August 30, 2019 // 29 Av 5779

Dear Haverim,

This Labor Day weekend, I'd like to advocate reframing the concept of Shabbat as a form of "spiritual labor legislation." If you're interested in exploring the idea further, I highly recommend adding this profound 2003 NY Times piece by journalist Judith Shulevitz to your weekend reading list.

Here's an excerpt:

The Israelite Sabbath institutionalized an astonishing, hitherto undreamed-of notion: that every single creature has the right to rest, not just the rich and the privileged ... The Jews were meant to perceive the Sabbath not only as a way to honor God but also as the central vehicle of their liberation theology, a weekly reminder of their escape from their servitude in Egypt.

In other words, we have the Sabbath to thank for labor legislation and for our belief that it is wrong for employers to drive their employees until they drop from exhaustion. 

With blessings for a liberating Shabbat and a renewing holiday weekend,

Rabbi Brant Rosen