Saturday, September 8, 2007
While on a run (itself a miracle) this morning, I got a good excuse to stop for a second or two--I ran into a family I know. We live near a synagogue, so Saturday morning runs involve passing lots of devoted Jews walking to services. This particular family is the parents of a former athlete, a state-champion hurdler who is now a senior at Cornell. (Yes, my 2-miler is at Yale, my long jumper is at Harvard, and my hurdler is at Cornell--it was a really, really smart track team!) Anyway, since I know these guys pretty well, I had a chance to ask a question that has crossed my mind on many of my Saturday runs. Is going for a run "work" that a devout Jew should not do on the sabbath? After all, it IS strenuous, and it's a "workout." But it's also a hobby, and if you're barely jogging like I was this morning, it's relaxing, and a pleasure. Their answer was that the run itself, since it's just a faster form of locomotion, is permissible. But the shower after the run, that's work. Now obviously, as a gentile, this doesn't apply to me (and all my family is happy that I have showered). But it does lead to a couple of theological thoughts. First, the concept of the letter vs. the spirit of the law. I believe that Christ came to fulfill the law, not to abolish it. So the details may no longer be required (ritual sacrifice, legalistic sabbath keeping, etc), but the heart should be the same (sacrificial, whole-hearted love of God). Much ink has been spilled on whether it is easier or harder to keep the Christian version of the covenant, but either way, it's just different. And secondly, the sabbath itself. Now, like most Christians, "my" sabbath is Sunday. But our family does try to observe it seriously. We generally turn down social invitations on Sundays, and we not only attend morning and evening worship services, we almost always have a set period of "down-time" (for me, a nap) in between. I also usually take Sundays as one of my rest days from running. Lots of folks kid me about how much I love my Sunday naps, but it really is my favorite day of the week--the one day that my calendar accurately reflects what I say are my deepest priorities--faith and family. Shalom, ya'll.