What We Learn from Judaism About "Delighting" in the Sabbath

For more resources on the importance of the Sabbath and how to improve yours, check out Why I Keep the Sabbath Differently Than You & Why That's a Good Thing, 12 Ways to Rethink Your Sunday Routine, or The Whys and Hows of Making the Sabbath Day Holy.

The Lord, through the Prophet Isaiah, said He would honor those who remember and observe the Sabbath day. He also promised them that if they would speak of the Sabbath as a “delight,” they would find joy in the Lord. Further, the Lord promised Israel that He would make them “ride upon the high place of the earth” and that He would “feed [them] with the heritage of Jacob [their] father” (see Isaiah 58:13–14). The rich, symbolic language paints the picture of a conquering king riding across his land and enjoying the fruits of the land.

While attending Hebrew Union College as a graduate student, I learned a lot about the Sabbath day from my Jewish classmates. At one point, I was introduced to the story, “Joseph-who-honours-the-Sabbaths,” in the Babylonian Talmud (Tractate Shabbat, 119A).

Later, my wife, Jeni, found a children’s book, “Joseph Who Loved the Sabbath,” based on the story found in the Talmud (see Marilyn Hirsh, “Joseph Who Loved the Sabbath” [New York: Viking Penguin, 1986]).

In this modern retelling of the old story, we meet a poor Jewish laborer named Joseph.

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