Senator Joe Lieberman’s book, The Gift of Rest: Rediscovering the Beauty of the Sabbath, is a work of loveliness that is embracing in many facets.
Senator Lieberman is a devoted and an observant and practicing Jew, and a man who takes time out of his extremely hectic schedule to celebrate Shabbat, whether in synagogue or home, and celebrate the gift of the Sabbath, handed to us through Moses.
I was in awe of his dedication, and the fact that even though he lives almost five miles from the Capital, in Washington DC, he walks home on Friday, one of his many observances of Shabbat. It matters not if it is raining, he walks, and walks through heavy rains, snow, winds, whatever the weather condition, he walks.
For Senator Lieberman, the Sabbath is a sensual delight. It fills all of his senses through food and drink, song, family, love, and traditions he and his family practice with deep dedication. His connection to G-d is defined through these moments of observance.
I enjoyed the aspects of Shabbat and the Sabbath that he practices, such as turning off his computer, TV, etc., and the fact that water is heated in a large urn ahead of time, so he can prepare instant coffee on Saturday morning, without actually boiling water on the Sabbath. This and so many other family traditions are a part of Senator Lieberman’s routine, as he and his wife prepare for the Sabbath. It is a part of who he IS.
His peers in Washington DC know he is an observant Jew, and know of his steadfastness in not working on the Sabbath. But, there are times when there is a critical issue or an emergency where Senator Lieberman might have to wrestle with having to discuss urgent business during the Sabbath, and he has thoroughly researched those aspects, within the folds of Halacha/Jewish law, and quotes the Biblical, Talmudic or Rabbinic law that pertains to a given situation. At times it is a combination of the varied laws. Surprisingly to many, they will find that Halacha/Jewish law does provide for unique circumstances when work is permitted.
Each chapter in The Gift of Rest is a work of teaching and insight, filled with how the celebration is fulfilled through prayer, food, tradition and family. Each chapter ends with his thoughts on “Simple Beginnings”, beginnings meant to inspire the reader to ponder Shabbat, the Sabbath, and instruct the reader on how to proceed.
The Gift of Rest: Rediscovering the Beauty of the Sabbath is more than an inspiring book. It is, in itself, a gift to the reader, whether Jewish or otherwise. Senator Lieberman’s prose of insight depict what many of us feel, but cannot articulate. He writes beautifully and masterfully, teaching, instructing, guiding and affecting the reader as they move through the pages. His word-visuals breath life and joy into the Jewish celebration of Shabbat and the Sabbath. His beautiful writings and instructions, along with quotations and bits of humor beckon the reader to ponder how they can incorporate tradition and observance into their own lives within the hectic world we live in.
Many religions incorporate a day of rest within their practice, or a specific time of rest. Whether you are Jewish or not, I highly recommend The Gift of Rest: Rediscovering the Beauty of the Sabbath to everyone. It is a wonderfully inspiring, informative and lovely book. I can not say enough about it. The book is one of the most beautifully written personal testaments to Jewish tradition and observance I have read. It will sit on my nightstand, along with my Siddorim/books of prayer, and with my inspirational books. I know I will refer to it often.
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June 25, 2012 – 5 Tamuz, 5772