Sabbath, the Day of Delight

By Abraham E. Millgram | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXI
SABBATH OBSERVANCE IN THE FAR- FLUNG JEWISH COMMUNITIES

It is a sabbath unto the Lord in all your dwelling ( Lev. 23-3).

SABBATH observance in the scattered Jewish communities of the world is not uniform. Many communities have their own distinctive local customs which reflect their peculiar history and environment. In addition, there are Jewish sects with a Sabbath ritual all their own. Among the latter only two have been sufficiently numerous and vigorous to survive. These sects, the Samaritans and the Karaites, have insisted on a literal interpretation of the Bible, so that their Sabbath observance is in many respects different from ours. There are, moreover, several Jewish communities which were completely cut off from intercourse with the main body of the Jewish people. The peculiar customs of the Falashas in Ethiopia, the Bene Israel in India, and the Marranos in Portugal are the result of a self- sacrificing but unenlightened devotion to a tradition. Thus the Marranos, who were forced into baptism and were carefully watched by the Inquisition, necessarily limited their Sabbath observance to a few obscure rituals.

But sects and segregated communities are rare exceptions in Jewish life. The main body of Israel observes the Sabbath in the traditional manner. Though the recognized principles of Sabbath observance have been adjusted to

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