“People will observe the Shabbas if it actually works for them”

I am actually not interested in simply furthering that we represent the Jewish people. I understand that it was a blip, a modern blip, exacerbated by the Holocaust, the Jewish peoplehood and “more than the Jews kept the Shabbas, the Shabbas kept the Jews” – that’s just a lie. It’s okay, I appreciate it, but for Jews who stopped keeping the Shabbas, it’s wonderful rhetoric, but it has nothing to do with how people function. People will observe the Shabbas if it actually works for them in their life to help them flourish. They’re not going to keep it because it keep them. I love the rhetoric and so I’m interested in shifting the balance – and I think this is great for rabbis – from Jewish peoplehood to actually Torah, to the wisdom and practice.

Rabbi Irwin Kula, “Texts Without Borders”, Rabbis Without Borders Fellowship, Third Cohort, Session #1 (Clal: New York City, 8 November 2011).

One comment to ““People will observe the Shabbas if it actually works for them””
  1. Or perhaps if a Jew decides to experience keeping Shabbat, that maybe the experience would attract them back to Judaism? Interestingly enough, not too long ago I wrote a whole post about the power that Shabbat holds for many.


    Additionally, something that observant Jews throughout time clung to when they were not supposed to be practicing Judaism was keeping Shabbat. I’ve heard numerous stories about Jews in labor camps in White Russia while the iron wall was up who refused to do work on Shabbat. The same with the Holocaust. Jews have risked their lives throughout history for many things, including keeping Shabbat. Shabbat could then be considered “keeping the Jews,” it’s something that they all used to unite themselves in and out of oppression, something that they used to keep their Judaism alive and their sanity.

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