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November 15, 2002 - Image 114

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-11-15

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Arts

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11/15

2002

82

Book examines origins and purpose of Shabbat,
as well as its meaning for our hurried lives.

SANDEE B RAWARS KY
Special to the Jewish News

lives, and also at an auspicious moment
on the Jewish calendar.
With the long series of fall holidays
completed, this is a good time to refo-
cus attention on the holy day that
arrives every week.
Klagsbrun is the author of more than
a dozen books, including, most recent-
ly, Jewish Days: A Book of Jewish

Culture Around the Year; Mixed
Feelings: Love, Hate, Rivalry and
Reconciliation Among Brothers and
Sisters, Married People: Staying Together
in the Age of Divorce; and Voices of
Wisdom: Jewish Ideals and Ethics for
Everyday Life. She was the editor of the
best-selling book Free to Be ... You and
Me, by Marlo Thomas and friends.

Commandment: Remember the Sabbath
Day (Harmony Books; $24), award-
winning writer Francine Klagsbrun
explores deeply beneath the images
and symbols of the seventh day to
describe its complex religious, philo-
sophical and mystical underpinnings.
Women At The Center
Klagsbrun is a lovely writer and a
In her prologue, Klagsbrun writes
very good teacher. The book is
beautifully about light,
thoughtful and informa-
both a metaphor and an
tive, packed full of laws,
intrinsic element of the
customs, interpretations,
Sabbath.
history and lore. It is based
"For Jews, light sur-
on her research in biblical
rounds the Sabbath like
and talmudic sources and
parentheses, enclosing this
commentaries, midrash,
time and setting it apart
ethical teachings, biblical
from the rest of the week.
scholarship and Kabbalah.
Simple white candles
Fluent in Hebrew, she
usher in the day and a col-
did much of her research
Sabbat6 Day
orful twisted candle escorts
in original sources. It's not
it out, the one announcing
a "how-to" book on the
the stoppage of all creative
Sabbath but a guide rich in A contemporary look
activity, the other its
meaning. She also inter-
at a cornerstone of
beginning again."
jects personal anecdotes,
Jewish -life.
She discusses the
describing her lifelong ties
Sabbath light in terms of
to Sabbath observance.
awe and mystery, and how
The Fourth
it ties to creation and also
Commandment is an
to the Creator. Historically, she shows
important contribution to the litera-
how the activity of kindling a Sabbath
ture of the Sabbath, joining Rabbi
Eve lamp shifted from being a matter
Abraham Joshua Heschel's landmark
of practicality to law, requiring a bless-
The
Sabbath,
and
meditative work,
other books that focus on laws or prac- ing, and how the source 9f light
evolved from oil lamps to candles.
tical issues. Klagsbrun's work stands
For Klagsbrun, the holiness of time
out by including a women's perspective
and of space on the Sabbath are com-
on the day, looking at traditional roles
plementary. She cites Rabbi Abraham
and mystical themes about the
Joshua
Heschel's teachings — he was
Shekhinah, the feminine aspect of God.
her teacher — about the sacredness of
The book is timely in a number of
time and believes that he, too, did not
ways.
negate the importance of place,
It's published at a time when, ironi-
cally, technological advances have made although she takes it further.
In her chapter "Women at the
people feel more harried and time-pres-
Center: The Mystical Shabbat,"
sured than before, perhaps more than
Klagsbrun explains how the feminine
ever in need of a sacred pause in their

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