Sabbath, the Day of Delight

By Abraham E. Millgram | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIX
THE STRUGGLE FOR THE PRESERVATION OF THE SABBATH

The Sabbath will never disappear from Israel ( Mekilta, Ki Tisa).

"THE Sabbath will never disappear from Israel," the Sages of the Talmud assure us. They add that "all institutions for which Israelites have sacrificed their lives have been firmly and everlastingly established in their midst."1 One such institution is the Sabbath.

That the Jews have sacrificed their lives for the Sabbath is a known historical fact. One need only refer to the Maccabean War of the second century B. C. E. when hundreds of Jews preferred a martyr's death to desecrating the Sabbath even in self-defense.2 Nor was this struggle in defense of the Sabbath limited to Palestine or to any one century. Jewish loyalty and devotion to the Sabbath have been challenged everywhere throughout the centuries. But the most deadly challenge of all has been that of modern times. It has not been so dramatic as that of the ancient or medieval religious persecutions, when the Jew was given a choice between Sabbath observance and death. But it has proved more effective because of the modern social and economic forces which have been acting as slow corrosives, causing a deadly inner degeneration. This has been especially true of the Sabbath in the American Jewish community.

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