We are reading:
Abraham Joshua Heschel
Reading: Introduction (by Susanah Heschel) and Prologue (pages i – 11)
Facilitator: Susan Adams
Susan compiled the following discussion questions, and will be facilitating our conversation in the comments below.
These questions are intended to get conversation rolling. Please feel free to ask your own questions, or make your own observations, about this week’s reading in the comment section below.
1. As you read Susannah Heschel’s description of her family’s Sabbath practices and ways of being (in the Introduction), what images, feelings, or thoughts come to mind for you? Why do these matter to you?
2. How do the Heschel family’s Sabbath practices and ways of being compare and contrast with your own understandings of Sabbath? What new dispositions, practices or perspectives do you encounter here? What will you do with them?
3. On page xiv, Susannah Heschel says, “In the Bible, no thing or place is holy by itself; not even the Promised Land is called holy. While the holiness of the land and of festivals depends on the actions of the Jewish people, who have to sanctify them, the holiness of the Sabbath, [her father] writes, preceded the holiness of Israel. Even if people fail to observe the Sabbath, it remains holy.” Do you agree? Why or why not?
4. Susannah Heschel says, “Creating Shabbat begins with a sense of longing. Strikingly, my father turns our expectations around. It is not we who long for a day of rest, but the Sabbath spirit that is lonely and longs for us” (p. xv). What do you make of this? What application of this idea might you make for your own life?
5. Heschel says “The sanctity of time came first, the sanctity of man came second, and the sanctity of space last. Time was hallowed by God; space, the Tabernacle, was consecrated by Moses” (p. 10). What do you think he means by this?
6. What does Heschel mean when he says, “The meaning of the Sabbath is to celebrate time rather than space” (p. 10)?
7. Why do so many Christians read Heschel’s book on Sabbath? What benefit or new learning do you expect to experience as you read? What connections between the present season of Lent and Sabbath do you potentially see?
Logistics of our Conversation:
Our conversation will unfold in the comment section below. Feel free to answer any of the above questions or to ask your own questions or add your observations about the reading. If you are adding a new question / observation, please do so as a new comment, not as a reply to another comment. If you are responding to someone else’s comment, please use “REPLY” instead of responding in a new top-level comment.
If you have not left a comment on the ERB website before, your first comment will have to be moderated, and may take up to 24 hours to appear. But once you have an approved comment, you will generally be able to post without moderation.
Feel free to disagree with other participants, but do so with gentleness and respect. Comments that do not follow this rule of thumb may be deleted.
Check in often to see how the conversation is going. (Unfortunately, we do not have the technological capacity to email you when new comments are added)
About our facilitator:
Susan Adams is a member of Englewood Christian Church and Associate Professor of Education at Butler University in Indianapolis. A former high school teacher, Susan earned her Ph.D. in Literacy, Culture, and Language in Education from Indiana University. Susan’s publications are included in Theory into Practice, English Journal, SAGE Sociology of Education, EBSCO Research Starters, and The New Educator. Her book, Race and Pedagogy: Creating Collaborative Spaces for Teacher Transformations (2016) was co-authored with Jamie Buffington-Adams.