work in six days? Rather, we should rest as though all our work were finished.”

– Midrash M’chilta, Yitro 7


“What feels sensuous between your fingertips? Wear it. What is your favorite Jewish melody? Sing it. What helps you feel safe, snug, healthy, and home? Bring it. Which people sweeten time when with you? Invite them.”

– Rabbi Goldie Milgram


“There is not a thing that is more positive than bread.”

– Fyodor Dostoevsky


“If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.”

– Robert Browning


“There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.”

– Mahatama Gandhi


“Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words.”

– Plautus


"Drinking good wine with good food in good company is one of life's most civilized pleasures."

– Michael Broadbent


“Wine is just a conversation waiting to happen.”

– Jessica Altieri


"Stop a moment, cease your work, look around you."

— Leo Tolstoy

"אמר לו הקב"ה למשה: מתנה טובה יש לי בבית גנזי ושבת שמה, אני מבקש ליתנה לישראל, לך והודיעם" (שבת י' ע"ב).

The Gemara (Shabbos 10b) states that God told Moses, “I have a wonderful gift in My treasure house and Shabbat is its name and I wish to give it to the Jewish People. Go and inform them.”


“The Talmud (Beitzah 16) describes the transition from “six days of work” to holiness as a moment when a person cracks open and cries out ‘Oy Vay! Where has my soul been all week?’ … Shabbat becomes the moment when a person catches themselves and suddenly realizes: Where have I been all week? How can I collect myself now and become present in my life?”

– Rabbi Mishael Zion


“Shabbat is a receptacle for yearning, the most essential yet overlooked of human emotions… Shabbat, as an idea and a practice, in its rituals, in its melodies and in its history, represents a day of longing, a day in which the self can be felt, can be brought into being.”

– Rabbi Mishael Zion


“Shabbat is ‘utopia now,’ because on it we create, for twenty-five hours a week, a world in which there are no hierarchies, no employers and employees, no buyers and sellers, no inequalities of wealth or power, no production, no traffic, no din of the factory or clamor of the marketplace, no texts or tweets or other distractions that rob us of our rest and poise. It’s a dress-rehearsal for the messianic age. Shabbat is a pre-enactment of the world as we hope it will be at the end of time.”

– Rabbi Jonathan Sacks


“Shabbat is when, individually and collectively, we experience ‘the still point of the turning world,’ a pause between symphonic movements, a break between the chapters of our days, an equivalent in time of the open countryside between towns where you can feel the breeze and hear the songs of the birds. It is the working out of Judaism’s vision of a society of equal dignity and hope. It’s about refusing to capitulate to the pressures of being on-call 24/7. It’s when we let the spirit breathe.”

– Rabbi Jonathan Sacks


“Part of making Shabbat [dinner] personal and authentic is taking on ritual and exploring its meaning, not just as rote words and choreography, but as a sort of spiritual technology that accomplishes something we can’t do on our own.“

– Aliza Kline and Rabbi Jessica Minnen

“On Shabbat we act as if the world is whole, we imagine what living in a perfected world, society, community and self could look like. We develop our moral imagination, creating a space where the ideal world can feel within reach for a moment – and then together we yearn to be in such a world.”

– Rabbi Mishael Zion


“Given the divisiveness in our country and on our campuses, Shabbat [dinner] can become a platform for building community among different people.”

– Aliza Kline and Rabbi Jessica Minnen


“One of the most rewarding moments of a difficult hike is when I remove my heavy backpack after a tough climb and let my body collapse against a tree trunk, rock, or mossy area on the side of the path. The minutes spent at these rest stops are some of the most memorable and gratifying of the hike. Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, is just such a rest stop.”

– David Jaffe

“All of Shammai’s days were dedicated to the food with which he would honor Shabbat. If he found an animal which seemed like a good source for meat for Shabbat he would purchase it. If he subsequently came across an even better animal he would consume the first one and put aside the second one for Shabbat. In this manner he would each day be on the lookout for Shabbat preparation. Hillel, on the other hand, had complete confidence that Heaven would provide him before Shabbat with what he required. He lived by the faith of King David’s words (Tehillim 68:20): Blessed is G-d Who provides us with our needs day by day.”

– Talmud Beitzah 16a

“The Sabbath is the presence of God in the world, open to the soul of man. God is not in things of space, but in moments of time.”

– Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel


ושמרו בני ישראל את השבת, לעשות את השבת לדורותם, ברית עולם. ביני, ובין בני ישראל אות היא לעולם. כי ששת ימים, עשה ה' את השמיים ואת הארץ, וביום השביעי שבת ויינפש.

“And the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested"

– Exodus, 31: 16-17


“The Sabbath is entirely independent of the month and unrelated to the moon. Its date is not determined by any event in nature, such as the new moon, but by the act of creation. Thus the essence of the Sabbath is completely detached from the world of space. The meaning of the Sabbath is to celebrate time rather than space. Six days a week we live under the tyranny of things of space; on the Sabbath we try to become attuned to holiness in time. It is a day on which we are called upon to share in what is eternal in time, to turn from the results of creation to the mystery of creation; from the world of creation to the creation of the world.”

– Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

“The moment one gives close attention to any thing, even a blade of grass it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.”
— Henry Miller

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