THE SABBATH IN MODERN JEWISH LITERATURE
HE author of Ecclesiastes, though he lived about two thousand years ago, complained that "there is no end of making many books." The same complaint is heard today when literally thousands of books are published annually, this despite the fact that whole centuries pass without the birth of a single new idea. New books, however, are valuable in that they dress old ideas in modern garb and apply them to new situations. The Sabbath is one of the old ideas that has profited from such literary renovation. Modern Jewish essays, novels, short stories, and poems have described the Sabbath in modern idiom and have rendered its basic principles relevant to modern life. Despite the widespread desecration of the Sabbath, Jewish writers of today, whether rabbis or laymen, loyalists or assimilationists, speak of the Sabbath with enthusiasm and affection and acclaim it as an institution of central importance in Judaism.
The selections in the following chapter have been chosen from the writings of men well known to Jews throughout the world. The excerpts are from the writings of the eminent religious leaders, Solomon Schechter, K. Kohler, J. H. Hertz, and Mordecai M. Kaplan; the well-known novelists, Israel Zangwill and Sholom Asch; the "father of Yiddish literature," Mendele Moker Sefarim; and the apostles of the Jewish national renaissance, Aḥad Ha-'Am and Ḥayyim Naḥman Bialik.