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.


bekster said...

It always interests me what things we pick and chose to be important or not. Some things are just tradition, and other things we feel like we have a good reason for being sticklers about, but when it comes right down to it, we still are having to make an interpretation of some kind, which may or may not be correct. Even trying to get down to the basic Spirit of the law can be tricky to pinpoint (although I think we can get pretty close if we really are looking for truth). But, it can be laughable sometimes to know what things different people find to be of utmost importance (sorry, I probably shouldn't laugh about what other people are serious about, but some things are just silly).

And I can testify that there is NO NAP like the SUNDAY NAP. I myself have seen you nappy-headed at Sunday lunch, and I'm not talking about your hair ('cause you don't have any). :)

Lauren-Michaele said...

Wanna do the outer banks half marathon in November? Come know you want to!

Goode Design said...

The "Shabat" will always be the Sabbath (Saturday). Tradition in modern-day Churches has "moved" an observable day of "rest."

I love my day of "rest" [sarcasm intended.] here's what it entails:
• Wake up (i work on this constantly)• Get showered (that's a chore)
• Pick out something to wear (not as much a chore for me as it is my wife)
• Get dressed
• Gather the necessities (bible, pen, paper, etc...)
• Get to the car (simple as this sounds, it's still tough to do in a timely manner)
• Drive to church parking lot (chore)
• Find a parking space
• Get INTO church (the meeting)
• Do the whole church thing (hand shake, avoid X person, say hi to certain folks, sit down, sing, act as if i can ignore the person's funny hat in front of me, yadda, yadda, yadda...)
• Get w/ some folks to go eat
• Pick out a place to go eat
• Go to the restaurant
• Get a seat
• Order
• Correct the order
• Change my mind & reorder
• Eat
• Talk
• Ignore the person's hat again
• Peal yourself away from the late lunch
• Get out of the parking lot
• Drive home
• Get in the house
• Change out of "church clothes"
• Get ready for the nap
• Do the nap
• Wake up groggy

Even Yeshua challenged the Legalistic tendencies to massage in the "spirit of the law." The idea that your shower is "work" and the jog is not seems absurd. Yet as we classify something, we can easily see that legalism loves to make slaves of it's prey.

Instead, what if we asked our motivation: Is my "work" being used to replace something? How many people would rather spend another day at the office (particularly a quiet Sat/Sun) than to spend time with their dysfunctional families? Or with those overly critical church people? Or with those uncomfortable friends? People use their Job as a convenient excuse to avoid relationships that strain our inner selves. Others use the Job as a way to "get ahead" or build a little better financial pad. In doing their job, they find that they have to deal less with people's frictional points. Thus they're handling something they can control.

I think it's more than wise to take at least one full day away from your "Job" and even your "routine" to rejeuvenate.

That's in NO way to say don't do your jog. That is your place to reconnect & recharge. But in no way is your Jog a breaking of the Shabat nor is your shower. PLEASE SHOWER. However, taking your one day (not saying it has to be Saturday) to give to the Most High, it's a smart thing to do.

Giving him 1/10 of the income and 1/7 of the time... seems like a close connection.

I've gotten to where I actually set aside a portion of my month for a "no-meeting" time period... I call it my Super-Six: The last 3 days of the month and the first 3 days of the month.

Goode Design said...

A friend of mine is actually doing some exploratory teaching on the sabbath (Shabat)... You may want to check it out: LiquidChurch.. The series is called Margins... it has been a GREAT series.