Rabbi Avi Weiss on Shabbat as an exploration of the beauty Judaism can bring to the home and family life
I asked his view about making a Jewish home, something that is elementary to the raising of Jewish children. He described his approach as an exploration of the beauty Judaism can bring to the home and family life: “Take the Sabbath…. Abraham Joshua Heschel talks about how we live in a world of technical civilization. And certainly, to be successful in this world is something very important in Torah.” But Heschel describes the way “acquisition of things of space” comes at the expense of time. Weiss quoted Heschel’s beautiful line: “‘Yet to have does not mean to be more.’ Having is not being. And, as I see it, six days of the week are days of having, aspiring to have. And that’s noble. But, for one day during the week, let’s focus not on having, but on being. Let’s focus not so much on existence, but on essence. Let’s focus on: What’s the purpose of this all?
Why am I working for six days? So we need a sabbatical day…. It’s that time where I can sit down with my family, without a TV, without a radio, where I’m not being acted upon, where I can interact with those who are closest to me. It’s hard work. It takes a lot of energy. But it’s often the case that what is hard work is most meaningful.”
Edgar M. Bronfman and Beth Zasloff, Hope, Not Fear: A Path to Jewish Renaissance (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2008), 56.