Sacrifices for Shabbat?

It’s not a makhloket, really–it’s a davar akher. 🙂

Ah, the imprecision and semantic degradation that is English! Where I meant sacrifice as “trade-off” alone (which I thought was pretty clear in context), Rabbi Adar brought the other, “avodah” meaning–service in the Temple through sacrificing animals, oil, wine, and produce–in.

Now you can see the little semantic shifts we all use to write midrash and sermons! (I’d argue that there are several semantic shifts in Rabbi Adar’s post: she moves from “avodah” to trade-off and back as the discussion went from my comment to the Heschel idea and back again, no? Lawyers with philosophic and rabbinic training are the most annoying lawyers of all! 🙂 )

Rabbi Adar and I both know that lots of Jews regard the halakhic restrictions of Shabbat–or the traditional conduct they engage in without participation in the full halakhic regime (not that it can be done perfectly anyway)–as a set of trade-offs. Some Jews do not see any trade-off (sacrifice?) because they believe themselves commanded to take these actions. Even then, some of these decisions are reluctantly made and produce stress. Hopefully those making the trade–and Shabbat observance in all its forms is in most situations an exercise in opportunity cost–see greater benefit in observance than in non-observance. (Otherwise, why make that trade absent external compulsion?)

Then again, the “avodah” meaning isn’t in itself wrong at its core for many–it’s just that rabbinic interpretation has fritted away at what “avodah” can be permitted mean in certain contexts. Of course, on a more realpolitik view of it…

Coffee Shop Rabbi

I was delighted to see that sjewindy at A Humanistic Jew in Indianapolis left a pingback this morning to my post, Why Can’t Jews Get Married on Shabbat? entitled Jewish? Want a Saturday Wedding? Find a Humanistic Jew. He’s right about that; a humanistic Jew is one of the alternatives if you want a Saturday wedding.

However, I have an issue with something in his summary of my post, and I think it merits a post of its own. He wrote, “traditionally this [foregoing weddings on Shabbat] is a sacrifice Jews have made.” [emphasis mine]

Jews went out of the sacrifice business in 70 CE, when the Romans pulled down Herod’s Temple and burnt the broken fragments. As a Reform Jew, I am not praying for or looking forward to a restoration of that edifice, although there are folks in other movements of Judaism who are. (There’s another post for another day.)

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